For most of us February is a month to celebrate love, we use Valentine’s Day as en excuse to shower our loved ones with affection. February also happens to be Heart Month, another great excuse to love, appreciate and celebrate the moments a healthy heart has given our friends and family.
When I was in elementary school, we’d have the Heart & Stroke Foundation come to our classrooms where we would participate in a jump rope skipathon and watch an elite team of skipping athletes take centre stage. I’d be lying if I didn’t think that was the coolest job ever. Most importantly, we’d learn heart healthy facts—like in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or a stroke every seven minutes or that heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and hospitalization. I don’t know if the stats really sank in as much as the skipping athletes became my career goals, but as I grew older the brutal realities of heart health really set in.
My best friend growing up (and still is!) Natalia, like any two girls we shared fantasies of what our lives would look like when we were ‘grown-ups’. This often included being next-door-neighbours, sharing a stable full of horses and our younger siblings married to one another! We needed a way to be officially related, and this was it! Our families grew up together, they are our extended family.
In 2014, Natalia’s brother Matthew passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at only 21 due to mitral valve prolapse, a rare heart condition. The devastation that rang through their family was and still is deafening. I can only speak to what I felt, the helplessness of not being able to take the pain away or erase the whole thing was crushing. Natalia and her family have moved on the best they can—I don’t think there ever really is a way to truly move on, but you try to create a new normal. Time and time again I think back to Matthew and the moments lost. Like playing with his nephew, my handsome god son, Kamil.
A little over a year ago, my grandma suffered a stroke. We are beyond fortunate that she survived but she never fully recovered, and we are still to this day learning to live with aftermath.
One of my favourite memories with her would be eagerly waking her up waaaaay too early (4AM! Sorry, Grandma!) and forcing her to watch my favourite fairytale of ALL TIME Beauty and The Beast with me for what may have seemed like the millionth time to her. I know I have it ‘easy’ as far as families dealing with the effects of heart and stroke, I still have my Grandma but life just isn’t the same. With the upcoming release of the live-action adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast I can’t help but think here is another moment stolen.
This February, Heart & Stroke Foundation is working hard to give us #moremoments with the ones we love and I’m so grateful for these moments with my loved ones.
They’ve teamed up with MoMA’s graphic designer Paula Scher and iconic Canadian brand, Roots Canada to produce a limited edition collection of toques ($26) and leather bracelets ($10). Partial proceeds of the toques and bracelets go towards the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s continuing support the medical breakthroughs as well as important health promotion and advocacy work.
In support of #MoreMoments, snap a pic capturing a moment that makes you happy—a moment you wish you could have more of— a favourite meal, playing with the pooch in the off-leash dog park or just enjoying the time you do have with your loved ones while wearing your Heart & Stroke Roots bracelet or toque, available at roots.ca
Images by M&Him Photography
Thank you to Roots Canada for sponsoring this post. All comments and opinions are my own.