His heart was radiating too much love…


I have had my heart broken a few times.

A few times too many.

They have all been different.

I’m sure yours have too…

If I could wish anything on anyone it would be a broken heart.

I know that sounds horrible, but

Not a severe broken heart, just something that makes you feel something more.

I think my first real broken heart was when I found out my mom was sick.

When I say sick, i don’t mean that she didn’t feel good, I knew she didn’t feel good for months.

But to know that she was terminally sick, and that there was no longer anything that we could do for her.

That our love, our family and medicine couldn’t save her.

Broke my heart.

And not in a way that would ever get better.

It still hasn’t.

That was my mom.

The woman who raised me and made me into the woman that I am.

And the woman that I strive to be forever, to this day.

I believe if you were to ask most little girls if they could live without their mom,

They would say no. I still sometimes believe that.

I want to call. To yell. To literally stair step my way to heaven to hug her.

Last night I had a dream of her. I don’t know what It was about or what we were even doing.

But my alarm went off. It woke me up.

And made that sweet face that I imagine daily, just disappear.

I was so mad.

I closed my eyes right away.

Clenched them tightly. Breathed in.

And tried to go back to 3 seconds ago when I was in the same moment with her.

I could see her face. I could imagine her touch.

I saw her goofy shoes and her backpack.

But she was gone..


And for another time, my heart broke.

I think losing someone that you cant live without is the hardest when you realize that you really are living without them.

My dads heart broke when my mom passed away. I think more than mine.

Or really any ones.


But his heart broke a few weeks ago, again.

But in a completely different way.

Heart problems are hereditary.

But heart breaks are even more common.

I never knew what the difference was between your heart hurting from a broken heart and just having a faulty heart.

Dad had been feeling bad for a few weeks leading up to it.

I met him and Cindy the weekend before in T or C to play golf and hang out for the day.

He didn’t look well, but convinced her and I that he would “go to the doctor later.”

Like what is the deal with men and doctors?

They never want to go.

They never go to the right one.

And when they do go they don’t listen to anything they say.

Sooooo any ways….

On Tuesday of that week we went out for Morgens 31st birthday.

Dinner, drinks, presents and a mountainous piece of dark chocolate cake.

Dad was still feeling sick, I knew this because he

  1. Only had a few bites of cake.
  2. Only had 2 beers
  3. I would say he didn’t want to stay for gifts, but he normally never wants to do that because like most men they don’t even know what they got for a gift, their name just ends up on the card.


Cindy, him and I all headed back to the house.

(my dad is a pretty good roommate)

It was around 8pm and my bedtime so I hit the 4 post queen bed with sleepy time tea in hand and got my snooze on.

I woke up the next morning at 4:45am to get ready for the gym.

I usually don’t see my roommate until after I get home from my workout at around 6:30am.

But as I walked out I noticed that the front door was locked, but our entry gate was unlocked.

This was odd to me.

But it was also 5:15am in the morning and I was just concerned with making sure my workout pants aren’t inside out or backwards.

But when I got outside his truck was gone, so I figured like any concerned parent is with their child.

(Im the concerned parent here)

He probably just decided to stay at his hot new girlfriends house.

Gosh- he is so much cooler than me guys.

Anyways… these are all the thoughts that go through my head as I make my way to the gym.

I never bring my phone by me when I workout, but for some reason I did that morning.

I placed it on the bench.

Half way through my WOD, my phone starts ringing.

This is odd, really odd.

Because nobody calls me. Especially at 5:45am.

So when I saw it was my dad, my heart did a little jump.

His voice calm.

Mine not so much.

He said he was at the hospital. Followed by the not so calming words, “don’t freak out.”


Okay dad.

I won’t…

So he basically tells me absolutely zero details about what was actually going on and just says not to worry.

I tell him, okay and that I would be up to the hospital after I shower and get ready for work.

I get to the hospital a little before 8am.

I walk through the ER enterance and ask the ladies up front what room my dad is in.

For some reason sometimes I don’t use his name because I feel like everyone knows who he is in this town.

they tell me a room and I start walking into a familiar place.

Hospital halls.

White, clean, quite and condescending.

Ive lived in these halls, not these exact ones.

But ones just like it.

Where you don’t see daylight for days.

And the world that spins on the outside of these walls, isn’t the world you’re living in on the inside.

Where beeping and medicine are a forever background noise to every conversation.

As I loop a corner, confused and lost. I ask a nurse to point me to the room number.

She says “John? No hunny he already went  back into surgery.”

I ask, “is his girlfriend here?”

She says, “No sweetie, he has been here since 11pm last night and nobody has been here……….”






I laugh and say, “Ohhhh well that’s good, I swear im not a horrible daughter, he just didn’t tell me he was here till 6 this morning.”

So theres that.

I find Cindy, his girlfriend, in the ICU waiting room.

As the story starts to unfold and I begin to realize what is going on, I can only think my life will never be boring.

Lets break this down.


The night before, I went to bed.

Cindy decided she was going to go back to her house, so she left.

My dad started having pains and uncomfortable feelings in his chest.

His left arm hurt.

He was having some stomach issues.

He googled it.

And between the options of having a brain tumor or having a heart attack he decided that all signs pointed to a faulty heart.

So he took off.

Yeah…. He just went to the hospital.

He literally walked past my room while exiting the house mid heart attack to drive


Awesome dad. Truly awesome.

So while I was sleeping beauty my dad is driving to the hospital on an empty tank of gas and a heart that is not pumpiong enough blood.

  • I know his truck was on empty because I had to drive it home and I barely made it out of the parking lot.

Okay… Lets get back the ICU waiting room.

I ask Cindy what was going on, she said she didn’t really know except that the nurse told her that hes been having a minor heart attack for a few days.

Yeah, just a few days.

Like what?

Again, awesome dad.

They took him back into the Cath Lab to see if they needed to put some stints in his heart.

As we sat in the dark room, Morgen showed up to turn on the lights.

2 hours later, the doctor and nurse came in. We stood up and greeted them.

“You can sit down”

I honestly hate those words. Its like I don’t want to sit. I would rather stand and let my knees lock out and pass out before you tell me more bad news.

But I listened.

The nurse started…

She said that once they got in, there was no way that they would be able to just put stints into the arteries.

They were too corroded.

It would be an injustice.

“So he is scheduled for a double bypass tomorrow morning”

Hold the f….. ront door.

Im pretty sure all of our faces dropped because the nurse said, “you guys look a little surprised.”

I said uhhhh yea, I didn’t even know my dad was sick. Let alone had heart problems, or would need stints or better yet have open heart surgery.

The nurse and doctor were calm and understanding. They answered all our questions, talked us through the surgery and recovery and let us know that he would be just fine.

And just like that, Papa john was going to get a revamped heart.

The next morning we got to ICU at 5:30am so that we could hang with the big man before he went into surgery.

We ended up knowing the ICU head nurse so she gave us all the best of everything.

As he rolled out, we gave kisses and made jokes.

We headed back to ICU waiting room and began the… well… waiting.

It was a scheduled 4 hour surgery.

We talked, we signed Christmas cards, we instagrammed, we watched the cooking channel, we did waiting room yoga, we kept all our friends and family in the loop.

God, that man has some great people in his life that care for him so much.

We decided that his heart was just too big and it radiated too much love for too long that it just needed some fixing.

If that is one thing that I know, its that my dad has a heart that is pure gold.

He used to tell us that his dad never really hugged, kissed or said I love you to him and that he would never let a day go by without saying it to us.

I remember when I was little he would travel a lot. He was gone pretty often so we started to play the “I love you” Game. This consisted of being the first person to say I love you to the other every single day. My mom would help me trick him over the phone by letting me sneak on and yell it.

I would run into his room when he was home just to win.

Now I know there was no real winner. We both won.

He is the light of my life and I am so thankful for him, his heart and his competitive attitude…

because just for the record I did win more often than most.

So as the hours went on, It began to sink in that this life I live is ever changing.

That I couldn’t imagine losing another prominent character in this book of life.

That even though i am content and unfortunately relative familiar with heart break.

I just don’t think my heart could handle his heart not making it.

The surgeon came in, calm and light.

The words, “he did great.” Rolled so easily off his lips.

I could’ve just screamed and kissed him. (I opted out of both options and just sat there with a smile)

As we are chatting, he gets a phone call.

It’s the nurses, they are with my dad and he just woke up and is putting up a good fight.

His exact words, “just go ahead and sedate him again.”

Hahahahaha we all started laughing because that is exactly dad.

He had some really great news though, the surgery went exactly as planned. His blood pressure, heart rate never went down. He did great through the whole thing.

The surgeon even got to replace the ventricles with two arteries from his chest wall instead of his leg which is really great.

Veins from the leg aren’t used to high pressure of blood flow, but the arteries from his chest are so the likilyhood of something happning to then new and improved heart is drastically lower.

He tells us that he will come get two of us to be there while they wake him up again to calm him down.

Morgen and I head back there.

I walk into this ICU room with wires, monitors, tubes, nurses and my sweet guy laying motionless with the cutest red heart pillow laying gently on his chest.

As we wait and watch him start waking up, I couldn’t imagine a world without him.

I also couldn’t imagine another person being so frantic waking up from sedation.

Holy shit.

They put these big white mittens on his hands so he would pull out his ventilator.

Because by all means, he would’ve done that.

His hands were moving right to left, grabbing at the breathing tube.

We sat by his side and tried to calm him down.

Talked, rubbed his hands and watch him go in out of sleep.

We switched in and out, me, Cindy and morgen for a few hours.

But for the rest of the day we just watched him sleep.

Then wake up like a bat outta hell. The reason he was struggling was because his body was awake and was actually fighting the ventilator, so instead of letting that machine do all the work, he was reversing it because he was breathing himself. So it felt like he couldn’t actually breathe.

They gave us a normal timeline of bypass patients.

24 hours on the ventilator.

He got it out in 12.

36 hours to start walking.

He walked the next day.

Chest tube on day 4.

Yanked out on day 3.

Hospital should be 5 minimum days.

He got out in 4 and that was because it was a Sunday and everything was in slow motion.

The surgeon had nothing but wonderful things to say about his progress.

They told us he was the Chuck Norris of bypass surgeries.

But he really is amazing.

His attitude, determination and understanding towards the situation was remarkable.

But these are the traits that he’s taught us.

It was actually extremely surreal being back in a hospital again.

A little part of me missed it.

This little part of me misses Houston and that life I lived.

I had everything I needed in a small hospital room and that apartment.

Some of the best moments were there with sean my dad, morgen, jeff, Shelby, Dakotah, Thomas, Sam but mostly with Erin.

Getting to take care of her and spend quality time talking about life, love and everything in between.

Nurse Kelsey is my ultimate second life job.


We got dad home, rearranged our home and stocked our cabinets with soup, bagels, oatmeal and fruit.

Home boy was coming home to a whole different world.

One with an emphasis on healthy eating, walking every day and less whiskey on the rocks.

I like to think that everything happens for a reason, I was supposed to be traveling Australia for the full year, but I think I was sent home so that I could be here for this.

From the first step through the door it was so nice to have him home and getting better.

He carried that heart pillow on his chest, everywhere he went.

And everyday he has gotten stronger.

He is one tough dude.

I know that because he raised three girls.

But also because his life has never been easy but he has stayed humble and kind.

So thank you all for checking on him, praying for him and sending good vibes and positive thoughts, they were felt and fully used.

He is on the road to recovery and on his way to causing a lot more trouble and living a long chaotic life.

He is also not allowed to sneak out of the house anymore.

I like to ask him what it feels like,

what having heart surgery felt like.

If he feels like his heart works better or if he feels better than ever?

One afternoon he replied with words I don’t think ill ever forget.

He said, “people ask me about my heart now, and how having a heart attack must’ve hurt pretty bad. But to tell you the truth, nothing has hurt my heart as much as losing your mom. Now that’s a heart break. That’s something that really hurt my heart.”

So now I fully understand the difference between a faulty heart and a broken heart.

And my goodness, they are two worlds apart.


Merry Christmas ya’ll…

A new year and new fancy look, so enjoy the soft opening of this cute little website, details coming very soon!

Its easy when you make the conscious choice every chance you get-

Choose love,


  • Natalie McMillan
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    I love this. Thank you so much for sharing. Such a beautiful story. Cried through most of it haha. Thank you!

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    Beautiful, Kelsey! I’m so glad your dad is doing alright! I hope you have a wonderful holiday! Best wishes to you and your family! <3

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