Chicks dig scars. Well, the chicks I roll with dig scars, anyway. When a person has scars you know that things have happened in his or her life, but usually not what happened. With Victor it was different.
Victor has a gnarly scar running down the center of his chest. You can’t miss it. I can’t remember asking about or him explaining the scar’s origin the first time I saw it, but a scar like that pretty much speaks for itself.
Victor and I grew up an hour apart in rural Pennsylvania but didn’t meet until we were both in our twenties and living in Boston. I didn’t know him when he had an aortic valvulotomy at age five and, somewhat fortunately, we missed each other’s awkward teen years, including his Ross procedure.*
Aortic stenosis was a measure of our relationship; the closer we got, the more I learned about it. First, I just knew the basics: Victor was born with a congenital heart defect and had heart surgery. Over time he opened up more about what that meant for him physically and emotionally. Then I found myself sitting in a cardiologist’s waiting room—the youngest person there by a good 40 years—waiting anxiously to find out why the doctor had called Victor back so quickly after a round of tests. We had crossed the point of no return.
Victor and I got married on a beach in September of 2011. It was a small ceremony and in lieu of a first dance we shot zombies at a nearby arcade.
Getting married has given me access to numerous pairs of comfy sweatpants, an Xbox and an ever-expanding guitar collection. It also means I spend a lot of time thinking about someone else’s heart.
*Full disclosure: I’m not great with science. If you see correct medical terminology here it’s because I’m reading it off Victor’s medical records. My explanation of his surgeries goes something like, “They poked around in there when he was five and when he was twelve he got a valve transplant.”
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