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Archives ‘Mary paves the way for all mothers’

By Kristina Dean
Staff Writer

It’s funny how certain memories come back to us. I remember the room was too hot the night before and not sleeping. I remember getting up early to get to the hospital and being afraid we wouldn’t find a parking spot. I remember holding my four-year-old’s hand on the way in and thinking of how small he was and how large the procedure seemed. I remember trying to keep a cheerful demeanor for his sake, although I was completely ridden with anxiety and apprehension.

Probably one of the memories that stays with me the most is holding him close, telling him how much I loved him, how proud I was of him, as they put the mask over his nose. I felt his body go completely limp. I opened my arms, and let him go to the operating nurses. I gave him over to them. I walked away, and then I let the cheerful demeanor drop and cried in the surgeon’s arms.

Alex, my middle son, had open heart surgery to repair a congenital heart problem, something called a ventricular septal defect, which meant he had a hole in one of the interior walls of his heart. We’d been told after his birth that he had a murmur and after meeting with the pediatric cardiologist, that it was substantial. (So substantial that upon doctor visits for minor reasons, i.e. colds, ear infections, the attending physician - no matter who - would always become excited and would call others in to listen to it.)

His heart doctor kept track of it with twice a year visits for echocardiograms, and in late November, 2010 he informed us that Alex’s heart was starting to work too hard to compensate and one side was become oversized. Without surgery, he would start having serious heart problems as a young man and would probably die early. We were advised to schedule the surgery before he entered kindergarten.

His surgery was a year ago February 22, 2011 - about a month before his fifth birthday. The doctors told us that his breastbone would be cut open and he’d have a Gortex patch sewn into the hole in his heart. As he recovered, eventually flesh would grow to cover the patch. His breastbone would be wired back together.It sounded painful, it sounded like too much for his little body. This was something that set grown men back!
As we prepared for the surgery, I was given some good advice. Pray to Mary’s Immaculate Heart and Jesus’s Sacred Heart to heal Alex’s heart. Plus, as a member of Women of Grace, a ministry for women, I had a sacred sisterhood that listened to my fears, gave me advice, and prayed for Alex as if he was their son. We needed these prayers.

After surgery, Alex woke up and fought his breathing tube. I sat next to his bed with my husband, and we tried to calm him down, speak to him, reason with him. For five exhausting hours we watched as Alex panicked and tried to scream over a tube that wouldn’t let him make a sound. When they finally removed the tube, I remember finally letting go of the sheet on his bed, feeling cramps in my hands. My whole body ached. I had been fighting the tube right along with him.

Like any mother, I wished I could take his place. I would done anything to take away his pain and fear.
I thought about Mary, our Blessed Mother, - watching her son suffer. And she, knowing it was God’s will, couldn’t do anything to make it better for Him, other than to be there for Him.

Women of Grace teaches us that Mary is our role mode and this helped me during this time. It put my suffering in perspective. As hard as it was for me, how much harder was it for her! Her son was going to his death, certainly. And she - so pure and immaculate - must have suffered intensely. And I thought about children that are called to heaven. I can’t begin to imagine their parents’ suffering. They are the most like Mary in their pain and grief. How small my suffering is to theirs!

Although my words and prayers seem woefully inadequate to me, I pray that these parents have love and support of their own, and that they are able to offer up their tears and sacrifice. I pray someday they will have a beautiful reunion with their child.

Today, I offer up my small suffering to our Blessed Mother to use to bring blessings down upon those that I love. I am thankful that my son Alex is healthy today. I thank the Women of Grace of Evans Mills and our family and friends for their prayers and love. But most of all, I thank Mary who is always with us during our most difficult times. She paved the way for all mothers, and she surrounds us with her healing and gentleness in times of trial and stress. We are her own children, she who loves us and suffers along with us.

"O Mary, a terrible sword has pierced your holy soul. Except for God, no one knows of your suffering. Your soul does not break; it is brave because it is with Jesus, Sweet Mother, unite my soul to Jesus, because it is only then that I will be able to endure all trials and tribulations, and only in union with Jesus will my little sacrifices be pleasing to God. Sweetest Mother, continue to teach me about the interior life. May the sword of suffering never break me. O pure Virgin, pour courage into my heart and guard it."
(Prayer to the Mother of Divine Mercy)

Alex Dean

A year after successful open heart surgery, five year old Alex Dean of Antwerp celebrates “Heart Day” with his family. His mother , Kristina, writes about the strength she received from her faith as her son underwent the dangerous operation.

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