I can’t sing. At all. I always mouthed the words in school performances and barely whispered the lyrics during mass because the sound of my own voice hurts my ears. Forget karaoke. Charlie on the other hand, has a lovely voice and is a huge fan of my singing. In fact, singing along together is one of our favorite things to do. I make up new lyrics to common children’s songs and create new songs for him from time to time. His favorite is titled, “Let’s Go Fly a Plane,” and I sing it most nights before he falls asleep. “Let’s go fly a plane, up where the air is clear, let’s go even higher into the atmosphere, let’s go fly a plane…” As he closes his eyes, long lashes sealing his slumber, I imagine us…pilot and copilot taking off.
The thing is, Charlie can’t fly. His oxygen levels are too low, and depending on how his surgery goes, he may never fly. Who cares? He loves planes, and the words “can’t” and “never” are of no consequence to brave hearts. That’s why his birthday party was at the small airport park near our home, and that’s why I sang “Happy Birthday” the loudest and proudest. Maybe the adults wanted to cover their ears, but the children always know better. They happily sang along and heard the love carried in each word.
That’s the amazing thing about children and why I love them so much…their brains and hearts have little concept of the seemingly impossible. Sounding different, looking different, and acting different aren’t issues they process the same as adults.
Sure, it’s ironic that my CHD son had his 2nd birthday party at the airport. And yes, it hurts my heart that his favorite toys are “toppers” (helicopters) that he may never fly. But then I get myself together and cut the “adult thinking” out of my mind. When it comes to faith, the sky is the limit. My son WILL fly in a topper someday, and his oxygen levels WILL go up. I remember this and draw on my optimism and strength, but I also acknowledge the facts. Children recover quicker than adults after open heart surgery. Charlie has already beat the odds many times. Children, like Charlie, have an innate resiliency that the world (and their parents) unintentionally hinder. I’m working hard to pilot differently. To take us to higher heights.
So, I keep singing. It’s time for take off, Charlie. Let’s go fly a plane.