By Clare Almand
12 Sep

I Wonder What They Worry About

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Every Sunday, a blog called PostSecret posts the images of several postcards or pictures containing anonymous secrets from around the world. I like to check every Sunday and save the ones that I like or that I relate to. Not too long ago, a secret was written on a St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital notepad that read: “I wonder what wealthy parents of healthy children worry about.” Like I imagine many of you will, I connected with it immediately. I don’t quite know from personal experience, but I know two pretty awesome parents who know this feeling all too well.

I don’t think I’ve given my parents enough credit on this blog for helping shape the person I’ve become. I’m not just strong and resilient because of all the heart surgery, I’m strong and resilient because my mom and dad have continued to treat me like a normal person, and pushed me to work hard, do my best, and be independent.

During hospital stays and times of uncertainty for my health, I have the tendency to be very selfish. But the truth is, I am not the only one who goes through something traumatic when I have surgery. And even though I continue to struggle with the emotional effects of the seven heart surgeries I can remember, my parents can remember all 10.

They can remember sitting in a hospital waiting room for hours as New Year’s Eve 1986 became New Year’s Day 1987, only to be told later that their nine-day-old daughter’s heart stopped for 90 seconds during that time and required emergency heart surgery. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to hear that, to experience that, and I know it changed them in ways that none of their friends or family understood.

But despite the damage that those experiences caused my parents, I believe it also changed them into better parents. I grew up with kids whose parents were extremely strict about grades and schoolwork. They placed pressure on their children to major in areas of study that were practical for the real world even if it was contrary to what their children wanted.

I know that my mom and dad realized what a gift my life was and so they encouraged me to study the subjects I loved. They wanted me to do well in school, but knew that grades weren’t the most important thing. They encouraged me to pursue film and writing and rather than keep me close to home, they set me free to move hundreds of miles away to pursue that dream.

So thank you, Jim and Cindy Almand, for all your support and love and encouragement, despite all the holidays and vacations that I have ruined for you two over the past quarter century!

(They are still very involved parents who are constantly thinking of my health and regularly call me about how I need to find a regular job with health insurance. I can’t imagine why.)


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