by Sharon Stevens

A mother and her young son came into our bookstore to price college textbooks. After they found what they were looking for we took a moment to discuss the high price of books, the terribly hot weather, the rising cost of fuel, groceries, school clothes, work clothes, play clothes, cost of living and just life in general. As they were leaving I invited them to rummage through the basket up front that I keep filled with trinkets of stickers, bubbles, necklaces, bracelets, bouncing balls, slinkys and other such odds and ends that find their way into my stash.

The mother declined but encouraged her son to go through and pick something out to take home. After stirring everything up with his fingers he reached in and chose a golden heart bracelet and shared it with his mom. But he didn’t just pass it on to her, he placed it against her chest and told her he chose it special for her because it reminded him of her heart. The look she shared with her son for this wonderful gift I will carry in MY heart forever. What a precious thought from a young man to his mom.

The dictionary definition of heart describes it as a “chambered muscular organ in vertebrates that pumps blood”. I understand that. You have to have a heart to survive. But I also recognize that heart transcends all definitions and connections. Thomas C. Foster mentions in his book “How to Read Literature Like A Professor” that a heart can have so many different meanings. His book reminds me to never look at a heart simply the same way again.

And if I had my druthers I would choose for my definition the verb tense that describes a heart as one that encourages. Even though it is not in general use it fits me to a capital H.

I watched the mother and son leave our store after just heartbeats in time. I wonder how many pulses were exchanged between the three of us not only in that lifespan, but how many hours that moment will sustain us for the future. Who knows.

It wasn’t until after they left that I realized the young man had placed the bracelet heart against the RIGHT side of his mother’s chest instead of the left.

No matter, his mother and I both knew which side her heart was on.

– Sharon Stevens

Click on the author page above to connect with Sharon.

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