On this particular morning, we walked past the giraffes to see our favorite lazy lions…and they weren’t there. The exhibit was closed and we were presented with a sign that let us know that Cookie, the female lion, had passed away from cancerous condition, and that she had heart surgery for a serious condition 4 years prior. My 2nd grader, feeling superior and powerful in her reading skills, was insistent that she read it out loud to her two younger siblings, so she did.
As we walked away from the empty space, my daughter asked me what a “serious condition” was. I explained to her that Cookie had a heart that needed surgery because it wasn’t working normally.
“Like me?” She asked.
“Yes, like you.” I answered her thoughtfully.
My daughter, my 2nd grader, was born with a heart defect known as CoArctation of the Aorta. She had heart surgery at 8 days old in Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and we are very open with her about it. She knows as much as a 7 year old girl can know about heart problems. She’s absolutely fine, she has a cardiologist we see on a regular basis and her outlook is amazing.
My daughter walked a little further down the path before she asked me another question.
“Mom. Am I going to die early?”
I quickly responded. “Oh honey, I sure hope not. But we really must take advantage of each and every day because you never know when God will call any of us home.”
That was my response.
I thought about that question the remainder of the day.
Actually, I think about her dying early, more often than I like to admit. I don’t obsess over it, but when I hear stories of teenagers suddenly dropping on the football field, I think of the possibility of losing my child early to a heart condition.
The horrific events of this week have me thinking about any parents worst nightmare…the loss of a child. This nightmare is a real living dream for too many families in Connecticut.
I cannot compare, in any way, my fears of my child’s heart stopping to the real life horror that stripped so many parents of their little ones this week. I wont even get into whether or not I think guns are the problem and where my opinions lie on that. I cant even begin to wonder how many individuals are struggling with mental health and have no help.
I just read this article…and all the comments that go with it.
I know I am not the only mother out there who wants to bring her children close to her chest and keep them there forever.
I truly am heartbroken.