Unexpected gifts.

It’s been unseasonably warm this winter…even for Texas.

I know so many people are just ready for the winter to roll in…winter meaning 30s and 40s….I’d still prefer 50s.

The season just doesn’t feel as merry and bright as it should when your Santa is wearing flip flops.

I secretly think this weather is a gift to me.

An unexpected gift from God.

Because of the warm weather, outings are more manageable with my little who is in isolation.

I’ve been dreading the winter – trying to stay out of the harms way of colds and flu – that often travels with gusts of cold winds and blistering cold weather.

But, we’ve had some beautiful weather in these here parts.

And it’s allowed for some beautiful memories to be made because of it.

I sat up all night on Friday after the craptastic day I had with Evan.

I thought about how hard the past 10 months have been.  Really thought about the heaviness of our situation.

I lay awake all night.  At times I would cry.  At times I would just sit and think. At times I would creep into Iz’s room and watch her sleep.  At times I would sit in Evan’s room and just listen to the sound of his breathing.

I thought about how our life has changed to one I never thought I would be living in.

I thought about how scary Evan’s diagnosis really is and the reality of his future.

I thought about the future surgeries, recollected the ones we’ve had.

I thought about my marriage and how it’s been affected.

I thought about my daughter and how her innocence has somehow been tainted because of all we have been through.

I thought about how for the past 10 months I have been surviving.  I have done everything I can in my power to make sure my son stays alive…how we have done all we can do to make sure my boy lives.

When I realized…

I’ve forgotten to live.

When you are in the early stages of this journey, it’s what you do, though.  You focus on making sure your child lives to see the next surgery…the next day.

And then…when they get to that point…you say a prayer and start living as normally as possible.

Until the next surgery…

In ideal heart cases, the next surgery could be 3 or more years away.

Our Evan, my boy with the smile for miles, wasn’t given that luxury.  We were faced with more surgeries within months of his open heart surgery….we face another big craniofacial surgery in the very near future.

So, our days of counting down days to the next big hospital stay are closer than most.

But, ideally, there should be a gap in time where us heart families are allowed to live.

Encouraged to live….normally…

I look at my boy and can’t believe how big he is.  He’s grown.  He’s suddenly lost his baby face and is a little boy.

I look at my best girl and realize how much she has changed, too.  Her little voice still sweet and young…but her words are bountiful, adult, grown.

I look at my husband and see a change in him…older…tired…he’s weathered this storm, too.

I look in the mirror and just throw up at the sight of my reflection (someone call Ellen or Oprah and get me on a makeover show…stat!).

These past 10 months my family has been surviving…just trying to get to the next day.

So, on Saturday….I decided I wanted to just live it..live our lives for one day…

I wanted to enjoy this unexpected gift of the the warm weather and blue skies.

I wanted to walk outside and let the sun hit my boy’s face, let his skin feel the breeze, let him see the world I’m so desperately fighting everyday for him to live in.

At breakfast I told Craig I wanted to take our kids to the zoo.  I wanted to enjoy the day with my family.  I wanted to be away from the oxygen monitor, my stethoscope, and the reminders of our heart world.

He was a little surprised….I don’t normally want to do normal things lately.

The “new” me was saddened by the revelation that we’ve forgotten to live these past 10 months…

Our brood packed up the strollers, the feeding bags, and diaper bag and headed to the zoo.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect for us.

Mr. Sun was shining, the sky was blue with wisps of clouds here and there…

I stayed true the Heart Mom in me and stayed away from crowds and kept Evan in his stroller if there were lots of people gathered around.

But, the mom in me let my boy experience what all kids should experience to their first trip to the zoo.

I held him close in the baby carrier and let him see the fish, smell the “stinky” stalls of the petting zoo. I pointed out the monkeys, the koalas, the kangaroos.

I roared as we saw lions.

I imitated elephants and their trunks with the gesture of my arm as he squealed and kicked with my display.

I tapped on the glass of the penguins and giggled at their silly tuxedos they don.

We fed giraffes…we touched their long neck….we felt their prickly tongue.

Iz ran ahead “looking for clues” on our adventure.

Craig followed closely behind…our pack mule as usual…lugging around the bags, pushing the strollers, taking the pictures.

It was so normal.  Our family of four.  Just being.

I would see glances from strangers as they saw my boy’s face…but then quickly saw their smiles as he flashed them his.

I would check my boy every now and then…making sure he wasn’t too hot or too cold…or too blue.

I never left the part of my mind of his very sick heart….but I didn’t linger in that place like I normally do.

I really just enjoyed the gift of the weather, the gift of the day, the gift of my family of four doing the very thing I’ve been praying for.


A year ago…perhaps even a few months ago….I wasn’t sure I’d get to have moments like the one at the zoo.

But, we were given this gift of life for my boy.  By God’s grace and mercy he’s alive today…thriving…

Such an unexpected gift….



  1. Flo Journey says:

    May God Bless your heart and your beautiful family 🙂

  2. So glad you decided to get out as a family…..it is so important to make your marriage a priority as well in hard times. You all look so happy. It looks like the kiddos really enjoyed their time at the zoo. I pray that you continue to enjoy “normal” outings like this. The smile on your four faces makes me melt. By the way, you look great. :). Our family continues to pray for adorable Evan and your entire family nightly. Hugs!