Don’t cry when the sun is gone, because the tears won’t let you see the stars–Violeta ParraI believe it can be hard to let go of the past…even if the past was hard. For a long time, after Abby’s heart transplant, I missed the relative ease of life before her heart failure. When Abby’s diagnosis was only Tetralogy of Fallot, when Abby’s heart troubles were thought to be behind us, and even when Abby was living with left ventricular heart failure, life seemed simpler. For the last couple months, adjusting to Abby’s new life with a new heart has been difficult for me. Everything about it felt difficult, and I admit that I definitely focused on all we had lost when the sun was “gone” so to speak. For those of you wondering what we could have possibly lost when Abby had her transplant, I hope you don’t mind if I share with you. The list includes (and probably isn’t limited to) only seeing the cardiologist once a year, changing to a new team of cardiologists, being MUCH less worried about diseases and sickness, going out in public (at least for quite some time), Abby’s last few months of elementary school, Abby’s first few months of Jr. High, Abby’s first year of girl’s camp with her church group, Abby’s first year of youth conference with her church group, no traveling, medicine free days, the knowledge that most transplants last 15-20 years…and then what?, Abby’s ability to carry and have her own children, a child with a less severe health condition, and a world free of so much WORRY.
That is the list we have been dwelling on and worrying over. I was talking to Abby’s Nona the other day, when I finally was able to LET go of dwelling on all we had lost, and start focusing on all we had gained instead. There is SO much to this list and so much of it I have yet to discover. Abby’s Nona brought this to my attention and helped me frame this thought better when she explained that the thought of doctors taking Abby’s heart out was terrifying…and hard to let go of. Abby’s old heart is the one we had come to love. Even giving up that old heart and knowing it is sitting in a plastic container on a shelf for educational purposes at Primary Children’s Hospital makes me a little sad still. And then it hit me, Abby’s heart is W.H.O.L.E. How beautiful is that? What a miracle is that? She can run with the endurance of her friends. She can walk up stairs without getting winded. She can grow. In the midst of this conversation, I thought back on a memory from a couple years ago.
The last time we were at Disneyland, Abby and I ventured on Space Mountain, my favorite roller coaster. As we got on the roller coaster and began to venture into the darkness and deafening sound of the ride, I panicked. I couldn’t watch Abby or see her or hear her…so I did all I could think of…I kept putting my hand over her chest to feel her heart beating. It didn’t skip a beat…and at a moment when I could actually hear her yells over the roar of the ride, she screamed, “What are you doing?”
I yelled back, “making sure you are okay!”
“I’m JUST FINE!” she responded laughing at me.
And that will never happen again! Ever! The next time we ride roller coasters or thrill rides, Abby will have a beautiful whole heart that I don’t need to worry about. We have met a new team of cardiologists and doctors we have come to love like our last (and our last cardiologist incidentally performs most of Abby’s biopsies), Abby can adopt, 15-20 years is more than we would have had without a transplant, medical science is rapidly racing toward some amazing cures and breakthroughs for our heart patients, Abby will be able to go to school again and meet a whole new world of friends while still holding on to friendships that will always mean the world to her because of what they went through together. In short, she has years and years of an amazing life to live…because of the heart transplant.
I still am sad the sun is gone…but I have to admit that the stars are breathtaking…and I won’t blurry them up with any more tears!