He holds my hand and my heart

There once was a boy who captured my heart…I was never the same from the moment I first laid eyes on him.  He is my son; this post however, is not about him.  Another little boy captured my heart from the moment I first laid eyes on him.  He holds my hand and my heart almost as close as my own son.  I tell him all the time that never, in all the world, has a little boy been so deeply loved by an Auntie as he is by this Auntie (meaning me of course) and I dare someone to tell me it isn’t so (sorry to all the other Auntie’s out there but seriously no one loves this nephew more than me…except his mom of course).

My nephew is my best friend.  He has taught me how to play again and reminded me of the magic and wonder present at his age.  He is also now my hero.

You see…my nephew had temporal lobe epilepsy.  If memory serves, it is the hardest to regulate with meds and easiest controlled by surgery.  Seems pretty simple then right…just do surgery?  It’s not that easy though…something about brain and surgery and four and nephew that just tear up my insides when all put together in the same sentence.  Nonetheless, my four-year-old best friend/hero did indeed undergo not one, but two brain surgeries.  I promised him I’d be there when he woke up from each of them and honoring that promise is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

When his mother and I were allowed back to recovery, what I saw literally took my breath away.  Please be advised, the next picture is not for the faint of heart and may not be suitable for small children.  It is shared by permission and was taken shortly after we arrived in PICU.

When I first saw him in recovery after I caught my breath again, I was almost in tears.  I looked at his mother though and hers were already dripping off her chin.  I swallowed my own so I could support my sister.  The first thing he said when he woke up in PICU was “Mom, my head has an owwww”  and again I almost lost it.

His Mom held one hand and I the other.  I wouldn’t leave the hospital till he woke up and knew that I was there.  I left only after he planted two very sticky kisses on my face…one for each cheek (the way he gives kisses almost makes me think he was French in his past life…wait nevermind I don’t believe in past lives).  Leaving was pretty tough.  Look at him just laying there, obviously in some pain.  My sister was so brave and strong too.  She is also my hero.

Can you believe that  by the time I left the hospital after his first surgery, we were singing to Rio, had had more than one tickle fight, and he was chowing down popsicles just as fast as I could bring them to him.  I don’t know if I’d be so brave or so pleasant after brain surgery…especially not if I woke to find myself in restraints with iv’s in both my arm and leg, and wires connected to me everywhere.  Nephew you are indeed my hero.

The second surgery sought to remove all the damaged portion of his brain responsible for causing his seizures.  Praise God for the blessings He has poured out upon my nephew.  You see…every single seizure he had lit up his brain in the same place and the surgeon had a clear margin…in short my nephew lost a piece of his brain he didn’t need without coming close to any of the areas he did.  I am already claiming the blessing of a seizure free outcome…I’m sure you may have noticed I said he HAD temporal lobe epilepsy right?!?!?  Unfortunately, because of the intensity of this surgery, there were no popsicles, tickle fights or blue birds to be had afterwards.  This is what he looked like just before I left the hospital after his second surgery:

When I finally had to leave, he could barely get out the words “I love you too Auntie.”  He did though…and as usual, I was there at his side holding his hand waiting for him to come to and know I was there…

When I left PICU that night, the tears I had been holding back were ready to spill out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks uncontrollably.  I was sobbing before I even made it to the elevator.  Tears of relief, of sadness, of concern for someone I had met who’s husband was dying, of frustration, of pretty much everything.  Thank you Lord for allowing those tears to come without my sister and nephew present…neither of them would benefit from seeing me upset.

Though it took him much longer to come back to us after his second surgery, my nephew had God’s favor and was just about back to his usual self in less than 24 hours.  Here’s a picture I took of him about 24 hours after surgery…this was after he walked through the hospital with me on a mission to find chips and candy.  He wanted chips so bad…asked Mom for them for hours.  What kind of Auntie would I be if I didn’t get him chips AND candy too right?!?!?

He looks amazing doesn’t he????  I’m not sure if he holds my hand because he holds my heart  or if holds my heart because he holds my hand, perhaps it’s both.

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