My toddler son bounced happily inside the red Radio Flyer as we trekked to the next house, one hand clutching his candy sack, the other steadying himself on the side of the wagon. I gripped the handle of the wagon as I pulled him, the wheels hiccuping on the seams of the sidewalk. My other hand supported my bulging belly, half for my physical comfort and half out of worry for my baby’s tiny heart. As my fingers rubbed the pleats of the chiffon skirt that completed my Mary Poppins costume, I couldn’t help but think about the diagnosis from the cardiologist, it floated constantly in the back of my mind. I slowed the wagon to a stop, and scooped up my little costumed penguin.
A friendly face greeted us.
“Trick or treat” my son sing-songed, the way we had rehearsed.
“Here you go” she said, tossing a sugary treat into his bag.
“Thank you” replied my son, again, just as we’d practiced.
Our neighbor glanced at my tummy then up to my face, “When are you due?”
“December” I answered, grinning from ear to ear.
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“Ah, then you’ll have one of each, so perfect.”
“We’re excited, but we didn’t really care whether it was a boy or a girl. As long as it’s healthy.” The words singed my tongue as they escaped. That’s not what I meant. I knew she wasn’t healthy, doctors had already confirmed her heart was sick. My heart sank. I wished I could take back my words. I merely repeated a phrase I had heard many times before.
“As long as she’s healthy” – nonsense! I want her whether or not she’s healthy. As a mom, I wished and prayed that her heart would be whole and healthy, but that is not the case. And still, I want her with every piece of my soul.
We’re now approaching our second Halloween with little Daisy. The beginning of her life wasn’t easy – it was littered with hospitalizations, surgeries, pokes, tests, and doctor visits. Through miracles of faith and modern medicine, she is healthier now than when she was born. Still, she isn’t cured; she faces many challenges each day. But she lives every moment with bravery and joy. And healthy or not, I’m delighted she’s part of our family.