HOLE IN THE HEART

I remember the first time I passed out. It was right after I had my first baby, and my mom was there. No one knew why I passed out. We didn’t ever go to doctors, you know? It’s like a nine hour bus ride, and then they want cash. Nobody from our village went to the doctor. So I never knew why I sometimes got faint, or why I started to pass out. My husband said it was just hysterics.

My husband was mean, may he rest in peace. I don’t know why. It’s like he had a hole in his heart, and all his love leaked out. No matter how nice I was, no matter how patient and loving, he just got worse. Even his own Dad asked him, why do you treat her so badly? I never treated your Mom like that! There must be a devil in your heart. My husband, he used to tell me that I was not lovable.

Luckily, I have God. So even when I sat and cried, feeling faint and sick, with my baby on my knee, rocking her in our hammock with my feet on the dirt floor, God was with me. Even when my husband was yelling nasty words at me and then leaving for days at a time, I was not alone. Even when he told me over and over that no one could love me, that I was worthless, I was able to be calm. That is the power and the comfort of God.

You see, I heard my husband’s words, and they hurt, but they didn’t get inside of me. Okay, I thought, he cannot love me. I bow to my fate. I accept it. But God loves me. So how can I be unlovable? God stays close to me, and strengthens me. God shows me that I am lovable. Yes, of course it is sad that my husband could not love me. But it is not everything. There are much worse things. Imagine if God did not love me. That would be disaster. That would be damnation!

Last summer, I fell to the ground, but instead of just waking up like usual, I was paralyzed on my left side. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to walk or talk again, but God is great. I was mostly healed by the time I got an appointment at the clinic, a few months later. The whole family pitched in to pay for it, and my mother traveled with me. But it was very bad news. The doctors told us, expect the worst. You have had a brain infarction, and we don’t know why. But we think it is going to happen again, and there is nothing we can do about it.

My mom was devastated – like her soul was torn into pieces. But the first thing I thought when the doctors said they cannot do anything to help me, was, wait a minute. This sounds familiar! Remember? When my husband said he couldn’t love me, God still could. And now these doctors say they can’t help me, but God still can. You see, everything is possible with God. And God healed me. And then I came here to work so I could keep my daughter in school back home. Except I passed out at work, and they sent me here. This is the second time I have seen a doctor in my life.

This doctor, sorry to cry, but I am so grateful. This doctor is unbelievably kind. He said, you just have a tiny hole in your heart. That is why you got a blood clot. That blood clot went to your brain. That is why you had a stroke. But we can fix your heart, so it won’t happen again. It is an easy fix. It is not even a major surgery, he told me. Just a little procedure that will take me maybe fifteen minutes. You won’t even need a stitch, he told me. You have a river of blood that we can use to travel up from your groin to your heart with a tiny camera and tiny tools and fix it, he told me.

So weird. I told him, we all knew my husband had a hole in his heart, because he was not loving – his heart was empty and cold, but why do I have a hole in my heart? Does it mean I am bad? No, he told me. Everyone is born with a hole in their heart, but almost everyone grows a seal over it. You did not seal your heart, but we can seal it for you, very easily. Then you will be strong, and able to work again. Good, I told him, because I have worked since I was five years old and I really wouldn’t know what else to do. The doctor was surprised. It turns out he didn’t work as a child.

I didn’t start working until I was almost your age, almost thirty, he told me. I spent all those years studying and training, and a lot of people helped me. I am really impressed with all the work you have already done. Let’s get your heart strong and healthy. It really is an easy fix. I wish every heart were as easy to repair as yours will be, the doctor told me, smiling. Don’t worry. We can expect a good outcome. And he was right! Here I am.

Such kindness. Such love pouring out upon me. My healed heart. Such a miracle. The doctor thinks I have had a hard life, I can see the pity in his eyes, but I feel truly blessed. Think about it. Just because I passed out at work, all these people helped me. What generous people. And God willing, I will be able to work and support my daughter so she can study, so she can fly from the nest with stronger wings than I had. She is just at that age where they get their feathers, so the timing is perfect. All is done in God’s good time. Even a heart like mine can be healed.