A Heart Made of Glass

Four year old Alex is the seventh of our adopted children.  He came to us after spending the first six months of his little life in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Alex was born with a critical cardiac condition , hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  The treatment for HLHS is a series of surgeries  to gradually reroute blood as it flows through the heart to the rest of the body.  Stents and other pieces of hardware become a permanent part of a repaired hypoplastic left heart. Basically, Alex was born with a broken heart.  In some ways, he was one step ahead. He didn’t need to wait for some pretty little thing to break it for him.

Twenty year old Sonty is the second of our adopted children, a happy, loving intelligent boy, with a fully functioning heart. However, Sonty seems to lack a bit in common sense.  Or maybe he just blurts out the first thing that comes into his brain.  This condition is often known as FIM or “foot in mouth” syndrome.  A few examples…two weeks after a visiting cousin,  Michael, had returned home to Maryland, Sonty asked if Michael was sightseeing in the city. Then there’s the incident where I texted him to ask if he’d be home for dinner and he texted back, “yes no”.  Or the time Sonty’s brother, Kevin, moved back from Florida and a month later Sonty said, “Hey, Kev, when did you get back?”  Keep in mind,  Kevin and Sonty live in the same house and sleep on the same floor.  “Earth to Sonty!

It was a warm April day as Alex and Rosey along with their nephew, Lucas and their niece, Evelyn played in the long hallway that is the entrance to our home. Sonty and his friend sat on the steps enjoyably watching the little ones. As Alex pushed his toy cars across the floor, I noticed that he had something in his mouth.  Alex is notorious for taste testing anything smaller than his head, whether edible or non-edible.  He has snacked on pennies, dog food, little wheels off of Matchbox cars, cat food, paper, crayons and baby wipes.   As I bent down to inspect what he was chewing on, he spit  a piece of glass into my hand.  I thought for a second (the usual length of most of my thoughts) and remembered that a few days earlier I had dropped and broken a wine glass in the hallway. I thought I had swept up all of the broken bits of glass , but apparently I had missed one.  Sonty stood up to inspect the glass and then very seriously commented, “Oh, that must be a piece of Alex’s heart.”  I looked at Sonty in disbelief.  He then added, “What?  Didn’t the doctors replace some parts of Alex’s heart with glass parts?”   I  said, “That’s right, Sonty. And every so often a piece of glass breaks off of Alex’s heart and he coughs it up and spits it out.  Eventually , Alex will cough up his entire heart and he will then be heartless!”   Needless to say, Sonty’s take on Alex’s heart became the subject of much comic exchange among his older brothers. However, while  Sonty may be known, in our family, as a bit of an airhead, we all know, without question, his heart is made of the right stuff.




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