“It hurts, Momma. My line hurts!” she whined, dragging her finger up and down, up and down the stretch of her 6-inch scar.
“On the inside, Momma!” She grabbed at her chest; I panicked and prayed.
It was just another normal occurrence for our family (most families, I assume): Life hinging on an announcement from a 2-year-old buckled into the backseat.
But that announcement, that moment was the one we’d been waiting for.
In January, when we were told that Annie’s heart was severely failing again, we were also told it was only a matter of time. That was confirmed in March: The heart failure was certain. The matter of time, still to be determined. That was the scary part.
So every day we packed and waited.
Swim-lessoned and waited.
Laughed and waited.
Prayed and waited.
Ice creamed and waited.
Played and waited.
Tried to act normal and waited…For Annie to get sick. For matter of time to run out. For everything to change.
The first week of August, Annie started changing. She wasn’t interested in food anymore. She needed her milk and blankie and momma rock all day. She was tired too often and too early. She yawned into a deep 9:30am nap after waking up at 8. Her lips purpled from a walk across the kitchen.
Matter of time was running out.
After exhausting all denial and excuses, we contacted her cardiologist to have Annie evaluated last week. We were prepared for it all to unfold: sick, decline, oxygen, medicine, hospitalization, transplant waiting list. While we continued to desperately plead for Annie’s healing, we had accepted the fate of what the echo cardiogram would reveal.
Our brave girl climbed up on the echo table all by herself for the first time! She lay still and quiet, gently rubbing the technician’s fingers to help guide the doppler up and down, up and down her line.
The pictures on the screen showed a heart being strong and slow and steady. Surely, as parents, we are such novice echo readers that we were missing something. We waited grimly back in the room for the doctor’s report on the reading.
He greeted us with care and listened to my concerns. Then happily reported, “Annie’s heart function has improved greatly since the spring. At this time her echo shows only mildly diminished heart function. I see no trace of severe failure from today’s evaluation.”
How could that be? What about the rocking, the snuggling, the sleeping, the milk, the blankie, the leg pain, the chest pain, the WORRY? How could those mean nothing?
He reminded us that we’ve all been praying for healing, for recovered function, for a little bit of good news…since January. Why wouldn’t we expect it?
While I felt relieved, I was still guarded. Our journey with Annie is up and down, up and down, up and down with wounds and memories and grief tugging at the pain behind the line in our hearts.
The next morning,though, Annie woke refreshed. Energetic. Pink. Warm. Hungry. Forgot about her blanket. Played puzzles and Duck, Duck, Goose. She was Annie again.
I want to celebrate. I want to shout that she’s improved. I want to believe it’s all true! But I want to live in reality with Annie, too. So for now I’m choosing to thank God for the good news of today and celebrate more normal days that I’m getting with my little girl.
I’m going to rest in His promises today. Praise Him for her heart today…even though I don’t know what He will do tomorrow or what her heart will look like on the next echo cardiogram or what surgery may be looming in the months ahead.
But just because I don’t know what He’ll do tomorrow, I know who He is. I know He’ll be near. I know He’s already there preparing and planning something that will make Him known.
And that is all I’ve really ever prayed for my sweet Annie. Would you continue celebrating and praying that with me? And pray that God will grant us wisdom to enjoy the up and down, up and down of life with the sweetest critically ill child?