While leaving the hospital yesterday after Charlie’s post-op appointment, my face was hurting from so much smiling. It felt good to feel something I haven’t felt in a very long time. There’s not a word for it. It’s the feeling a parent has when she can breathe because the best case scenario for her son’s recovery after open heart surgery is unfolding. It’s the feeling I felt as I was told my son’s body is amazing because of how quickly it’s healing; his incisions, weight, fluid levels, and saturations all look phenomenal. It’s a feeling that holds an infinite amount of gratitude towards complete strangers in the field of cardiology for saving my son’s life. Though we’re not exactly out of the woods because Charlie’s heart is not “fixed,” and there will be more repairs to come, it feels good to see pink fingers that were once blue. It feels good to identify a problem, address it, and see it solving itself through prayers, love, and cardiology.
I want to buy everyone that helped my son and I a new car…like Oprah’s audience members: Surgeon…YOU get a car; nurses, YOU get cars; phlebotomists, cars for YOU too! But really, how do you thank people for saving lives? The dozens of people that we encountered at Texas Children’s Hospital aren’t merely motivated by paychecks or thanks. They have a heart for hearts. They have an intrinsic gift that allows God to work through them as they do a miraculous job. Instead of expensive gifts, they get Charlie’s art, photos of him, small presents, and thank you notes. They get my utter respect and admiration for what they’ve done. Their real gift though, is seeing a beautiful boy grow, laugh, and play because of the care they provide.
I wrote a letter to Charlie’s surgeon before surgery and am working on one to deliver after surgery. I usually don’t struggle so much with words, but this new feeling is indescribable. No upcoming hospital stays. Waiting and watching as Charlie’s oxygen rises and his AVMs heal. I think that’s the way the best things are in life- wonderful feelings without words. But in writing my thanks, I do my best to express my appreciation for the smart and caring individuals that help Charlie live a life with CHD.
Dear Heart Surgeon,
Soon, your hands will operate on my heart. My heart beats outside of my body and is the bravest I’ve encountered. With each beat, it brings so much joy in the form of a little boy. You’ll know him as Charlie, a toddler with CHD…a straddling mitral valve, DORV, AVMs, and collaterals. But the rest of us know him as a Hot Wheel racing, bug catching, ball throwing, humorous, articulate and funny soul. His favorite color is orange, and he likes chocolate for breakfast. I could tell you about him all day long, but really, there are no words to fully describe him or my love for him. Suffice it to say, he’s my everything. That’s why when I say, “Thank you,” I want you to know I mean to say so much more. Words cannot convey my appreciation, but I’ll attempt it anyway:
Thank you for your knowledge and expertise. Thank you for explaining my son’s anatomy in a way that helps me grasp the complexity of his situation. Thank you for telling me the truth. Thank you for encouraging me to enjoy him each day. No, you and your team may not be able to guarantee a long life for Charlie. But thank you for trying anyway and for hearing me when I say that’s okay. I’m certain he’ll live forever. We believe God is the ultimate decision maker and healer, but He uses others to do His work. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. Love conquers all. My job isn’t to keep my son on earth forever, it’s to raise him to meet his maker and to have a soul that knows eternity. Your job isn’t to guarantee a long life, it’s to help his heart have a chance at one. Either way, both of our jobs are now intertwining in such a way that together, we’re playing a part in his story. I don’t know how or when it will end (no parent knows this of his or her child), but I do know Charlie is beyond blessed to have you in his life. I am blessed too.
Thank you for your part in giving a tiny heart more beats for us to enjoy. Thank you for doing your best to help save my little boy.
Sabrina, Charlie’s Mommy
Thank you to everyone in the field of cardiology, especially the ones that work the heart floors at TCH where little hearts are saved every day. Most recently, mine.