How Strong Is Your Heart?

Years ago, I felt honored to deliver the eulogy at my Grandmother’s funeral. I talked about how the average person’s heart beats 30,000 times a day.  This meant that during her 87 years, it had beat right around a billion times.

I recounted how her heart must have beat differently at different milestones in her life. Racing to her first picture show as a little girl, going gaga over Bing Crosby, straining while working odd jobs during the great depression, or nearly coming to a stop when she learned her first husband was killed in the war. How it began to beat again when she fell in love with my Grandpa and welled with pride as she watched her children grow.

Recently, I realized that while this device may have been useful in bringing to life her individual moments and experiences, it did little service to understanding the cumulative impact of a billion beats on the muscle that makes our life possible.

Naturally, some of us are born with stronger hearts than others. Leaving some to suffer defects that need surgery or live with hearts genetically more prone to wear and tear.

When it comes to nurturing our hearts, some will have more opportunities to exercise and eat better than others.  Similarly others will experience more stress and strain causing both figurative and literal heartache.

The heart is the engine of both our vitality and mortality. As it goes, so do we.

Despite it’s value to us, it is still so easy to take for granted.  We assume that while we may age on the outside, our heart must stay young on the inside.

Until we are met with the reality that it doesn’t.

For a few, this reality could be a positive. We learn that our heart is in great shape and that while we may be losing our hair, our heart hasn’t lost a step.

For most though, this reality strikes like a dagger.  We learn that the hundreds of millions of beats have taken their toll on our own heart or on those of our loved ones.

Unable to turn back the clock, we lament the missed opportunities to strengthen someone’s heart through acts of love and kindness or lighten their strain through our sacrifice.

It is a reminder to take care of our own heart and the hearts of those all around us –  one beat at a time.

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