Sunday, August 29, 2010

"human beings have the remarkable ability to adapt to anything." ~ Dostoyevsky

i was emailing back and forth with someone the other week, and she made an interesting comment. we were talking about a heart kid and his mom, what they were going through at the time, how to help, that sort of thing. and she said something that, for some bizarre reason, caught me off-guard and stuck with me, and i've been thinking about it ever since. i don't remember the exact context, but she used the phrase, "you moms who deal with so much more than the rest of us."

why did this phrase stand out to me? i think i know why:

it never really occurs to me that i do deal with more than anyone else. is that weird? and i'm not trying to be funny here or anything. i'm being completely serious. i don't actually see this life as being anything "out of the ordinary." and don't forget, asher is not my only child. i have two older kids, who are completely healthy.  bram had some dental work a couple years ago, but that's it. and blithe has never had anything more invasive than a flu shot. so it's not like heart life is all i know of parenting. i know the life everyone else takes for granted. so why do i not think of SN life as anything other than average?

honestly, i don't know the answer to this question. i have some theories, mind you, and i'd like to share them with you:

  • my parents. for those of you who know them, that's all i need to say. for those of you who don't... they're amazing. they have been such a help to me over the last few years. this spring, while asher and i were in the hospitals, blithe and bram went to stay with my parents. for six whole weeks. and my parents were here yesterday helping me out with stuff around the house and watching the kids while i went out. they are unbelievable, and i couldn't do this without them.
  • i have an incredible support network. i really do. i was blessed with a multitude of people who pray for us, visit us, help us. when asher was in london PCCU with a heart rate of 30, i called a friend at 12:30 at night. when they answered, i just burst into tears. no hello, no "it's heather," nothing. just sobbing. my friend said, "i'll be right there." and in less than 15 minutes, i was drinking a fresh timmies and bawling while my friend handed me kleenex and listened. that's just one example. another example would be the two friends who were with me in the waiting room during asher's fontan. and those same friends visited me in the hospital, called when they couldn't make it in, and updated the blog for me. someone else sent out an email to dozens of people as soon as he heard about asher's pacer infection, and within an hour, hundreds of people were praying for us. i could go on, but you get the idea. my kids and i are loved.
  • call me crazy, but i don't believe there is actually anything "wrong" with asher. there are plans for this boy, big plans. divine plans. and none of them could happen if asher had a healthy heart (etc). and because of that, i can go about this life knowing that somewhere, somehow, something God-esque is going to happen. and in the meantime, i get to watch for it. how cool is that?
there are a couple other considerations. one of the them is this:

we started off with "your baby is going to die. so pull yourself together and say your good-byes." and let me tell you, there is no worse news than that, my friend. none. so after hearing those words, everything else has been a bonus. because, you know... it could be worse. we could not have to deal with this stuff. we could not have to make all those trips to emerg. we could not have all these specialists. we could not have all these admissions.

now, don't get me wrong. i'm no pollyanna here. i don't see this life as being all sunshine and rainbows. because, quite frankly, sometimes it sucks. but you know what? it sucks when your healthy 7-year-old has tonsillitis. it sucks when your 8-month old has a cold. it sucks when your teenager rebels. it sucks when your toddler walks into a doorknob. it sucks when your grown child has cancer. but...

it's amazing when your child wakes up and runs into your room and says, "mommy, i just love you soooooo much!" it's amazing when your child starts school. it's amazing when your child says, "mommy, i do it myself." it's amazing when your child laughs. it's amazing when your child naps. it's amazing when your child holds your hand to cross the street. it's amazing when your child moves from the crib to a big-kid bed. it's amazing when your child practices "criss-cross applesauce, hands in your lap." it's amazing when your child gets dressed on his own for the first time ever. it's amazing when your child draws you a picture. it's amazing when your child washes said picture off the wall (true story). it's amazing when your child kicks a ball around in the backyard. it's amazing when your child crawls into bed with you at night. it's amazing when your child's face lights up when thomas comes on TV. it's amazing when your child has fun in sunday school.

perspective is a good thing. when i "knew" that asher was going to die during the glenn, i was talking about it with a dear friend. she said, "you don't know he'll die." "oh, yes, i do," i sobbed, "he's not going to grow up. he's going to die very, very soon." "you don't know that," she repeated, "you don't know. sure, he might not survive. he might die next week. but then again, he might not. and you have no guarantees blithe and bram will grow up. they could get sick or fall off a swing or whatever and die. i don't want those things to happen, but you never know. you just don't know." and you know what? that morbid little line, that reminder that i have no guarantees about my other kids, gave me so much hope for asher. i have no guarantees with asher; he might not grow up. but you know what? he just might. so while he's here, i'll just find joy where i can. sure, it's pretty freaxiating at times; i don't deny that. again, i'm not living in a dreamland here where everything is hunky-dorey and lollipops and cotton candy. i'm living in reality here, and sometimes that reality sucks. it hurts and it's scary and it's harder than you can even imagine (if you're not living it, that is). but i choose not to dwell on all that. i choose to enjoy this littlest man of mine. it's hard sometimes, i'll admit. but there's (almost) always something in every situation to rejoice in. asher's smile and pink toes post-fontan. a visitor bringing baskets of candy, chocolate and reading material while we were in PCCU. onion rings with gravy. poutine. bawling and laughing (simultaneously) with a friend. these are some of the blessings. and i hold those very close to my heart all the time, because otherwise, i would suffer way more than i actually do.

i don't deal with "so much more" than anyone else. i just deal with different things. we all have a lot to deal with in life from time to time. i don't think i could ever move across the country, away from my family and friends. i don't think i would be all that comfortable with immense wealth (i'm weird, i know). that being said, i could never cope with intense heat, war and abject poverty. there is no way i could deal with a cranky child (which is why two of my kids have names that mean "happy"... and yes, asher is one of them). i don't do loneliness well. i would freak out if there were lions prowling the streets. i am miserable without God, friends, chocolate, coffee, and poutine. i know people who have these situations in their lives, and frankly, i don't know how they deal with it. (ok, i don't know anyone who has lions prowling the streets. that was a joke from a friend in south africa.)

but dostoyevsky was a wise man. he wrote, "human beings have a remarkable ability to adapt to anything." and it's true. this is my normal, and there are some people reading this who might not be able to cope with it. but to be fair, i don't think i could ever deal with your normal, either. we're given what we can deal with, and what is stressful to one person is no big deal to someone else. and that includes heart life. it's all relative.


Hope's Blog said...

Oh my goodness...that is the best post I have read in a really long time and maybe it is because I really needed perspective and a little cheerleading. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I am sure there are many parents that would agree with everything you wrote.p

Megan Allen said...

This is an amazing post. It gives me a point of view that I have never explored myself. Thank you so much for opening my eyes. <3