This is a blog post that was hosted recently on Best Selling Reads.
It was early morning. The sun hadn’t crested the horizon yet, and as we drove by the darkened homes I could imagine the people inside snuggled up in their beds, still catching those last minutes of sleep before getting up and starting their day. We were nearly alone on the highways while we drove east. The cold fingers of winter tried to pry their way into our van. Although I sat untouched from its reach, a bitter pain grew in my chest.
A flock of Canadian geese flew overhead. I’ve never understood why they choose Colorado over a warmer climate, but there they were, soaring through the bleak skies together as a large extended family on a winter holiday. The lopsided formation broke the silence with their honking as we glided over the black river of pavement, leading us to the hospital.
I turned around to look at her, my little angel, wide eyed in the back seat, too nervous to be tired or to watch the passing wildlife. When we arrived in the bright atrium of the hospital it had only begun to waken. Friendly faces, simple noises and smells distorted and numbed me. Time slowed.
Like a koala, she clung to me, her mommy. I was here to protect her, yet I was delivering her into the arms of pain. How could it make sense to her? Did she understand that we were only trying to help her?
Her voice was locked away, safe inside – the only thing that was in her control. When the time came and her eyes drooped into a soft and pleasant sleep, the nurses took her from me.
“We’ll take care of her. You’ll see her soon.”
The wait would have been unbearable if I had been awake, but I slept. I could not imagine a world without her in it. I refused to. So instead, I slept.
At her bedside, I knew I was where I needed to be. A motherly magnet, I snapped to her side, climbed under the covers and remained there, even as her poor body drooped and those terrible beeps rose, like a swarm of insects coming to frighten me away. Instead, a flurry of nurses clamored around us. Each held fluids and blood, ready to pump my sleeping princess with life so her delicate veins wouldn’t collapse.
This is one of the most painful memories I have. I’m sure you have your own – we all have them. This may not seem like a fitting story on Valentine’s Day, but it does have a happy ending.
My daughter was born with congenital heart defects like so many others, and has had two open-heart surgeries. When others focus on chocolates, red roses and sonnets, I am reminded of how lucky I am. My daughter is a healthy little girl and you would never guess the struggles she’s been through.
Heroes are born every day. I’m not talking about superheroes clad in spandex and masks. I’m speaking of the everyday heroes that walk the Earth like Clark Kent – in disguise. In fact, you probably know one, they’re not as uncommon as you may think.
I happen to have a very special hero of my own – my daughter. The scars that mark her chest will always be a reminder of what she’s been through. Even though her heart is unique and a little battered, it does not affect her ability to love or be loved.
So, this February and Valentine’s Day, rest well knowing you are surrounded by heroes, heroes who have battled and won. Who carry scars on their hearts, and keep going because they can.
Following her daughter’s second surgery, Natasha Brown wrote Fledgling, The Shapeshifter Chronicles (Book 1). She was inspired to write a story centered on a girl struggling with a heart condition. The novel was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Contest.