In 1849 Esther Howland created the first American
valentines. There are about 220,000 marriage
proposals and about 114 million Hallmark cards
exchanged every February 14th. The money racking
holiday consumes over $18.2 billion dollars a year,
costing, on average, $136.57 per person.
700,000 Americans are reported to be living with a brain
tumor. Of those seven hundred thousand, 138,054 tumors
will spread throughout its host’s body,
starting from the brain,
sneaking into various organs,
taking over as if
they’re the landlord kicking out a submissive tenant. In 2017,
26,070 people received a malignant brain tumor diagnosis
that only 34.7% of those will quote on quote
On average, every six minutes a person dies from
a blood clot. There are two types of blood clots: deep
vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. The symptoms
of the two include swelling in a leg or arm,
pain, skin discoloration of reds and blues,
shortness of breath,
rapid heart rate,
and an unexplained cough.
Cirrhosis is caused by a handful of things:
extended alcohol use,
chronic hepatitis B, C, and D,
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,
and diseases that damage or destroy ducts.
As one’s liver starts to slowly decay as the scar tissue dominates the healthy
live tissue. Symptoms like weight loss,
become more apparent as the blood flow through the liver
fades away like an ice cube evaporating in a summer’s sun.
The liver performs over 500 different chemical functions affecting almost
physiological process in the body. This disease is the
7th leading cause of death among adults in the United States between
24 and 64.
My mom introduced me to her boyfriend Jim
when I was in the 10th grade.
Jim was never shy, always honest,
and a friend to every person he met.
He’d never turn down a good time and
a glass of dry chardonnay. He taught me how
to keep my head down when I swing a golf club,
how to never ask someone if they’d like another drink,
and how to deep sea fish while drinking beer.
He taught me to look someone straight in the eye
as an equal
and as a human being.
No matter their bank statement or outfit.
Falling at the top of the statistical average, he was 63.
My mom’s younger brother was injecting his
blood-thinner medicine into his stomach because
the insurance wouldn’t pay for an oral pill.
He stopped taking his medicine because he was tired of
cleaning the small blood stains on his shirt
from the injection sites across his stomach.
It was 2:36 am
when my aunt found him lying face down in the
hallway of their flat-roofed Sarasota home.
15 days before Jim.
June 2017, my neighbor, though more like an uncle, tried to
use his credit card to open his Ford F-150
in the Home Depot parking lot. The oxygenated
blood in his brain dwindled as did the strength in his legs.
His daughter called 9-1-1
begging for an ambulance to arrive. Mr. Joe spent the
last six months of his life fighting to regain his speech with
a question mark scar on the right side of his head.
My grandpa had been battling depression since my
grandma died in 2004 but made sure to always send our
family cards because that’s what she would have wanted.
February 10, 2009 he sent me a Valentine’s Day Hallmark card.
For some reason, my cheerleading competition warranted
me to be “too busy” to call
one last time.
I received a five dollar bill
and a signed Hallmark card that said,
‘Love You – Pa Miller.’
That year, he gave his wife the best valentine’s gift
that doesn’t have a price tag.