Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Writer, fueled by coffee

Speaking of hearts


I’ve had hearts on my mind.

One of the central images and metaphors of Sticks and Bones: Issue 1 (the kickstarter fairy tale comic that I’m creating with artist Madeline C. Matz)  is a heart. I don’t want to give too much away, but the first panel on the first page is a heart held in someone’s hands. You’ll have to read the comic to find out what happened and why.

Then real life caught up with my imagination. Last Tuesday, my husband Mark had a heart attack. We got to the hospital in time to discover a 100% blockage in the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery (aka “the Widowmaker”). This is the same artery he had a stent put in back in 2004. He had a longer, thinner stent put inside the existing stent. After a few days at the hospital, he’s now at home recovering.

The title of Issue 1 is Home Is Where the Hearth Is, a play on the idiom: Home is where the heart is. The fireplace (or hearth) was literally and symbolically the center (or heart) of the home, the place where people gathered to prepare food, share stories, keep warm. In the winter, it kept the inhabitants alive. No surprise that the spirits or guardians of the home are tied to this central, sacred spot, and they needed to be nourished, cherished, remembered.

This week I was reminded that our hearts also need to be nourished…by the way we live and by the people we love.

With everything going on, hearts have been the topic of conversation at our house. My son asked me about them, “The blood carries the love, right? That’s why I feel it here for you,” he pointed to the place where his six-year-old heart was pumping. “It starts here and spreads out.”

“It does,” I told him.

It starts here and spreads out.

Author: Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu is the author of THE SILENCE OF TREES and STICKS & BONES, as well as the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Born and raised in Chicago, Valya received her degree in English at DePaul University and her MFA in Writing as part of the inaugural class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since receiving her MFA, Valya has worked as a college professor, obituary writer, content manager, internal communications specialist, co-producer of an independent feature film, and Goth cocktail waitress.


  1. I have just finished “The Silence of the Trees.” It is one of those rare stories that will stay with me for a very long time. I will recommend it to everyone. Beautiful, incredibly beautiful, rich, uplifting, freeing…all these words came to mind as a read each page. Nadya’s painful journey and self-imposed prison were so real. Regrets, guilt and sorrow build such strong walls. Thank you for writing this incredible story. Brava!

  2. Thank you so much, Nanci!

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