Today marks my fifth year anniversary since having heart surgery. Much can happen in five years. In honor of those beautiful years of life, I have decided to share a story I wrote late last year. The literary techniques that I used are those of flashback and fragmentation. When I think back to five years ago, to that event that change my life drastically, there were many holes in my memory. To this day, I am still putting pieces together. In my life I have learned that what happens to me, as painful as they may be, are a true testament of my faith and that a greater/ higher hand has been over my life.
The story begins with my conception and diagnostic. It moves forward to the event of the heart surgery itself, then flashbacks to an event leading up to the surgery, and returns to the main event once again. My reason for doing so, again, was to invite the reader into my mind, and how I still struggle in putting pieces together.
Mater Dolorosa (Lady of Sorrows)
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
She was unexpected and foremost, unplanned. There were no angels that day to inform her mother, Maria, of her conception, and no one visited. Months into conception, Maria would be notified of her daughter’s destiny. Before the birth of her daughter, she was diagnosed with the same condition that had taken lives before her. With these news, an epiphany of love grew between mother and fetus. The same fighting spirit from her mother was fed through her bloodline. Little did her mother know that one day a sword would pierce her heart.
It was a crisp Wednesday morning in Portland, Oregon. The sun had risen and made an appearance. Spring was in the air, blue skies began to reveal themselves and trees came back to life from their slumber. As life sprung all around, I couldn’t help but feel that nature paraded me to my death.
27th of May, a date to remember. All else appeared like a normal day. That morning, I awoke earlier than usual, performed the rituals instructed by cardiologists and nurses weeks prior. My body was cleansed with a special soap provided, and as if a prepared sacrifice, I was ready for my destiny.
St. Mary’s Academy: Today’s young women, tomorrow’s leaders. An all girl’s high school dedicated to educating young women in the liberal arts and preparing them for bright futures.
My junior year of high school began and I was ready to embark on the most difficult academic year of high school. I knew at the beginning that this year would be challenging, but little did I know that school would not be my only challenge that year.
“Good morning, Ms. Janette,” greeted the school librarian.
“Good morning, Mrs. Daniels.”
“Did you have a good summer.”
“I did, but it was starting to get boring. I think I almost started to miss school.” I shared.
This year I would take:
Social Justice through CMS
I had a full load, and was excited to see what I could learn from each class. (Except maybe American Government. I never really liked politics.) Junior year also meant it was my turn to bear the weight of Norton’s Anthology of English Literature and conquer the required ten page English Research Paper. Despite these academic challenges, I knew that French would be my favorite class. I had learned how to introduce myself in French the year before and was excited to be able to carry a conversation at the end of the year.
Mom and sisters were going out for a bit, and I decided to stay home to finish up some homework. I had been struggling in school. My strength weakened each day, and sleep was never enough. My appetite slowly diminished and I did not understand what was happening to me. My mind was ready to move forward, but my body did not cooperate. I continued through my days as usual, and thought I was falling victim to the flu, but I should have known better with this heart condition.
That night, I felt really warm, and my stomach was bothering me. I contacted mom, “Are you guys almost home. I don’t feel good.” She never replied.
It was still early, and my homework was incomplete. But I couldn’t continue. So I decided to call it a night.
The girls returned home a few hours later and went to bed. Everyone was asleep, the night was crisp and calm; not a gust of wind blew to make a sound. Suddenly, I awoke and ran to my trash can. My older sister awoke to the sound of me vomiting, “Janette… are you okay?” she asked with concern in her voice. As soon as I managed to compose myself, I ran to the bathroom. With no energy to do anything, my sister turned on the light, and helped me stand. I washed my hands, and before I knew, I was going down. My memory from then like a black hole, dark and empty.
“Laura! Help me get her! We’re taking her to the emergency!” my mother instructed.
The surgery was the best alternative to help treat her condition. Her body was suffering the consequences of her weakening heart. She was going into heart failure at age sixteen. The year that she looked forward to completing was left unfinished. Conversations left unspoken and tomorrows left unexplored.
“She most likely won’t make it,” doctor’s informed her mother.
Maria knew. She was left with a pierced heart and the hope that she had prepared her daughter with a fighting spirit.