The heart is a muscle

And you damn well better use it. Even if—sometimes especially if—it hurts. Love is the heavy lifting when it comes to this little pump. Love, love and more love.

Heartbreak? It’s real but, in the same way a tree requires wind in order to put down deep roots, a heart can do with a good gale now and again. Yes, really. Loving and losing is our greatest fear. But that is also what makes love so very precious.

The hardest part of living with a disease like lung cancer is the loss. If you make the decision to establish connections with people who are facing the sort of survival stats we have, well, you need to understand from the get-go that death is going to be a frequent part of the equation.

It sucks, and sometimes it overwhelms as well.

I asked my oncologist, Dr. Alice Shaw, how she dealt with losing patients. Her response was that she viewed her role as a thoracic oncologist as a privilege. That caring for someone (in all senses of the word) as they faced extraordinary circumstances was an honor.

Her response struck me, because it is exactly the way I feel. Privileged to love so very many. Honored to share this fucking journey. And in awe of the fact that my heart–although at times so very heavy–has only grown stronger.

Life is hard, and avoiding that reality is not going to make anything easier. Nor is letting your heart go all flabby, just because you’re afraid of giving it a workout. Use it or lose it y’all. Live. Love. Heart, eyes and mind wide open.


18 responses to “The heart is a muscle

  1. Thanks Linnea. Your words meant so much to me particularly this week.

  2. <3, <3, ❤

  3. Linnea,
    We love you so much. Your heart has made my heart stronger.

  4. Linnea,
    It always amazes and impresses me the insight you have about things when you yourself are LIVING with a terminal illness. and I say LIVNG because that is what you do each and every single day. You take your experience with what you are going through and grow emotionally and intellectually.
    I don’t have cancer but my husband did and the people who we grew close with were other cancer patients and caregivers. We felt like we were a family.
    You are AMAZING and make me aware even more than ever how important each day is.

    Thank you for your poetic writings. I look forward to them and am always hoping that Dr. Shaw can pull another trick out of the hat so to speak.

    • Thank you Lisa. I think I’ll start referring to it (Dr Shaw’s magic) as a hat trick. And we are a family. ❤

      xo Linnea

  5. You are certainly using your HEART muscle Linnea
    Keep it pumping – In all respects. Xxxx

  6. Dear Linnea,
    From my heart to yours — thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. You lift me up every time and turn my direction onto a better path. Keep on loving with that beautiful heart of yours.
    Kate xoxo

  7. Truth, indeed. Sending you much love.

  8. As always Linnea! So articulate and your analogies are dead nuts on, with regard to “heavy lifting”. I just passed the one year anniversary of my husband Peter’s death; reliving all that lead up to his last day; our last trip to Boston, Peter’s last visit with Dr. Shaw (such an amazing human being!), knowing we wouldn’t be back. So coupled with all the bad news, were all the goodbyes to people that we really came to love. It was a hard drive home. We stopped in Lenox at our favorite little Indian restaurant, Mint, next to a frozen lake. Peter insisted on taking a selfie of us. He is smiling and calm in the picture. I look like hell. . . . A week later it was over.
    You’re right! My heart got a kick-ass workout. A five year marathon, in fact. But, once the anniversary came & went, it feels like the race is over, and I can breath again! I get what Dr. Shaw said; it truly was an honor caring for Peter. I can’t imagine doing anything else more worthy. Yes! Live & Love!!

    • Jon, what a sad but beautiful day (Dr. Shaw, Mint, the brave selfie). It is a privilege to care–again, in all senses of the word. And you are a beautiful human being.

      xo Linnea

  9. It is hard but clearly worth it!!❤️👈🏼

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