The beauty of this project is that people have the freedom to make their hearts in any shape, style or size they choose. And for some people at least, this has unleashed a creative talent some of us could only dream of!
"My best friend had a heart of gold, but it was a very weak heart.
The home of her spirit had become an internal physical prison.
After a long battle, her physical heart finally broke, and although
At that moment I felt the pain of my own heart break,
I also felt relief knowing her spirit was free at last.
As I left the hospital car park, I knew she was leaving too.
Looking over the rooftop, across a bright blue sky, my heart ached farewell.”
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."
One of the major themes of the hearts we have received so far has been childbirth, with many of the hearts focussing on the overwhelming love and joy at seeing their child for the first time.
The Jessie May Trust
"This heart symbolises the life-changing breath-holding pulse-racing heart-pumping first breath moment of my granddaughter Pella. There are 3 hearts here; mine, my daughter Millie’s and Pella’s- a bit like russian dolls. Late in labour, exhausted, I lay beside Millie reassuring her with one of our prepared affirmations…’you’re very safe…trust your body…you know what to do…return to the breath.’ And so it was that Millie breathed her baby out like a yogic ‘master’ without drugs or medical intervention. There were 3 other hearts in the room- Sam (Pella’s dad) and Sally and Jo- two midwives. Pella was born naturally in water at home in candle-light to soft ambient music. She swam through the water to greet her parents looking for one moment as old and as wise as the universe. Something happened- she didn’t breathe. Sally gestured for Millie to leave the pool and in one quick fluid movement lay Pella gently on the resuscitation mat with her cord still attached. Inhaled deeply and held my breath. Five adults intimately attuned to one baby…all holding our breath. Sally blew softly into Pella’s face and said ‘Can everyone please start breathing again.’ We all breathed out and then breathed in and this time Pella joined us.”