Some of the hearts we have received focus on one particular individual, often as a memorial or tribute to them, because they are special to the person who has made the heart. How the person is portrayed in these hearts is diverse but very touching- I wonder how many of them know they are the subject of a Heartfelt Moment?!
"This is for Anthony, with whom I fell silently and hopelessly in love at the age of eight, but who only had eyes for Veronica, a fat, waddling girl with dark hair who brought Licquorice Allsorts to school to hide in his desk."
"Pop was my paternal grandfather. He was a Welsh miner with a wicked sense of fun, who grew wonderful dahlias in his garden and vegetables on his allotment. My parents, my brother and I lived with my grandparents, and when my father died when I was five Pop said ‘they’re my children now,’ and he cared for us as if we were. However his years down the mines ruined his health and at 67, when I was 10, he was hospitalised with pneumoconiosis which induced tuberculosis. As a result my brother and I were not allowed to visit him. He died without us ever seeing him again."
"How my heart felt when my sister sent her heart felt on my seventy fifth birthday. If I searched the world, I could never find a better sister. You are a perfect example of sisterly loving and caring and compassion and concern. Just talking to you can make me feel better, and being with you reminds me of the most important things in my life. Knowing that I have a sister like you is a gift of family and friendship wrapped up in love!"
Not all of the hearts we receive make enjoyable reading- some of the stories told are tragic accounts of bereavement and the struggle to carry on after the loss of someone close. However, the whole point of the project was to allow people to share their most personal stories, however difficult, so rather than despair at the amount of pain and suffering individuals have to cope with, it is comforting to think that, for the authors, just writing down the story to share with others might have been a process of cathartic healing.
I look with bewilderment into the face of my first child. Those beautiful wide open brown eyes, the shape of his eyebrows and the pink rosebud of his lips. I lay the tip of my little finger on his delicate little hand and indulgently hold and love his little feet. My heart swells with pride and love.
I look with bewilderment into the face of my first child. Those lovely eyes framed with the familiar eyebrows, are closed. Below the right eye is a faded scar- memories of a childhood accident. The lips are struggling for breath. I kneel at the foot of the bed and massage body lotion into the tired and stressed feet, in a vain attempt to calm Mike and myself. Moving to look once more into this beautiful face of my son, I hold his hand as the final breath leaves his body. My heart is broken.”
"On the 10th of August 1966 my mother died of breast cancer. No one hugged me. No one talked to me. No one said ‘It’s not your fault,’ no one said ‘She loved you.’
They put her in the cold earth. My mother. I was 10 years and 8 months old. She never talked to me when she was ill. I felt stupid and traumatised. I spent 43 years trying to heal. Forgiveness brings healing. How do I forgive when the desolation and torture is still inside me? I believe in love and joy. One day I will be free.”
Some of the most striking stories from the hearts we have received are concerned with illness and trauma- coming to terms with the shocking news that you or someone you love has a life-changing disease or condition. Many of the stories have a surprisingly positive tone, where the individual has found their own personal way to cope with their private tragedy.
"The white heart represents the day my heart seemed to stop, on being told that I had inoperable terminal cancer. The red heart represents the joy of being able to lead a ‘normal’ life thanks to the amazing skill of the medical staff, the loving care of my family and the encouraging support of my friends."
ASCO- the African Street Children Organisation- is a charity working in Uganda to take street children out of the dangerous world they live in, and to give them safety, shelter, food, warmth, education and love: all the things children need and want.
Thanks to Jennifer Mitchell (read about her adventures in Uganda here), 22 boys of various ages took part in the Heartfelt project, drawing detailed pictures of their memorable moments or favourite things. Due to the fact that they couldn’t write in English, they didn’t attach a description- just a signature and a photograph. The results are beautiful.