My girl has a funny habit of peering down our shirts. I have assumed she was noticing the, um, differences between mommy and daddy. Except over the weekend after a bath I plopped her on the counter to torture her with the Qtips. She kept pointing at the scar on her chest, looking at her herself in the mirror and running her index finger up and down that line.
Then she tried to look down my shirt.
I don't think I can adequately explain that moment. I froze. Horror. And joy. Horror that they had to crack her chest open in the first place. Joy that they were able to fix her heart. Glee, that she noticed the difference, noticed my missing scar. Sadness, that she'll always bear that mark. I hope it's a source of pride for her.
I tried to google open heart pediatric surgery to see when it was they started (successfully) operating on babies but, of course, there's no one breakthrough date. According to Wiki, the first open heart surgery on a child was in 1956 - on a four year old. It might be pure fantasy, but I imagine it was about the same time they stopped recommending girls like mine be sent away from their families. Sent away to die alone. About the same time girls like mine were guaranteed an education. A year after I was born. Thirty-some odd years ago and a universe apart. Good God but we are fortunate.