A few years ago, I fainted in an airport (I think I’ve told you all that story). I was afraid and in Cincinnati and away from my parents and a fresh almost 18, thinking I could be on my own. The first moment of panicked “what’s wrong with me?” when I came to on the cool airport tiled floor was enough to convince me that I never wanted to feel so helpless again. I wanted to be able to sit up, drink water, get back on the plane and go home, without the soothing voices of the medics or the reassuring hand in the ambulance or any of the rest of it.
But of course a few short years later, and I regain consciousness on the floor in the sacristy, the room where we gathered before the service, and I realize that once again, I’m panicking. I don’t feel like I can breathe because I don’t remember what happened, and the suddenness of losing control makes me feel like I am made of paper and might fold up, an origami crane, and fall down. I am surrounded by people and they offer orange juice, some says bring her a muffin or something to eat. They tell me to breathe, to inhale and exhale and follow a flashlight with my eyes and I’m scared, and my paper crane self wants to crumple at the sight of these people, care cradled in their hands, offering me the chance to need, to be taken care of.
I am in the hospital bed in hallway 43, they take blood to run tests, they run an ECG/EKG (apparently the k is from the Greek kardia, meaning, heart, but that’s a google search on a Monday night). I wonder, disconnected from the world, where home is. I think of my fiancé and the miles that still stretch between us and how there is a part of my heart that is never quite whole without him. I wonder about that picture of my heart’s electricity.
I wonder if it tells the story of how I’ve been trying to do this self-sufficient, emotions-in-their-alphabetical-non-offending-box thing for a while. I wonder if it shows how much of my heartbeat is caught up worrying that I’m not quite there yet, not spiritually or emotionally there, so much still in process like the scared crying almost 18 year old I was back in the Cincinnati airport. I’ve so wanted to be brave and strong and able to bear cheerfully what I’ve been given and not complain and not need…
But then I think, would it be so wrong, to have my heartbeat whisper that I need taking care of, too? Would it be so wrong to lie in this hallway, waiting for blood test results and a saline drip to run its course, eating chicken salad out of a plastic carton while my brother, wise and steady man, makes me laugh quietly at the edge of the bed?
Would it be so wrong to want to be taken care of, to want my fiancé’s hand on my forehead and the marching orders to get back in bed, the call to check in and make sure that heart is okay? Would it be wrong to admit how much I need that?
I faint in church on a Sunday morning, and they take a picture of my heart.
For the first time, I hope it says how much I need.