The Day I Knew She Wasn’t Normal

You would think that I’ve always known. But it wasn’t until just exactly yesterday that I finally realized Annie isn’t normal.

You would think that this day: when she left my side as a 2-hour-old neonate to travel across town without me while I lay confined to a delivery room bed recovering from her birth would have informed me.

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Or this day: when I prayed she’d take another breath and the swarm of nurses could subside.

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Or this day: when they told us our 10-week-old would die from the common cold.

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Or this day: when I consoled my 3-month-old hours after her second open heart surgery, patch still covering a tautly-stitched chest. IMG_2916

Or even this day: when Annie smiled proudly, recognized as the cutest little survivor of heart disease.

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But it wasn’t until just exactly yesterday that I finally realized Annie isn’t normal.

Her cardiologist cleared her for Tumbling Twos. “Go for it,” he said. “But educate her teacher that she may–or may not–get more tired than others. Let her rest–but don’t make her.She might turn blue. It’s okay. Let her rest and return when she is ready.”

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Her gymnastics coach set up the obstacle course yesterday. She lined up 1 mini tramp, 2 mini tramps, 3 mini tramps, 4 mini tramps, 5 mini tramps, that ended with a super stretch and forward roll.

Annie bunny hopped bravely, giggling the whole way…1 mini tramp, 2 mini tramps, 3 mini tramps, 4 mini tramps, 5 mini tramps.

Stretching. Rolling. Smiling. Beaming.

Panting. Purpling. Huffing. Puffing.

Coughing. Smiling. Jumping. Giggling.

Gasping.

She ran to me for a gulp of water and whispered, “Momma, I can’t keep up.” But once her sip was swallowed, she ran back to her place in line. And again…1 mini tramp, 2 mini tramps, 3 mini tramps, 4 mini tramps, 5 mini tramps.

Stretching. Rolling. Smiling. Beaming.

Panting. Purpling. Huffing. Puffing.

Coughing. Smiling. Jumping. Giggling.

Gasping.

For 45 minutes, it went on. A purple-lipped Annie heaving for air. But she wouldn’t quit her routine.

From the side seats, I struggled to remind myself of the last comment of her doctor’s approval note, “She won’t hurt herself with overexercising.” I struggled to remember why I thought I should enroll my heart failure child in gymnastics.

I expected that I’d be embarrassed the day I realized her physical limitations. I expected I’d be sad the day I saw her struggle to keep up with kids her age. I expected to be angry that it was my child who was different.

I was wrong.

It was the proudest I’ve ever been to be Annie’s mom. I was thankful that half-hearted girl disguised as a normal kid bunny hopped and rolled. I was thrilled that she never gave up. I was in awe of her courage to fight fiercely to finish her set. I was inspired by a little girl who huffed and puffed but kicked and smiled through every short breath.

And so, just exactly yesterday I realized that Annie isn’t normal. Not even close. Her determination, her will, her fight, her spirit, her tenacity, her heart are not like any other child’s I have ever seen.

Instead of embarrassed, I am beyond proud of my little girl who continues to show us that there’s something better than normal.

 

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Something You’re not Supposed To Get

There’s a house that feels like heaven that’s half empty since Saturday night.

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It’s still aglow with sunset warmth and red dirt wander. But it’s missing my Papa who roosted in the lounge chair tucked in a corner of his deer head covered room. Firearms and pocket knives might’ve scared off wary intruders, but tins full of holiday popcorn and tales of lakeside adventure lured in curious little girls.

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“Sit in here, Tracer, and tell me how you’ve been.” The invitation started before I was old enough to remember. Sometimes we’d sit in opposite reclining chairs. Sometimes I’d bounce up in his lap.

Sometimes he’d take me out back to pull start a three-wheeler for my riding pleasure. Sometimes he’d walk the long road to rescue a stalled three-wheeler on the other side of the railroad tracks.

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Sometimes he’d show me how to pump water from a deep ground windmill well. Sometimes he’d let me beat him in a game of driveway basketball. Sometimes he’d watch me ride the front yard poultry. Sometime he’d crank up the kitchen jukebox to get the girls dancing. Sometimes he’d tie the tree swing up tight and give me a push to send me flying high over the propane tank.

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But he’d always tell a story…

-He knew how to decipher who could speak English by naming the color of their shoes.

-He knew how to hunt and knew how to shoot.

-He knew how he liked his coffee and exactly when he wanted it.

-He knew how to sport overalls.

-He knew how to pick a woman who’d serve him well for life.

-He knew how to make a two-year-old giggle by pointing a wrinkled finger into bright eyes to announce, “You’re full of beans!”

-Mostly he knew how to love four girls who weren’t “his,” and the grandchildren they gave him.

Sometimes in life you get something you weren’t supposed to get. And you ask God why. Like a baby with half of her heart missing.

But sometimes in life you get something you weren’t supposed to get. And instead of asking God why, you just tell Him thank you. Like a Papa who you didn’t share DNA with but who loved you like you did.

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http://www.wilsoncares.com/obituaries/Harmon-Eoff/#