In just 24 days, Josh will undergo his fourth open heart surgery operation. I thought I was prepared. After all, we've been waiting for this to happen for two years. How could I not be ready? "You expected this, right?" As someone said to me earlier today.
Sure, I expected it. But you also expect your parents to pass away some day, right? But it's still difficult to deal with, right? It still hurts, right? Right?!?!?
Does it sound like I'm shouting? If it does, it's because I am. I've been sulking since yesterday. But as this Tuesday has crawled by, my sadness has morphed into anger. I appreciate every kind word, please know that. But if you are going to tell me "he can handle it" or "everyone goes through something," I will tell you to f*** off. Just f*** off.
No disrespect. None. Not as you sit there with perfectly healthy children. Do I sound resentful? Probably - because in this moment I am. It's not personal; it's jealousy.
I HATE that you think he can handle it. Why should HE have to? Why does this have to be his "journey?" This is not a choice. He didn't decide to take this path. This is not the left or right. Red or blue. This is life and death. We did not make this CHOICE. There is NO CHOICE.
Yet, I still want to pack him up in my car and run away. Drive away. Fly away. I want to wish this away. I want to take his place so he never has to go through this again.
I want to scream. I want to break glass. I want to kick down doors. I want to crawl out of my own skin.
But instead, I will prepare: Contact his school - check. Request all of the necessary surgical records - check. Make lists - already started.
Despite my anger, I can still see very clearly. I know what's most important - my son and the way I handle this in front of him. So, as I've always done, I'll smile and laugh and nag him to brush his teeth. I'll harp on making sure he's studied enough for his math test. And we'll shuffle around town from baseball practice to games to lessons and back again.
Because THAT is his journey - being a 12-year-old boy. Going to middle school. Hanging out with his friends.
His heart history DOES NOT define him. It's not his legacy. He is smart, articulate, loving and loyal. He is the best son you could ever wish for. THAT is who he is.
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.