Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scattering Sunshine: One Week Until Surgery

When I was maybe 17 or 18, my mom gave me a book by Norman Vincent Peale called "Positive Thinking Every Day".  That has now almost been 20 years (almost-- not quite-- I'm still 36!) ago and I still read it every single day.  Each day it provides a nugget of wisdom and a positive outlook for the day.

The pages of my copy are dog-eared and the cover long ago ripped off and now serves as a daily bookmark.  The advice is always simple, but powerful.  Some days it is only a short sentence and other days it is a paragraph.

As we head down the long (but short-- some sort of crazy time trick this waiting for surgery thing is) road towards June 8th, I couldn't help myself, but to peek ahead and see what sort of "positive" thinking Mr. Peale could provide me for the day our precious Joey will be undergoing open heart surgery.

Here is what he advises for June 8th:

The way to happiness:  keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry.  Live simply, expect little, give much.  Fill your life with love.  Scatter sunshine.  Forget self, think of others.  Do as you would be done by.  Try this for a week and you will be surprised.

Pretty powerful words.  They seem like the perfect words to keep in mind and to try and put into practice.

I wish I could describe better what I'm feeling.  What I think about.  How we are preparing.  A lot of it is just faith and prayers.  The same things that brought Joey this far.  For a little boy who was given an incredibly slim chance of surviving pregnancy (about a 2% chance), he seems to love proving us all wrong. 

There are some good things to the upcoming surgery.  Things like phone calls from friends far away.  Today I answered my phone and it was my good friend Captain Mitchell from the Navy.  He was my XO in DC and he and his wife have always been so kind to me and now to my family.    Captain Fred has a hilarious sense of humor and I'll never forget the day I had to go in and tell him that we had an issue with one of Coasties (ie: a Coast Guard JAG) who had a horrible case of body odor that was causing an incredible amount of suffering in the hot, Navy Yard office in the 95 degree August days.  I will never forget how he looked at me and said, "Lieutenant Fryyyyyymuuuuth (he always drawled out the Freimuth),  are you trying to kill me?" and then he broke down laughing so hard that he started to cry.  We laughed and laughed and then lamented the difficulty in how to properly approach a colleague about such a sensitive issue.  

There was a text from my college roommate Emily--my partner in crime while we were the "les enfants" in Paris, France for part of a summer.  There have been notes and cards of encouragement.  Baskets of treats for the boys.  So much kindness and so much love that my throat gets thick and my eyes well up from all of the love and support.  From all the kind ladies at pilates to the therapists and help me grow friends we have met-- Joey has brought out so much goodness that sometimes it's hard to even be sad.  When people rally-- they really rally.  

A year ago, while pregnant and knowing both about Joey having Down syndrome and also knowing he would probably need open heart surgery, I always wondered whether or not I would ever forget about the Down syndrome part.  Would it always cause me to be so deeply sad in the pit of stomach?  Would I ever outgrow the grief and pain I felt when we first learned of the diagnosis?

I thought that surely such a day would never, ever come.  

Well, it finally has.  With all of our focus on his surgery and getting him to his best place, the Down syndrome truly has taken a backseat.  We all know he has it, but, honestly, it just doesn't really "matter" like it used to matter.  Open heart surgery comes with a lot of fears and unknown, but at least it has helped us appreciate Joey and to focus on what is really important.  Having Down syndrome will mean some extra steps along the path of life, but at least he is alive and at least he is here with us.  That is what is really important.

For every call, text, card, note, email, offer to help and words of encouragement-- we are so grateful.  So humbled.  It's hard to ask for and hard to accept help.  I pride myself on being "capable" and "able" of handling the hard stuff.  Getting stuff done.  Powering through the pain.  But, in this case, the love, the prayers, the friendship, the family-- I thank you so very much and I appreciate your support while we help Joey become his best self.

In celebration of getting Joey's heart fixed and in the spirit of "scattering sunshine"-- I'm having another GIVEAWAY!!!!!

I'm going to give away three copies of Norman Vincent Peale's "Positive Thinking Every Day" to three people who comment on this post.  The drawing is open until Friday, June 1st at midnight EST and three names will be randomly drawn.

So, let's forget self and think of others and scatter a little sunshine.


  1. Love the page for June 8th! Saying prayers for you all every day!

  2. Your Captain Mitchell sounds like a funny guy!

    Please know that Joey, your family, and the medical team are in my prayers. Keep us posted!

  3. You do so much for is your turn to receive a little help. That book sounds amazing! We all need a reminder of how to think positive. Give joey and tommy kisses. See you soon.


  4. You nailed it on the head. In some ways, a heart defect and OHS really DID make us realize what was important. Ds has seemed so much smaller as a result. Lots of prayers with you and your family. The power of positive thinking goes such a long way.

  5. Joey and Tommy are so lucky to have you as their Mommy!!! You are truly one of a kind and reading your blog is always so inspirational. Keep up your strong spirit and faith and take comfort in knowing that Joey is in everyone's prayers and thoughts.

  6. "Live Simply, Expect Little, Give Much...Forget Self Think of Others."

    This must be a calling for little bro to help out as much as possible! Cannot wait to see you guys and help in any way possible :)

    Love you!

    'Little' brother,

  7. Love your blog! Joey is so close to my Oliver in age. Prayers for Joey and his upcoming surgery.


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