And Just Like That, It's Time
t's 1 AM and I'm wide awake. It's partly due to the fact that this is the only time I can be completely honest with myself and admit that the haze of sadness I've been walking around in for two days hasn't gone away. We've finally heard the words that we'd thought we were prepared for: "It's time."
Sure, it's easy to occupy your time and push the sadness down, but it's still there. Just waiting for Josh to go to bed. When the house quiets and the vivid pictures of what you know is coming creep back to the surface.
Logically, I know this is inevitable. Yet the knowing it and the hearing the actual words are two completely different things. Even after what we've been through, it's still a shot to the gut.
There really are no words to make it better. There's nothing we can do. And there's certainly no "getting used to it" like some rather insensitive and soulless people have said to me.
So, in mid-December (our probable date), we will take our son to the hospital and he'll have open heart surgery again -- his fourth in 12 years.
We will trust the surgeons with his life, literally, in their hands. We will trust the nurses who care for him. Because what else can we do in such a powerless and helpless situation? And that's where some of the fear comes from -- the inability to protect your child. It makes my skin crawl.
The news also brings back every vivid memory; it comes right to the surface and seems fresh again. Like little photos and videos on my brain:
The sending him off with the doctors and having to trust them. The deafening silence as we wait and wait to hear he's made it out of surgery. The running as fast as I possibly can to get to him. I need to see him with my own eyes to know he's breathing,
And then you stop.
Because you ran into a room where your son is intubated and connected to a dozen or so tubes, wires and machines. And the air suddenly leaves the room. Because even though you remembered this, you've somehow also forgotten how shocking it really is. That it is your child laying there. The one you'd take a bullet for; jump in front of a bus for; have open heart surgery for. The one you'd die for.
Yet, he's stuck with this burden. He doesn't deserve it. He shouldn't have to deal with it because "he can handle it."
And he's asleep because his small body needs medication to cope with the pain. You just want to talk to him. To hear his voice. To hug and hold him. To let him know you're there and will protect him.
But can you, really? This is the plight of a parent like me. At the end of the day, the most you can do is find the best doctors for him, but even still, it never feels like it's enough.
And I want to scream. I have screamed. And I've cried. And then I've been happy because he'll never see this side of me. The vulnerable mom who so very desperately wants to magically wish it away.
People have asked me how I stay strong for him and keep it together. And the truth of the matter is, I'm nothing special other than a mom trying her best to protect her son. That means never showing him the worry or fear in my eyes. It's not even a thought. It's just what you do.
Moms know who they have to be and when. Soon enough, there will be a hospital room for my son. It will be 1 AM and I'll be awake. And then I'll be able to cry.
About Josh's Mom
By day, Stephanie is in marketing; by night and all other times in between, she's a mom and wife, and highly passionate voice for CHD fundraising and research.