December 2, 2016

It’s that time again…Zoe’s Heartiversary. Today marks 8 years with her new heart which makes me wonder, after 8 years, can we still call the heart “new”? I can’t think of anything that’s still considered new after 8 years. Her “old”(?) original(?) heart didn’t last this long. At this point, is it safe to just refer to this heart as Zoe’s? Without the anti-rejection drugs her body would surely reject this heart so is it really hers? Will we ever be able to stop considering this just a “borrowed” organ? Most likely not, but I guess that’s just the nature of this beast.

I’m not going to lie and say that Zoe’s condition, the transplant itself, is on my mind every day. There are a lot of days where I forget, just for a little while that my daughter is a statistic. That we have the death of a stranger, another child, to thank for her very existence. Isn’t that the point of all this though? To forget that she is/was sick? To forget that she isn’t just like every other 14 year old girl? Maybe forget is the wrong word. It’s always there, playing tug-of-war with every day life for that coveted, front of the brain/first thing I think about spot. When she’s tired and sore from basketball and dance, I can put the transplant in the back of my brain and tell her to suck it up buttercup, but when all she can take for those aches and pains is Tylenol…..BOOM….right back to the front it goes. When I refuse to enter her bedroom to find her basketball socks because her bedroom is death trap, it floats to the back again. When I have no choice but to brave the mess to wake up the teen who has fallen asleep, phone in hand, to make sure she takes her medicine before bed…’s snapped back to the front. When I’m laying in the sun, next to a pool in the Bahamas, listening to her tell me about the water slides or the cute boy who was looking at her… the back it goes. Then I remember WHY and HOW we ended up laying by that pool in the Bahamas… it comes, front and center again. So yeah, maybe forget is the wrong word.

I have to confess that I don’t think about Zoe’s donor or his family every day either. Am I supposed to? Like prayers, is there supposed to be silent thanks given before bed each night? Am I ungrateful because this is NOT true for me? Zoe’s donor and his family are literally the farthest thing from my mind when I’m cursing the alarm in the morning or trying to get Zoe out the door on time for school. They aren’t even remotely present in my brain when I’m watching my teen turn into this hormonal monster that neither of us recognize and I’m fighting the urge to remove her eyeballs from her head so that she can’t roll them at me. I’m also not thinking of them when I’m trying to figure out how to stretch 30 hours of to-dos into just 24 and still have time to sleep.

Don’t misunderstand me. I AM grateful and I do think of this unknown family often. When I’m sitting at her basketball games or her dance recitals, I’m thinking of them. When I stand back and watch her laugh with her friends, I’m thinking of them. When I have to sneak into her bedroom and take her phone and turn off her lights because she’s fallen asleep (medicine taken), I’m thinking of them. When I have a second to breathe and am able to just sit back and watch her grow up, I’m thinking of them and I am grateful.

I never really know what I’m going to say when I sit down to write these heartiversary posts. Today’s turned out a little different than the other 7. Any transplant mom who tells you that they think of the donor family every day or that they are grateful every single day are most likely lying. To you, to themselves. Life happens and we get caught up and swept away by it. There’s no shame in it. Again, that was always the point to all of this; to be “normal” and as much like everyone else as possible. She isn’t. We aren’t, but in those moments when we forget that we aren’t….that’s living the dream.