Some of my posts lately have been on the sadder side. It's not deliberate, it's just honest. So, as we approach the most "magical" time of year -- when kids are most wide-eyed and hope is at its peak -- I want to inspire.
We talk about everything Josh and others like him have been through. And it's challenging. And it's sad. And it's terifying. But here's what I will tell you. While I would NEVER wish this on anyone, I can say that it's shown me the type of strength that exists in the human spirit.
Josh is, by far, the strongest person I know. And here's the biggest secret: he doesn't even know it. Not yet, anyway.
He is our hero and inspiration. He's the one I look to when I'm down because I know that he's never given up. I've seen it with my own eyes. His strength is quiet and unpronounced, yet the fight is there.
I've watched a child who was merely hours old fight for air and every breath. He literally fought for his life and won. When doctors questioned how long we'd be in the hospital, saying two or three weeks, he decided he had enough and we went home in nine DAYS.
I watched an 8-month-old fight again -- for his life and his family. His doctors said seven to 10 days. We left in four. Four days after open heart surgery. I couldn't do that. Could you?
And at 4 years old, I handed my child off to surgeons again. They said, he'll be here for seven to nine days, easy. We were discharged in three days. And a month after that, Josh started ice skating and hockey lessons.
I have learned from Josh that there is no "no." There's always a way.
Sure, he's messy. And sometimes talks too much in school, fights with his sister and doesn't take out the trash. But he's also fought more in his 10 years than a lot of us will fight in our entire lifetimes. He and others like him will continue to push forward. There is no choice. It's part of who he is. It's not even a question. That, right there, is so very powerful.
And so the fight continues. Today, our 10-year-old is strong-willed and smart, and has the power to literally do anything he wants in life. He is proof that a powerful mind and determination can get you through almost anything.
We continue to teach him to work for what he wants. Life will not be handed to you, we tell him. We utter these words a lot. Yet sometimes I think subconsciously, he knows this more than we know.
His surgical history does not define who he is, but his will, strength and character do. Based on what we've seen so far from a child who doesn't even realize what he's pushed back against, you will not find a prouder mother than me.
Happy holidays to you and yours.
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.