Be Still My Heart

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Estee on 14-02-2009

Be still my heart. It is Valentine’s Day, or as I say to my son Adam, who is for the first time ever, traveling without me with my soon-to-be ex-husband, “Happy Heart Day.” But can the heart always be “happy?”

I say it to him because he is young. He understands what happy is, and enjoys the “happy face.” He loves toys with faces and makes faces on his plate with his food. It is his fascination – the face, that is. Simon Baron Cohen ought to check out my son’s sheer love of the face.

I refer to Adam often as my heart. We parents refer to having babies as our “hearts walking about the earth.” This cannot be more true. It is the greatest gift and the greatest pain. I believe all great gifts have this enormous duplicitous truth.

Be still my heart as Adam looks out in this picture his dad sent me as he peers our at the ocean in mommy’s old reading spot. I am happy that he’s happy, and of course sad I am not there. Being alone without my son for the first time is something to get used to.

Heart Day is bittersweet. We can be struck by cupid’s arrow that symbol for being caught by elated love, but it’s inevitably going to bleed. We can have expansive hearts for our children, and broken hearts from our lovers or friends who leave us or break a sacred trust. That which we deem sacred is at the highest risk, perhaps because we put it way too high up on a wobbly pedestal.

The heart is a marvelous thing. It is that one organ that keeps us moving that pump pump thumps with the vibrancy of life, and yet, we feel it. It can fly, it can suffer extreme pain. There is a lot of soul that pumps within that engine. We feel our hearts, quite literally, in every aspect of our emotional lives. If we sit back and just feel in the moment, that physical feeling that is emotion comes from two very important places – the stomach and the heart.

“I cant’ stomach it,” is a phase for something we cannot emotionally handle or that which we find disgusting. When people are upset, they often cannot eat as the stomach clenches with pain or worry.

But today we celebrate love with the heart. Love which is our lifeblood, our reason for being. We are programmed to love. I am most fortunate to have a son who I love unconditionally. I feel I have experienced life’s greatest blessing to know such love.

My heart is out there by the ocean, but I take solace in knowing that he’s happy. I could cry at the commercialized hearts in store windows and mourn the loss of coupledom as I go out and about today on my own. I could focus on only those lovers holding hands today and ignore the other people, just like me, who want to just get through another day of plastic and glittery commercialized happiness.

Naaah. It doesn’t work like that. Of course, going out today may be treacherous, but my heart is Adam and I will cherish that. My heart wants to be open, no matter what happens. Gentle am I, and I will be, with myself; a lovely, openhearted person who will celebrate myself and be open for what may or may not come.

At my age, it’s quite a revelation to love oneself, especially after the heart has been hurt. So imperfect am I, that I will celebrate my idiosyncrasies and the fact that I have given so much and will give that space and love to myself. Celebrate, I will, the dream I have fulfilled in having a wonderful and affable child who will grow up, I know, to be a generous man with his own heart. Understand, I will reflect, that the heart only grows bigger with scar tissue. Happy I will be, with the flow of this life I live and accept a new relationship with Adam’s father. Content, I am, in all of life’s ordinary moments.

Today I will take simple pleasures by recognizing life’s important blessings and lessons. And if for one moment, I feel sorry for myself because some silly Hallmark symbol I see out there delivers me the message that I’m not “complete” without another, well, at that point I can guffaw, maybe giggle with tears, and just remember how complete and lucky I already am.


Postscript: After writing this post, Adam sent me a “Happy Heart.”


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.