It felt good to go to the ER with a song and dance man. It felt good to let a star take the show as fear and anxiety took a back seat. I always make it a point to stay strong for my son and make our hospital visits a blast, but this time (our 8th visit to the emergency room) he showed me. This last time, we went to the ER for a “normal” reason. It wasn’t life or death…I didn’t worry about heart failure or an extended stay. I knew his face laceration would be mended, and we’d be on our way.
I can’t fully explain how happy I was to see Charlie five weeks post heart surgery having a blast in the hospital. Normal moms would not celebrate a face injury that will no doubt leave a scar, but then again, I’m not normal and neither is my son. And when I saw him with unbridled energy and contagious joy, I found myself laughing and thanking God as if we were at Disney World. Our life has made it so that everything is a celebration. Even a four hour ER visit.
It started off as a fun afternoon with Charlie running full speed and limitless. I sat on the sidelines watching him chase my aunt, excited by his new energy and content in knowing there was no harm in playing hide and seek. We were well within our post-op restrictions. He wasn’t climbing. He wasn’t submerged in water. There were no crowds. Just a boy running full speed ahead and enjoying life. Then a stationary bicycle pedal got the better of him as he found an unforeseen boundary, and when he cried out in pain, followed with what seemed like buckets of blood, I thought, “He’s good. This isn’t the end of his story.” Within seconds, he stopped crying, and as my aunt applied pressure to his face while I drove to the hospital, I felt blessed for the perspective his heart surgeries have given us. He seemed to know the real deal too as he laughed to our singing and playfulness.
When we arrived, a nurse commented on my demeanor. “Wow, Mom, you sure are handling this well.” Yep. This is a blink. This is nothing. I told her he was 5 weeks post operation, and right on queue, Charlie lifted his shirt to show her the real deal. The scar that speaks a million words yet leaves us all speechless….The ER doctor wore an expression of regret as he explained the cut would leave a scar and said I shouldn’t blame myself. These things happen. I laughed and said I no more blame myself for his face injury than I do for the clouds’ movement in the sky. I carry the gene that caused my son’s CHD. I was present when he ran into the bike. But try as I might, Charlie’s two years and two months with me have taught me that I control very little. I do, however, set a tone. As he sang, “If you’re happy and you know it,” to the six audience members by his bed, I felt sheer success and adoration. This boy is a survivor. Born and raised. The unstoppable Charlie Brown knows no limits. Prayers and example have taught him what life is all about, and you can’t get any better than that.
On our way home, I couldn’t stop smiling. Sure, it would be nice if his little body didn’t have an additional scar, but they all tell a story of survival. Heart surgery incisions, chest tube placements, a forehead injury, and now a cut on the cheek…Charlie has endured more than most people experience in a lifetime. As he slept on our way home, I thanked God for each one. These physical reminders of his journey don’t require pity or sorrow. They incite joy and gratitude. His scars are my inspiration. They serve as a testimony to life. They say, “The night sky is dark, but I’m a star.” They say, “I’m born to soar.” He’s a shooting star, and I hope his story is testimony to the blessings that come from pain and the love that grows best in suffering.