So here's the deal. Today and this week and everyday between May 18 and May 22 is both a sad and joyous occasion for us.
Sad because this is the one-year Angelversary of our son, Dastan. Joyous because this is also little Aubrie's one-year Heart Birthday. Let me share their story.
Reader beware. I will not indulge you with brevity here. So grab a cup of coffee, spike it with some Jack and settle in. Here we go.
I show him here at our wedding on March 17, 2012. Yes, that is St. P's Day. We dressed him as a leprechaun and gave him a bucket of coins to protect, which he did. Ferociously.
He was one of those kids who skipped the crawling phase and went straight to walking at nine months, so soon we almost had to put a helmet on him because we have tile floors and his head-hole wasn't quite closed.
His temperament was one of hot-Irish charm. The birthmark between his eyes flared red as his hair when he didn't get his way, and by God you heard him when he found a mood.
His first word was not Daddy or Mommy or Sissy or Bubba. It was Daisy. That's the dog's name. His second word was Ball, the dog's favorite toy. Third was Outside, where you throw the ball for the dog. So you see the boy's priorities. His last memory before he got beamed up was running at the park by the lake and falling into his mother's arms and closing his eyes. Safe to say that boy burned hot and died doing what he loved in the arms of the one who loved him most, the woman I love the most who stole my heart as much as Aubrie stole Daz's.
And now comes Aubrie. Much of her story is second-hand, so please forgive me if I misrepresent or over-dramatize some details. We met her in March of this year for her one-year birthday. Here is a picture of the meeting. Aubrie is the beautiful one.
Do you see how she erases the sorrow? She is a sugar-coated candy drop of pure and irresistible happiness that rots my teeth and softens my heart with the kissing of her. She is concentrated joy, one drop'll do-ya.
You will notice we all are wearing green. That is for Dastan. That is for organ donation. If you want to be a Super Hero like Daz, sign up now. Seats are filling fast.
We listened to Aubrie's heart, Daz's heart, Aubrie's heart, Daz's heart, and maybe they share beats, A-D-A-D, like that. I don't know how it works, but I feel both of them thumping around in there. We all feel it. Our families merged as much as any marriage ever has, and we share one's joy and the other's grief and none of us are alone.
Aubrie had a congenital heart defect. That damned heart was too big for a newborn, and they were lucky to find an energetic eighteen-month-old's heart that fit so perfectly into a two-month-old baby girl. I say Lucky, don't I. That's a bad way to put it. I don't believe in that kind of luck. They were given a heart molded one for the other as much as we are given air with every breath and don't count it lucky that there is just the right amount of oxygen to keep us sucking onward to the next breath.
We are given. We receive. Be thankful, because these things are not lucky.
She was and remains otherwise a healthy, normal baby who displays advanced mental skills and a lady's temperament, at least when there is company. I hear she has her moments, but I suppose all women have their moments. She is a friendly, loving, outgoing little girl who loves to play, loves to blow kisses, and loves loves loves to be held.
From the time of her emergency c-section -- they did not want her breathing on her own, straight to the incubator, so her first breath was one of plasticized and decompressed oxygen -- she was in intensive care, where she remained for about six months, until well after the transplant, out summer of 2012, and then spent May of 2013 in the hospital owing to a secondary infection brought on by treatment for an ear infection.
See, they suppress her immune system so it doesn't reject her heart. That's a lot of trouble for a 14lb little girl. She has been poked, prodded, stuck, incubated, intubated, excavated, and inebriated. I do believe she has been on every machine in the hospital, and at this writing she has a feeding tube in her nostril and a catheter in her right arm going directly to her heart, A-D-A-D. Even so she is happy and well and well-stuck.
Let me say something about that little girl: she is so tiny she fills the room.
Our eyes are materialistic despots that dupe us into believing that tiny shiny baby-girl with her stick-legs and big blue eyes is somehow a fragile creature. We believe she is fragile because, well, I mean, look at her. She's not but a dozen pounds.
And yet you feel walloped when you meet her. She possesses an enormous spirit, something unimaginably strong that allows her to live each day so much more carefully than you and I live ours. Hers is not the luxury of health-for-granted. She was not cuddled out of the womb. She fights to live and lives to fight. She bears a scar on her chest and pin-prick scabs on her feet and hands from the IVs, and yet, well, look at her.
This is her blowing kisses. She has a tube in her nose, for gadsake, and scabs on her cheeks from the tape, and chafes beneath her arm from the catheter. Remember that next time you wince. That little girl just had a transfusion, you freaking ~wimp~!
Now tell me if you see anything fragile about that little girl when you really, really look.
Me, I see Aubs the Warrior Champ. I see The Almighty Aubrie, Aubzilla the Fearless, Aubie Aubie All-Star. She will run headlong into the future blowing kisses between uppercuts and jabs and the ducking of her head. She will fall and rise and fight and swing. She will never tire, nor falter, nor wane, nor complain. She will never take tomorrow for granted, nor live today to anything less than a full burn. I know this because I know her heart, and she will never be alone.
Happy Heart-Day, Aubrie. Happy Angelversary, Daz. We love you both who are heroes and giants in our hearts.
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Out of the Great Black Nothing and Wink from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work here: Publications, or order directly from Amazon, or wherever books are sold.
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