I keep asking Letha if she is scared, worried, nervous, afraid. And any other adjectives that might fit the situation of a 12 year old girl facing a hole in her heart and a heart cath. Despite being ecstatic over the wonder of not having to deal with Asthma anymore, this situation is very BIG and SERIOUS for her. After all, she doesn't remember the last time she was hospitalized (at birth for a bowel obstruction).
I remember the terror I felt at handing my 51 hour old baby over to a nurse to be taken to surgery. I remember watching the painful recovery. I remember the tears I cried, the prayers I begged God to answer, the days and weeks of recovery that seemed to pass at eternity's pace. I remember the pain medication that stopped her heart, and the antidote that counteracted it. I remember the day we were finally allowed to take our first precious miracle home. It was a Sunday and we went straight to church. We walked in at prayer time and I walked straight down to the altar and laid my baby there and gave her to God. Something I had done with her picture just a week earlier as I struggled with releasing control of my life and my baby to God's plan. She was the first, but not the last. We have handed over two of our other babies a total of SIX more times for surgeries for various childhood ailments.
She has no memory of any of it.
I expected her to have fear. And yet, she tells me she's OK. I can see that she is holding it back to please me. Oh, little peanut, tell me your fears that I may walk with you through them.
Tonight she packed her backpack to sleep over at her friend's house, and sticking out the top of the bag was the head and arms of a little, pink, hand-crocheted-by-Grandma, teddy bear named "Lucky Bear". Then I knew for sure.
You see, Lucky Bear has been around since the day she was born. She was a gift from Grandma on Letha's birthday. She's named Lucky Bear because that Friday the 13th was the luckiest day of our lives. Lucky Bear was placed in Letha's crib after that first surgery, and she kept watch over our little peanut all the hours that we couldn't be with her ourselves. She is in nearly every picture of Letha during those 23 days, the symbol of a guardian angel.
"Why are you taking Lucky Bear?"
"Because I love her."
"Is it because she was with you after your first surgery?"
"Are you afraid?"
"Are you planning to take Lucky Bear with you to the hospital?"
Finally we were able to talk about her fears. She wanted to know that we were going to be there with her. She wanted to know that we would be near. She wanted to know that we would never leave her. She was so willing to face it with a smile for our sake and because we are so excited for the outcome, but so afraid that she would be alone on the journey. She was so afraid that we would let her go into the unknown all by herself.
Oh Heavenly Father. My eyes are open. How often I face my journey with so much courage that I don't bring my fears to You? How many times have I put on my brave facade while I am trembling inside? How often have I tried to hide my fear from You because I want to please You? And there You are, KNOWING that I am afraid, waiting for me to tell You my fears so that You can tell me that you will NEVER leave me. You will never forsake me. You will walk the road with me and help me as I face the BIGGEST obstacles in my life. Even on this road, Lord, I have feared that you would take my daughter from me, that I would have to give her back to you on more than the altar of my heart. Yet You are here, with me now, fulfilling Your promise to never leave me. Amen.
The hospital where her heart cath will take place, we have been there before for 3 surgeries. I happen to know that they encourage one of the parents to go with their child to the OR and wait until the child falls asleep. They keep close contact with the parents in the waiting room through the procedure. And the parents both join the child in the recovery room as soon as possible. I was finally able to tell Letha that we would be WITH her all the way. She will not be alone. It's OK to be afraid. It's OK to talk to me about it. I will love you, hold you and tell you that I will be with you.
My dear, sweet Letha. You are more like your Mommie than you know.