Yesterday was Bella’s one year heart day. Thinking back over it was overwhelming, but today I was reminded how grateful I should be.
I was outside working on my yard – which hasn’t had any attention since Bella came home – too long. A lady stopped in front of my house and popped out of her car. She walked over to where Joy and I were sitting putting down mulch. She works at the girl’s Elementary School. She helps with the car pool and the lunch room. She had seen Joy in the car before and had asked her name this morning. She walked right up to her and reached out her hands, “Does she have…” and she paused. Now as a Mom of kids with special needs, I have learned to sense the difference between people and how they asked that question. There was no danger here, nothing of ridicule, or inappropriate curiosity – there was almost a longing. “Down syndrome." I completed her sentence. “Yes, she does.” She replied, “I thought so. I had one.” I noticed the past tense. Her name had been April. She was almost 4 years old when she had her heart repaired. She told me she was a huge Daddy’s girl. She told me how much she loved that little girl. She told me how her fingers were blue on the tips. She told me how nervous she was all during that surgery. She told me they couldn’t get her off the heart/lung bypass machine. She lived seven hours after her surgery. 7 hours.
Then I did something I never do, I took her in to meet Bella. I showed her the ventilator. We talked about how things are different now – 29 years later. March 16th was her surgery and the day she died. I hope seeing my girls was a blessing to her. 29 years – wow. A mother never forgets.