One of the first things he ever told me was that he had a pig heart. I imagined a football inside his chest. Pig skin. Later, his parents told me the parts were artificial. They shared photos from his first surgery. You’ve never seen such a small child in a hospital bed.
The scar cut a ragged grin around his shoulder blade. I used to touch it while he slept and imagine a zipper to his animal heart. I worried because he joked so much. Because they’d widened the zipper with subsequent surgeries. Because of the small boy in the hospital bed. But we couldn’t have children. Everybody said so. And we didn’t. Not for years.
Yesterday I watched our child entertain his way through a physical. I heard the news that the nurses would schedule an echocardiogram. Rule things out. Healthy. Robust. No worries. No worries. I heard but now I keep seeing a zipper. He has too many animal hearts to keep in such a small chest.
It’s absurd to worry. I do see that. I do. So, instead, I’ll make it a story, and tell it to you. He’s more of a wombat, really. A honey badger. A jungle cat. His favorite thing to tell us now is, “Shhhhh.” See how well I listen?