So, June 26th really isn’t New Years . . . except in my head it is. This is the start of a new year for our family. Genevieve is 5 months post open heart surgery and is not scheduled back for a check up with her cardiologist until September. School is out and summer camp starts.
We celebrated our “New Year” surrounded by friends and family at Endicott Park in Danvers for the It’s My Heart Keep the Beat walk. While this is our 3rd year participating, it is the first year that Genevieve understood what it meant to battle a congenital heart defect. She has a complete awareness of how she got her zipper down her chest and she learned about pain, survival and recovery. It wasn’t pictures in a photo album or stories that her parents told . . . it was real. She also looked at the faces of the angels lost too soon with an understanding of death after losing her beloved cat and formulating questions about her own mortality as she prepared for surgery.
Over the past five months, we have struggled with recovery especially the emotional processing of it all leading to everything from sleep walking to insomnia for our little girl. While she returned to school about a month after surgery, she returned to a classroom that had cheered on Team Genevieve and that had supported us during her transition in and out of school. A classroom that received regular updates from her brother Harry and their teachers. She returned to school as the girl that had heart surgery. Genevieve has always owned and told her story freely but instead of a chapter, one part of her being, it became her everything.
The end of the school marks the end of a challenging year that included a heart catherization in November leading to surgery in January and a long recovery at home. While I am so thankful for all the support, we are ready to put it behind us. So it’s New Years for The Norton Family – we said good bye to 2nd grade and we celebrated today with our heart community.
Tomorrow, Genevieve will go to summer camp where she will have no restrictions outside of no contact sports and be able to return to “Genevieve being Genevieve”. I know that she will talk about her heart and that the counselors are aware of her condition . . . I also know that it will go back to being one part of my amazing multi-faceted daughter. She will swim, play on the ropes course and try archery. She will be a child enjoying long days outside. It’s our New Year, a new start.