A Heartfelt Month

Happy Valentine's Day from Harboring Hearts! February is National Heart Month, and perhaps that was perfectly (or coincidentally) timed during a month that can bring a tangible form and discussion to so many of the invisible aspects of the heart: from heart-health awareness, to advocacy for cardiac-disease prevention, and to expressions of love and emotion that are driven by our hearts.

What is so amazing about Heart Month is its emphasis on something we must all nurture and protect: our hearts. We all share the vital need for a healthy heart, so we can each continue on our journeys and achieve our dreams -- whatever they may be, and however different they might appear.

Vitality is of course fortified by the way we eat, exercise, process stress, and live our everyday lives with proactive awareness of our health needs. However, it is also very true that it is fuelled by the support system, love, and comfort we receive from, and extend, to others -- and how that changes and strengthens our hearts. It is often the friends and people with whom we share life that are the source of an amorphous antioxidant for the soul.

My absence from this blog in January was due to a period of mourning during which I was not prepared to write. On December 18th, my close, dear friend Jessica Fashano passed away. We had met 10 years ago at Georgetown, grown into adulthood as roommates and friends, and continued our collaborations and adventures after returning to New York City post-graduation. She was a source of unyielding love and support for all of us that knew her, and for many she did not know. She was an active volunteer in so many capacities: at Citigroup (where she worked), Acumen Fund, and here at Harboring Hearts. My heart -- and our heart -- still aches with the love we have for her, and the difficult process of accepting that she has moved on to another place.

I miss her, and will remember her today, her birthday, February 14. When I step back and look at what the powers-that-be have in our stars, it is hard to understand how a young lady with such a big heart, who could love both friends and strangers with such pure conviction, might have hid her own aching heart. We must remember that about the people we know, or just briefly meet: though we cannot always see the heart, we can always help each other's hearts, everyday, in so many ways; and that help -- that awareness -- can indeed change a life.

I co-founded Harboring Hearts in memory of my father, and this year will honor Jessica's legacy in the work we continue to do at Harboring Hearts; perhaps by developing a program to address specific needs of single mothers and children patients, the demographic Jessica Fashano cared so much about. It is appropriate to recognize that Heart Disease affects more women under the age of 40 than all cancers combined, and it was a relevant, surprising statistic that Jessica took to heart.

Our decisions at Harboring Hearts will continue to honor the courage and fortitude of heart patients and their families as we build a program that can give them the solace and love they deserve. Not just every February, or during treatment, but always. So that the family unit can have the best chance of enduring, and uniting, throughout the stress of treatment for heart disease; and so that we can provide both the physical structures and emotional network of love and support that foster a well-rounded and truly healthy heart.

In that mission, Harboring Hearts will recognize and keep alive the love and hearts of those we help, those who have left us, and of those who will follow.