Tennis Shoes

While I lived in Texas I made a trip home to Ohio to see family. My daughter was only 6 months old and had already had two surgeries. She was born with spina bifida and her first surgery was to close the opening in her back. The second surgery was to place a shunt in her brain to drain excessive cerebral spinal fluid to protect the brain cells from hydrocephalus. We had driven home for Christmas to spend time with family.

On our last day there, my mother and sisters decided to go shopping. My husband kept our daughter and son and I saw this as a great break from the day to day responsibilities of a young mother and relished the opportunity to be with my sisters and mother. We talked and laughed and had a relaxing time. It was so refreshing.

When we got back to the house my husband said Kristen had been really fussy. This was not like her. She was a very good, and generally contented baby. When I held her, I knew the problem. I could see the ‘bubble’ of the shunt had collapsed. We needed to take her to emergent care. Off we went to the local children’s hospital to find a neurosurgeon. We discovered she would need emergency surgery to replace the shunt. Family got word and they all met us and stayed with us while she underwent the surgery.

It is so difficult to turn over your small, helpless, baby to people you do not know. To let them take her into the cold sterile room. They don’t let you in there-you have to trust them.

Surgery went well. Everyone but Kristen and I went home. I slept beside her in a little cot. Early in the morning, when my eyes were just opening, I could see under Kristen’s crib to the other side of the room. There were little white tennis shoes silently rising and falling with the rhythm of the wooden rocking chair. I rubbed my eyes, and sure enough someone was quietly sitting with us-My Twin.

Somehow that memory is logged in my brain. It is one of the portraits in the art gallery of my mind. It comes to me often. I think it is because it made me feel watched over. Here she was, I am not sure when she got there, but she patiently waited and watched over us. Ready at any moment to be of support and assistance. I was rather new to this world of special needs. It was the third of 13 surgeries. No matter what surgery waiting room I was in, I never felt alone.

When I feel a little unsure, or a little overwhelmed, I can see those shoes. I know I am not alone.

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