John made it home safe and sound on December 23rd. Before falling asleep, we were all in our pajamas gathered together on our king-sized bed discussing the week's events. The dog was jumping from one person to another as we laughed and talked and prayed and gave John extra doses of hugs and kisses. I woke up on Christmas Eve to the beauty of fresh fallen snow and an inward peace that comes from having all five of us under the same roof. I am humbled. Who are we that God should be so mindful, lavishing gift after gift on us?
To help me preserve the memories, here is a gallery of 20 captioned photos:
I am in awe of how intricately our bodies are made. The heart is a beautiful muscle with electricity wrapped around it. Technology is impressive. This was John's 4th heart surgery, and I saw a maturity in him this time around. Maybe it's because he's growing up, maybe it's because we have all come to accept his heart defect by now, maybe it's a combination. Regardless, this hospitalization was different. Instead of screaming and complaining when he needed something, he has really learned to use his words. In the middle of the first night after surgery, he covered his eyes to hide his tears and said, "Mom, I'm awake and I'm sick of seeping (sleeping)". The emotions of the day caught up with him and he felt lonely. It became a tender moment for both of us.
John is well on his way to a full recovery, especially since he was able to come home so quickly. The hospital pharmacy provided all the additional meds needed for pain control and infection prevention. He also came home on a holter monitor to keep an eye on his pacing...we want the pacemaker leads to stay away from any scar tissue so the electrical currents travel the way they're supposed to. We're doing everything we can to avoid sickness which can be tricky this time of year. Overall, this pacemaker is already helping his cardiac output, making for a fun and energetic little John. Watch out world!
In many ways, this has been our best Christmas together as a family. When someone you love is suffering, it softens you. You no longer worry about trivial things like who's going to host and who's going to bring what. There are extra books at night, more games played around the kitchen table, and definitely more "I love you's". Older siblings are taking the extra time to find the right battery for that favorite new toy. We ask each other what movie the other wants to watch. When the remote controlled car runs into your ankle, there's a simple "I'm sorry" instead of an empty excuse. Everyone is extra tender and calm.
Finally, dearest friends, love is the best gift of all...thank-you, thank-you, thank-you so much, everyone! All your visits, messages, gifts, childcare, and prayers had me in tears. The videos you sent gave us a much needed laugh. You're the best!