Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Girl Who Lived

Yesterday I took a gaggle of girls - my three and J-next-door - on a shopping expedition to a nearby town. Walking back to the train station afterwards I lagged behind the three older girls, pushing Little Cherub and a heap of bags. Watching them trotting along, animated and chatty, I thought about the miracle that is J, The Girl Who Lived.

Like The Boy Who Lived (apologies for the allusion if you are not a fan of Harry), J bears an scar. On her chest, put there by surgeons. Like Harry, protected by his mother's love, The Girl Who Lived did so because of the courage and love of her parents.

J was diagnosed in utero with a catastrophic heart malformation, which the doctors predicted would make life outside the womb impossible. If she survived long enough to be born, her first breaths would lead only to suffocation as the blood flooding through her severely enlarged arteries compressed her lungs. Terminate the pregnancy, said the doctors. It would be the best thing. The kindest thing. She can't survive.

I can hardly begin to imagine the courage it takes to struggle through the long, heavy months of pregnancy carrying a baby you know will die at birth. But, thank God, J's parents had the faith and courage to carry that burden. When the time came for the birth to be induced, they simply asked that it should not be on the same day as her brother's birthday - to celebrate the birth of one child and mourn the death of another on the same day would be too painful. And so two days later than originally planned, The Girl Who Would Die was born. And lived.

The doctors were right. J had exactly the heart defects they predicted. But against all the odds her little body fought back. The baby who should have been blue, silent and gasping for breath, was pink, crying and breathing. The doctors were able to wait until she was five months old before carrying out corrective surgery.

And now? J is a happy, active and sporty teenager; she performs lead roles with the local children's theatre group; she has a busy social life and many friends. She cooks. She shops (clothes!!!). Now and then she yells at her Mum. She would lose her head if it wasn't screwed on. She is Angel's very best friend. She lives!

Life? Life is precious. Even the tiniest, most hopeless of lives is precious. Love? Love means having the courage to nurture even the smallest flicker of life, to risk the pain of loss. And sometimes love of that magnitude can be rewarded with a miracle.

I know that.

I know The Girl Who Lived.


Meredith said...

This is the best story, thank you for sharing it!! What a beautiful and blessed girl :))

Karen E. said...

Oh, Kathryn, so beautiful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing this.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful story.