This time last year, I was literally living through the hardest day of my life – Emerson’s open-heart surgery. It was an emotional roller-coaster of a day, to put it mildly. In fact, even just re-reading last years’ blog post from that day physically hurt my heart and made me sob all over again. That experience was gut-wrenching in the worst possible way, and something that still blows my mind sometimes:
my daughter had open-heart surgery when she was just three years old.
It’s not something that’s easy to grasp, even having lived through it. And somehow, it’s still not easy to grasp even after re-living it, through reading my old blog post, and looking back now that it’s been one full year since the surgery.
The good news though, is that we can now rejoice in the successful surgery and the healing of her heart!!! She may always have a “zipper scar” down the center of her tiny chest (it’s barely even noticeable in these photos, but certainly there in real life), and she may always have a cardiologist monitoring her heart through EKG’s and echocardiograms for the rest of her life. But she no longer has two holes in her heart, and she no longer has a dysfunctional valve, and the left side of her heart is no longer enlarged.
Most of you know Emerson, or at least feel like you know her through my writing. You love her “in real life” or you love her through these posts. And for that, I’m grateful. I constantly tell her, “Everyone who knows you loves you,” and I really think that’s true. (She even parrots that back to me sometimes saying things like, “All the people love me!”) She is free-spirited and energetic and silly, but she is also sensitive and tender-hearted and compassionate. She is a worrier, and she cares about her friends and family. She is the absolute light of my life (her, and her baby sister now), and I am eternally grateful that the Lord brought us through that journey last year.
And although I write with a lot of “my, me, mine, I” pronouns (because it is my journal after all), I want to make sure I don’t leave out my amazing husband in all of this. Jeff was such a solid rock to our little family as we went through all of this. He allowed me to be the one breaking down and falling apart, hiding his own fears and nightmares, so that he could be strong for me and Emerson. He offered to shoulder the burden some days in an effort to lighten my load. And as cliché as it sounds, it would have been impossible to do it without him.
We also have an amazing family who loved and supported us through that as well. Both sets of our parents travelled to Jacksonville for the surgery, knowing ahead of time they wouldn’t even be allowed into the hospital due to covid rules, but just to be near Jeff and I during that very difficult day. The rest of our friends and family sent endless texts and emails and made phone calls to check up on us and see how things were going.
So many people sent presents with us to give to Emmie while we were in Jax. Folks were generous with their money, donating cash and gift cards for us to buy meals and gas while we were away from home for 10 days. We were also given a donation from the “Corrections Foundation” at my workplace, which helps employees in traumatic situations. One family member helped with our bill at the Ronald McDonald House. Through all the generosity, we actually had more than we needed for that time, and we opened a savings account in Emerson’s name with everything we still had leftover, to give to her when she grows up.
We also knew of 30+ different churches around the country that had added Emerson to their church prayer list, which meant thousands of friends, acquaintances and strangers alike were all praying for my little girl, for Jeff and I, for the doctors, surgeons and nurses. And that was just astounding and humbling to me.
It’s all just so incredible to think back on now, on the one-year anniversary of her successful open-heart surgery. As I’ve said, it still blows my mind. Sometimes, I barely even think about it in our regular, day-to-day lives. But other times, it can still hit me like a ton of bricks and I can’t help but be anything but thankful that we made it through, that SHE was healed and that she’s made such a miraculous recovery.