This fucking sucks – yes – there is that F word again.
Genevieve has overheard bits and pieces of conversations lately – with the school, between Al and I, with my parents, with the dance teacher, with the doctors and nurses in the recovery room post catherization. While you do your best to protect them and to focus on the holiday season, little eyes are always watching and little ears are always listening. Tonight, she came to us with her questions. While I am thankful that she feels comfortable enough to talk to us . . . it still sucks.
Tonight, she came to us with all of the “why” questions and we once again entered into a conversation that we were unprepared for. While I prefer to be the planner, I think in this situation, we are better being real with her. Even if I could script out the conversation like one of the Call Guides that I teach at work, she would take me off course into unchartered areas throwing objections that would require me to answer honestly and to think on my feet. Nothing prepares you for these conversations.
My heart feels as if it is breaking as I do my best to answer my daughter’s questions on her own “broken” heart. We do this because we want you to be well, to be able to keep playing, dancing, swimming, Little League and whatever else you want to do. I don’t know why you were born with a heart defect – sometimes things like this just happen. I do not know why God made you this way, I just know that God put you with parents and family that love you so much and made it possible for you to be treated by the best doctors in the world at Boston Children’s Hospital. You will never be alone for you are surrounded by people that love you.
Why does it have to be so soon? Why January? Why not April or May? Because January is a good month, it is after the holidays and you will be recovered in plenty of time to get back to your dance recital and First Communion. It is a good time to snuggle up in a warm house and rest.
What if they make a mistake? They won’t. Your doctors are the best in the world. People come from all over to be treated here.
I am scared, I am worried. To this I have no answers – truthfully, she is making a statement so perhaps it doesn’t require an answer. I am scared and worried, too. So my baby G, you are not alone. I am here when you need to talk. I will do my best to answer your questions and to find you the help and support you need as we go through this.
And then there is my son, he thinks before he speaks and his questions tend to be very direct. He turns to his twin sister, “I don’t want to scare you more but . . . ” and then mother’s intuition kicks in as I know what he is going to say. Harry, you talk to me. I pull him close so that he can whisper his question to me, to just me. Can you die in open heart surgery? There is only one answer to that question – right or wrong – they are 7 years old. NO! No no no, Genevieve is going to be fine. We’ve got this.
After an hour of talking, watching YouTube videos of her surgeon, some extra TV time to try to distract her from her fear and worries, we finally get them tucked back into bed. Pray for a good night’s sleep and peaceful dreams – she needs it.
And now that they are back in bed, I am wrecked. I am crying as I type this out – it is not fair, nothing about this is fair. I am physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually drained from the conversation. I am worried, I am scared and I am struggling. I am angry at the universe and I am hoping that in writing, I will find a moment of peace as I, too, need to sleep. My children need me and I need rest to find the strength to be present.
We’ve got this – there are no other options. We will because we must.
Here is my Harry & Genevieve, we knew this day would come. Years ago, I ordered Healing Helpers. These teddy bears have been modified to include a zipper pouch in it’s chest and a heart. Gen’s has her initials and stitches to represent heart surgery. Harry’s has his initials. My hope is that this will help them to feel connected when they are apart. Twin bears for my twin babies.