I have never been one of the popular ones. In high school, I was too chunky for cheerleading, too "goody goody" to be cool, and way too smart to have fun. Don't get me wrong, I had lots of great friends, some that are still around. But I never really felt I had found my place in the world.
This past weekend, we visited the new Minnesota SeaLife Aquarium at the Mall of America. We were there for a couple different reasons-the first was that it was Madi's 5th birthday that day. The second was a celebration for our friends whose son Cameron is now one whole year past his latest heart surgery to repair defects from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. (Treatments for HLHS) We also met up with one other heart mom and two of her kids. It was a fun-filled day. Both Sydney and Madi were well-behaved and really enjoyed seeing all the fish.
It was during this MOA trip that I had quite the "aha" moment. While sitting down to have lunch, I brought out my "arsenal". Hand sanitizer, wipes and Madi's noon dose of medication. My friend didn't even bat an eye. In fact, she herself was diligently applying hand sanitizer to her childrens' hands as well as her own. Most times when we are out and about, these prevention measures that we take to protect Madi's immunity are usually met with weird looks, whispers and sometimes pointing. I try my best to just ignore it, knowing that they have no knowledge of why we look like the biggest germaphobes on the planet.
But that day, in the crowded mega-mall, it sunk in. Though I no longer care about fitting in, I finally found a place where I belong. Being a part of the heart world sucks a lot at times. There are way too many doctor's visits, blood draws, medication, surgeries and unfortunately deaths. But sometimes, as crazy as it may sound, it's a great place to be. I would give anything to not have to know what it's like to have a child with a heart problem. Since there's nothing I can do about that, I have learned to make the best of it. In so doing, I have found a group of friends that are the epitome of unconditional friendship. I love all of my friends. Heart moms and dads or not, they are all in my life today because they are special to me. Sometimes, though, it's nice to be in a situation where explanations aren't necessary. It is during these times that my life feels a bit more "normal" than usual. Most likely because it's normal to them.. and they get it.