Posts Tagged ‘Trader Joe’s’

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places. (Ernest Hemingway)

My husband and I are at the checkout counter at Trader Joe’s. No one is behind us in line. The girl at the register asks us about our day and Jay tells her we are going to visit our granddaughter in the coronary care unit.

The girl at the checkout pauses, and then gets the attention of a fellow employee who gives us a bouquet of flowers for Ella. I doubt that our little one can have flowers in her room yet, but the gesture takes me by surprise. I hope that a few controlled tears represent sufficient gratitude. Kudos to Trader Joe’s for the personal touch.

Jay found a package of somewhat-natural sweets for Ella. We expect her to respond more to taste than sight at the moment, but her parents should appreciate the kindness of multicolored flowers. No kindness is wasted.

My son sent a picture of our girl with her big, bright eyes glowing. Her hands are tied down to various lines. Nevertheless, she opens her mouth for fruit. Ella is a survivor. We count on that.

When we arrive in her room Ella fights sleep. She doesn’t want to miss anything—except perhaps the next poke or prod. She is sans oxygen now, however. Her ventilator came out earlier. Her open heart surgery was 24-hours ago. She is progressing ahead of schedule.

I think about the start Ella had in life: born seven weeks early with a birth weight of three pounds three ounces, duodenal atresia, and an AV Canal heart defect. Yet the nurses fought about who would care for her each day.

She has grown to be an active, enthusiastic five-year-old girl.

As I watch her I worry that this time her spark will burn out. Then I realize I am looking at my fears, not hers. Ella uses her tripled chromosome as a lever for caring. She doesn’t allow ego to get in her way. She isn’t competing with anyone for first place—in anything.

Two days ago she wanted to push me on the swing at a local park. She insisted, and I let her do it.

“Want to go higher, Mawmaw?”


But I kept the toe of my shoe on the ground so that the swing didn’t come back to hit her. The surgeon needed to break through her chest—with skill—not through a clumsy accident. I knew what she would be facing. She didn’t. But somehow she intuited it was time to put on extra charm, keep the grandparents at ease. The trial hadn’t come; we had not arrived at the huge medical bridge that needed to be crossed. Yet.

The cut flowers won’t last. They never do. The store’s gesture remains as a ripple of kindness I need to pass along. The broken places in a person become opportunities—to remain severed or to become something new, something better.

Ella’s surgery was on Thursday. By Sunday she has left behind the ventilator, oxygen, and the lines that connect her to a bed. She stands. She will be running soon. Tylenol or ibuprofen controls her pain. I can’t imagine an adult bouncing back that quickly. Ella doesn’t know misery can be extended by choice.

She isn’t ready to push me on any swings yet. But I can’t imagine that it will take long.

Ella at Mt. Airy Park04242015_0000


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