I have so many thoughts at night. Violet Violet and her heart with a hole that no longer has a hole—thank God—and the doctor saying to Simon when he leans in for a question, “Are you medical?”
Normally it’s just scared parents who sit there mum. Just let us go and tell us it won’t ever be that scary ever again. The way we paced the halls in our socks and imagined a tryst with the surgeon just for diversion—in his little bland medical office. The mind stretches.
There’s a mother here with her 6-month-old. I recognize the age. That’s when they call you in. I was her and Violet was them. This mother is trying to be brave. I catch her eye but it’s quick. She’s seeing me but not quite seeing me and not quite wanting to see me. Because if she sees me then she’s really there. I represent someone who has made it through. But we would all like forever and forever to not be in this place. I can feel the walls she has erected to get through this moment and the next moment. She is jealous and hopeful and scared for her life.
That’s what we say in our house: “I was scared for my life!” Violet says it about some innocuous thing…she said it tonight, in fact, and laughed a belly laugh. I think of how I was actually scared for my life 8 years ago and sometimes still am when she has a pea sized rash on her arm or an ache in her neck. My body remembers the fear.
Today when I’m eating salmon with my dad and my sister, I tell them how the doctor did a procedure “just the other day on someone with Violet’s exact condition” and how they can now change valves via catheter if the conditions are right. As I report this good news, I burst into tears. Not in the privacy of a bathroom stall but on top of some extra large shrimps. I feel embarrassed for my grief that is long. Long fear, long grief. Long covid.
I renew my conviction to talk to Jimmy Kimmel’s wife. “Would you like to come on my podcast?” They also had a child with Tetralogy of Fallot. Maybe she knows about that blood that flows back and forth, crossing a forbidden line? A little bit, a little bit, causing one half of the heart to slowly enlarge. That’s what we’re measuring. Maybe she’s listened more carefully and can talk precisely about the nature of this illegal crossing using technical words. Are you medical?
Or maybe she’s like me and glazes over, the stray fear that she’ll never catch doing a beeline when the topic of hearts come up. I’m curious about Molly’s fear and if it’s the same as mine. Could we put our fear on opposites sides of a scale? And if we could, would it teach me something about myself? Molly, do you know if I’ll always be a mother avoiding someone’s eye?
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Beautiful and moving! Thanks for sharing it with us.