• Mathura Hawley

hearts 1

Updated: Aug 2, 2021


She took me into her office, did an EKG, put it down on her desk, and called 911. "

It is 3:00 am on Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, I am in the beeping, low light of my cold, new room, and my heart belongs to the cardiac care unit nurses of NYU Hospital. I’ve been X-ray’d, sonogramed, stripped, probed and examined for almost twenty hours. I’ve had good news and I’ve had bad news, too much then not enough information to know if I am going to be anyone’s Valentine next year. I either will, or I won’t, depending on which doctor you ask. My advice: listen to the late shift doctor with the brown eyes and kind tone - she will make you feel more hopeful. When I woke up Monday morning, after five days of fighting to draw the perfect breath, I packed a bag of clothes, my prayer beads, my Radhanath Swami book and two granola bars, and went to see my doctor in Chelsea. I walked four long city blocks out of the subway into the 40 mph cold winds with my yellow Krishna scarf over my mouth to keep me warm and safe. She took me into her office, did an EKG, put it down on her desk, and called 911. I remember the medic that sat in the ambulance with me was named Tom, he grew up in Park Slope but now lives in Astoria, and sold his car because he got tired of moving it four times a week. I was wheeled into the best corner of the busiest ER I’ve ever seen outside of a catastrophe movie, my nurse became Eileen, and she made me feel like the most important frightened-guy-gasping-for-air-and-explanation in the world. I am not sure I have ever felt so alone. “Do you have a partner or caretaker?” she asked and I started to cry. Her tough New York eyes went soft and she reached down and grabbed my hand. “Tell me what your tattoo says,” she asked, touching the ink on my left arm. “It’s Sanskrit for Mathura,” I said through my tears. “Well, let me tell me you about my time in India,” she said and smiled. She had traveled with Doctors Without Borders and began to describe her experiences treating the poor people of Mumbai. “I saw the most beautiful statue of Krishna in Mayapur, ” she said. “You know Krishna?” I asked, still holding her hand. “Oh honey, all the gods should be that pretty!” she laughed, and leaned closer. “You’re gonna be ok,” she whispered, looking directly into my eyes. “I just realized that,” I said, and let go of her so she could work the rest of the crowd.


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