Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Survivor's Guilt

A few months ago, I met a lovely lady who came to visit my dad in the hospital. A couple months later, I found myself reaching out to her after her son had been diagnosed with Transposition of the Greater Arteries. The same heart defect Sadie has. I tried to think of comforting things to say. Tried to encourage her and avoid mentioning the horrors of surgery. Tried to assure her that the surgery was usually successful (it is).

Tonight, as I watched Sadie sachéing across the floor in her first-ever ballet class, I found myself perplexed by the tears that were in my eyes. When I stopped to think about the emotion inside, it was easy to pinpoint its source. Four years ago I would have never fathomed that she would be the happy, healthy, hilarious little girl she has become. I wouldn't dare dream of it. Four years ago I sat in the hospital and was told she was the sickest TGA baby they had ever seen, that her kidneys may be failing, that it was so, so serious. But Sadie survived. Not only surivived, but thrived. And here she was, tonight, the cutest ballerina in the class in her bright orange tutu. And graceful to boot. How could I keep those happy/sad tears at bay on such a momentous occassion?

And then I looked down and saw the text message. Baby Zachary had passed. Only 10 days old. The same heart defect as Sadie. Our same town. At the very same moment I felt tragically sad, unbelievably grateful and incredibly guilty that my child survived yet another did not. It's hard to put words around. I looked back up at Sadie, beaming at me as she learned to plié, and smiled through the no-longer held in tears. I'm sure the instructor thinks I am insane.

I don't know what to do with myself tonight. So, I'm going to go snuggle and give thanks for my beautiful soccer-playing violinist and the prettiest little ballerina ever.  It's the only thing I can think of to do right now. Snuggle and breathe in every moment with them.

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