A Boy and His Heart

Tonight I would like to repost something I wrote on the More-Coffee-Mama blog more than a year ago about a boy and his heart. 

Today the call came for a family that has been waiting and worrying.  Today this family will have renewed hope as another family suffers loss and heartbreak.  Today I am overwhelmed with anxiety and worry and I can't imagine how it must be for his parents.  We wait.  We pray.  We send positive thoughts and wishes their way.  We hug our children closer than ever.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

Cross my heart. From the bottom of my heart. I'm heartbroken. My heart aches. My heart is filled with joy. My heart is overflowing with love. Wearing my heart on my sleeve. My heart goes out to you. My heart belongs to you. I love you with all my heart. Let's get down to the heart of the matter.

Phrases that so easily slip into everyday conversation.

I've been thinking about this post for a while. Thinking about what I might say. Thinking that I don't really want to write it, because putting it in words, putting it out into the universe, makes it real. And it has taken me two months to finally post it.

But it is real, no matter what. Whether I write about it or not.

So I will, to honor a brave little boy, his fight, and his amazing family.

In March, I received an email from a good friend from college with news that made my heart ache.  She is one of my "UMD Gang," a group of women who, with one exception, worked together as apartment RAs at UMD and have stayed close over the years. She was my rock when I lived in Mankato for two years for graduate school -- she and her husband were always there for me, whether it was for dinner at their house, a movie, a walk around the neighborhood, a space in their garage to store my furniture in-between apartments, or extra patrols through my drug-infested neighborhood.

One icy winter day, their first son was born at the hospital in Mankato, the third baby of this group of friends, but the first one I'd been able to visit just after his birth. He was just a few hours old. And his parents were blissful.

Fast forward nine years. There have been a lot of other babies born to this strong group of friends, including two of my own. Every one of them is special. Some of those babies are growing up as close friends; some see one another once or twice a year to splash around at the water park. Every single one of them holds a space of honor on my cluttered refrigerator photo gallery and a special place in my heart.

The parents of these babies have had their share of challenges, and the babies have had their share of mishaps -- broken bones, illnesses, fevers just before getting on airplanes for the vacation of a lifetime. But nothing so serious, so heart-wrenching, as the fact that Ethan needs a new heart.

Weeks have passed since that first email from Ethan's mom.  Many tears have fallen from so many people, many prayers have been offered up for that little boy.  He endured days of testing at Children's and Mayo.  He's been tired and ill and his little heart is doing an awful lot of work while they wait for the call to come.  Ethan's family normally spends the summer touring the midwest in their RV, camping and exploring the wilderness.  Not this year.  This year they're staying close to home.  Ethan and his little brother Sam are enjoying the new backyard clubhouse that was built for them from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Ethan's uncle and friends of the family are putting together fundraisers and events.  I've contacted the Minnesota Vikings to see if they'll do something special for him.  We're wearing green ribbons for transplant awareness.

Ethan is a strong little guy.  His is a strong, faithful family.  The support and encouragement they've received from their community, their family, and their friends near and far is heartwarming.  Toad and I talk about Ethan a lot, and always, always, my sensitive, compassionate little boy ends the conversation with, "I'm so sorry this is happening to him."

Imagine the sorrow, the helplessness, the pure sadness Ethan's parents must feel when they think about all they've been through and all that lies ahead.  I look at my own children and think -- what if?  What if something like this were to happen to Toad and Birdy?  And again, my heart aches for my dear friends.

And it offers perspective.  A reminder that the little things aren't such a big deal.  Writing this today, weeks after hearing the news, I'm reminded that I shouldn't make such a big deal out of the fact that Toad quit soccer or that he won't dunk his head at swimming lessons and will have to take that level over again.  Does it really matter that he's watched five hours of TV over the course of this day?  I shouldn't have gotten so upset this morning when Birdy spilled her milk -- no, not just spilled -- propelled the glass off the counter and milk splashed all over the floor, the stools, the dog, me.  She's been potty-trained for more than a year -- was it worth getting upset this weekend when she had two accidents in one day?  My children are healthy.  Their hearts and lungs and legs and minds are strong. 

Love your children.  Hug them.  Take a deep breath.

Take heart and tell yourself it's not so bad.

Ethan and Toad
Jellystone Park, August 2009


  1. It sounds like out of one family's sorrow, another family will have a chance for life reinvigorated. I send prayers and hope all works out well.


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