7/27/2012 11:58 AM
By Lorelei Hill
I can't believe how time has flown this summer! It would seem as though life were back to normal.
The kids have been at camp, completed art lessons, and gone fishing. My longtime friend, Fran, has been here for a week. What's left to do?
The answer is so clear.
During Fran's visit my daughter and I had a "spat." Kate refused to go to bed. Rather than defuse the situation, I attempted to control it. Control NEVER works. Kate ended up in tears and so did I.
The next morning, Fran and I had an hour of truth. She talked; I listened. It was the type of talk that only two people who have known each other for a very long time can have.
She told me the story of a couple in New York during 9/11. Both survived, but one of them walked away changed. His previously easygoing nature was gone. After that horrific day, he had to control every detail of his life.
The bed had to be made immediately, and the dishes washed. Everything in the house had its place. It wasn’t long before their relationship began to suffer.
“You've been through a terrible shock as well,” Fran gently stated. Instantly my tears rose to the surface.
I first met Fran while on a teaching contract. I taught grade two. She taught grade three. I was young, single, and as Fran put it, "easygoing." I laughed a lot and enjoyed life. I loved to play, laugh, and explore everything with my students. I had control of the classroom, but never took control.
My health declined soon after our children came. I didn't realize it then, but that was the beginning of my 9/11. It’s been years now since I’ve seen the person I once was. I miss her. So, too, I'm sure does Mike.
It wasn't any one thing that brought on my need for control. Rather, it was a series of setbacks.
The day my cardiologist uttered the word "transplant" changed everything. I remained positive, knowing that my body would continue to survive.
By all observations, my outlook for the future was great. “How do you do it?” friends would ask. Little did anyone realize, in the privacy of my home, subtle changes were taking place.
It took years for my cardiologist to get me listed for transplant. Other specialists felt my other vital organs were too far gone. As my doctor fought for me, I began preparing my young children for an outcome the others felt was inevitable.
Like Fran's friend, I too began to control every little thing. All those toys piling up—on the kitchen counter, in the kid's rooms, and in the playroom—drove me crazy. Literally! Beds had to be made, the dishes cleaned, the deck tidied, and the clothes put away. Only then did everything feel OK.
Never seeing my behavior as compulsive, I found ways to control every aspect of my life. Making everyone, including me, miserable! It took five days living with a friend who loved me enough to tell me the truth for me to see what my family has been trying to tell me for a very long time now!
Tears are healing. Especially when you have a soft shoulder to cry them on. As Fran patted my back and told me she loved me, I felt years of shell shock melt away.
Leaving me with a spirit as strong as my new heart, Fran went home. All is well. It's time for my children to be children again and for Mike and me to be as we were before this all began.
A toy puppy sits on my couch, three neighborhood boys are visiting, muddy sandals line the entrance of my home, and the clutter is back! I feel more relaxed than I have in years, and can breathe easy again. My 9/11 is over.
Hello from Ontario, Canada! Lorelei Hill is a mother of two CHD babies, wife, writer/teacher, and a survivor of tricuspid atresia. After graduating with honors from Queen’s University in Kingston, Lorelei went on to teach and travel the world. Now settled into small town life, she is working with other CHD patients and her own cardiac specialists to complete a self-help book for young CHD families, entitled From the Heart. Click here to visit her website.