What happens next?  

That moment in time when you suddenly realize that you haven’t checked vitals, are surprised by the phone call reminding you of a doctor’s appointment…

What happens when you are living your life by the social events on the calendar – from date nights, to birthday parties, to low key evenings with fr-amily (friend/family mashups)?

Instead of doctor’s appointments, medication refills, next procedure or next surgery?

What happens when you dust off the dreams of the future and make them the realities of your present?

What happens when you have dreamed of normal for so long…and then wake up and realize you are in it?

Normal is a relative term…always will be.

To us, “normal” is still specialist appointments every 3 months, specialty drugs delivered by mail, impromptu vitals check “just to be sure.”

But, here we are….the closest to “normal” as the Jones family down the street.

I am told by people who surround us to enjoy this.  Enjoy this normalcy we have been given.  Enjoy this slice of monotony and boredom that accompanies the everyday messes of life.

And about 99% of the time…we do.

The crazy thing about “normal” – or our normal – is when we run into the unicorn of our old life again.

When we run head first into the moments that were once our old life…or the life we thought we left behind….

With each step forward (the only direction our lives can take us)….we hope to move away from the aches and the pain of our old life.

The old life of heart pounding diagnoses, mystery illnesses and symptoms, unavoidable meet cutes with new medical personnel that could “cure” or “help” or provide us with that “miracle”.

It’s that 1% of living the un-normal life that I fear most. Because, quite honestly, I love the life we have now.

Evan…my boy…my miracle is one year post the surgery that changed his life.

The surgery that made his heart whole.  The surgery that moved him from absolutely needing a heart transplant one day to just being in the “maybe” pile.

A year ago today…I wondered if I would see my son alive again as I watched him recover from the hardest surgery of his life.  I wondered if the trip to across country would pay off.  I wondered if my marriage could survive the enormous stress of the the Heart-life.  I wondered if my daughter would understand if her brother didn’t wake.  I wondered how in the world I was still breathing and moving forward…as my son lay so still.

A year ago today…

Today…our lives are filled with everyday tantrums, fighting over toys with sister, time outs in the corner for jumping on the stairs or throwing toys from the 2nd story.

Today…our lives are filled with date nights – just me and the mister – with old (and awesome new) friends – where we laugh hard, eat well, and toast life.

Today….our lives are filled with schedules full of the balancing act of school events for my best boy and best girl, school tests for me!, and

Our life looks like anyone else’s.

And I owe it all to Evan.

Our beautiful life of “normal” I owe it to him (and Him…of course).

Our medical teams – in Dallas and in Boston – did great things for our boy.  They tinkered on/in/around his heart to make it the best it could. The teams in the ICU and the medical floor guided us as we recovered.

But, Evan, my superhero, did the rest. He came back to us.

That sm-uge (small/huge mash up) act is something many heart heroes haven’t been able to do.  I know, all too well, that some of the littles in the Heartland were just too tired from fighting so hard and so long…and they didn’t come back.  Those littles we have said goodbye too…fought hard…fought long…fought bravely…but for whatever reason (medical or supernatural)…just didn’t come back.

Mine did.

And I am forever grateful for that.

Because of that…Evan gave us this day and the all the days from here to our next mountain…of normal.

He fills our days with normal and completes this family we have created.  His presence makes our everyday whole.

I don’t look at our dinner table anymore and hurt inside wondering if one day soon his seat would be empty.

I don’t run to the dressing room of department stores and hide while I cry…because the ache of buying the “next size up” was so overwhelming scary…because what if he wasn’t here to wear something I picked out for the next season?

The ironic thing is…while Evan is stable…while Evan is in a good place heart wise…I still don’t know what the future holds for my boy.

There is false sense of “all is well” when you see your child thriving.

Because…in truth…we don’t know – for anyone – what lies in wait around the next turn of our life.

I have faced this hard truth head first over and over again this year….waiting for a cancer diagnosis for myself, Evan getting dangerously ill, Evan having unexpected heart issues, my daughter having episodes of PTSD and separation issues, my husband earning himself a hospital stay for a possible heart attack.

And yet…here we are.

We are living life like all is well.

Because, all is.

This normalcy is such a gift.  It really is.  I don’t take a second of it for granted.

I don’t fall apart like I used to.

I don’t fear the unknown like I did once before.

I don’t let life pass by as we wait for the “other shoe to drop.”

For the first time…in so long…we (me) are choosing to live it.

There is nothing I can do if life throws me the most difficult things all at once and asks me to deal with it.

Because…I have to just do that…deal with it.

Three plus years into this journey…I finally understand.

I understand that my son isn’t normal….but I will treat him as such.

I understand that his health is a delicate balance of watching, waiting, and doing….but it shouldn’t be all that I’m doing.

I understand that my “normal” is perfect and shouldn’t be compared to those around me…because – well – it’s mine.

I understand that we may not be given another day with him….so I try and treat every day like I don’t know if we will get a tomorrow.

I understand that that little fact ^^^ – that little old sentence ^^^ – is what it means to not just live the life in the Heartland but to just live your life.

Because our (our being me, you, the person next door, etc, etc) mountains, our hardships, our disappointments are tailored to each individual life.

But, we are each given today…and if we are so lucky…maybe we are given a tomorrow and the next and the next.

And that is what living “normal” is about.

I have learned that fact from Evan, from Killian, from Michael, from Kaleb, from Emma, from Bodie, from Zoe, from Izzy, from Jonah, from Tyler, from Vivi, from Christian.. (the list can go on forever)…from the warriors still here and their fight.

Yet…I have also learned ….from Finley, from Rowan, from Noah…from the warriors we lost too soon…that worrying about today just robs us of the the gift that IS today.

And that is something I just learned recently.

So…a year ago today…our lives changed forever.

But, our lives changed forever when I realized how to finally live it.