When you lose a child, no matter how old they are when they pass, the pain never truly goes away. Once they have made an imprint on your heart, it is there for eternity.
20 years ago today my husband and I were blessed with our second daughter and we named her Laura Helen. Hours after her birth our world was torn apart by devastating news. Laura was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were given three options. 1.) Do nothing and let her go, 2.) heart transplant, 3.) a series of operations over the course of two to three years that would essentially reroute her circulatory system. We chose option 3, we had to giver her a chance.
The following morning, Laura was airlifted to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. While there we learned of two other babies, a boy and a girl, born with the same condition. They were all slated for open heart surgery within a few days of birth.
At 4 days old, Laura and the other two babies had the first of three procedures. The first baby, the little boy, went first as he was the sickest. Unfortunately, he did not make it through his surgery. We were all devastated and prayed that the outcome would be different for our little girls. Our prayers were answered and both Laura and the other little girl survived. Two weeks later we went home with our little bundle.
Just before Christmas, Laura returned to the hospital. Due to the surgery she had a build up of scar tissue around her aorta. She made it through the angioplasty but because her tiny heart had worked so hard to supply blood to her body, it couldn’t recover from the stress and Laura died two days later. Our hearts were shattered, but my husband and I helped each other through the loss and the pain.
We think of her often, missing what could have been. We know she is really never far away and I know she is surrounded by love.
Over the years I have found myself wondering from time to time about the other little girl and how she was doing – if she survived. We’d lost contact with her parents after Laura passed but it was probably a good thing. They needed to concentrate on their daughter and have hope that she would survive.
Several months ago I happened to see a tweet on Twitter that caught my attention. It led me to investigate and yes, I admit, I “creeped” Facebook. I’d found her. She’d survived, graduated high school, was driving, and living life. Tears filled my eyes. I was happy and relieved to see she was thriving and humanly – just a little sad.
Happy 20th birthday, Laura. I am truly grateful that you were a part of our lives, even if it was just a moment in time. You are never far from our thoughts and always in our hearts.
Happy 20th birthday, CS. I wish you a wonderful life filled with love, happiness and success.