Last night, Ryan and I were talking about Maggie going to heart camp this summer. At heart camp, Maggie will meet more children just like herself… more kids in the “zipper club”. She will see these kids every year. They will grow up together and make unforgettable bonds. They will have a bond that she shares with very few of her friends. They will have special hearts like hers. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that she will most likely have to say goodbye to some of those friends. Some of them will not return to camp the next year. We wondered if we were doing her more harm than good. Are we setting her up for more heart ache than is necessary?
We, as her parents, felt that we knew the answer to that question. We feel that those common bonds are just as important for her as a heart child as my relationships with fellow heart moms are for myself. Yes, it brings more heart ache at times, but those relationships are vital for survival on this journey.
Today, Maggie and I were interviewed by our local paper as a follow up to a story written about Maggie 4 years ago. Before the journalist arrived, I was asking Maggie some questions. Some of them were questions that I don’t think I’ve ever asked her before. I asked her what she remembered about being in the hospital, what she liked, her favorite dr. Those were the easy ones.
Then I asked her this: “Mags, what do you like the least about having a special heart?” I swallowed the lump in my throat and waited for her answer.
“The shots, Mommy.” she said. It didn’t surprise me. That’s what she remembers the most about her last surgery. While she was only 2 yrs old, I don’t think she will ever forget Dr. Gandhi giving her multiple shots of local anesthetic in her side as her Daddy held her down, and her beloved Dr. Gandhi inserted a tube several inches in to her chest to drain off the horrid fluid that had been filling her chest for two weeks while we thought she was recovering beautifully at home. It is most certainly etched in my mind, never to be erased, and I think it is for her as well.
However, it’s the answer to the next question that made me smile from ear to ear and filled my eyes with tears of joy.
“What do you like most about having a special heart?”
This girl could have answered a million things: she’s been spoiled with tons of great presents, she goes to a hospital with a fabulous playroom and a beautiful rooftop garden, and she just wished for a trip to Disney World with Make a Wish. However, I don’t think any of these entered her mind. She didn’t hesitate.
“My Heart Friends,” she said with the sweetest smile on her face. This was the answer Ryan and I needed. I went straight to the source and she is as thankful for her heart friends as I have always dreamt she would be. They are a treasure to her and that is priceless. She needs them as she walks on this journey.