12 April 2010

Rockin' the Scar

Today as I waited to pick up my lunch order from Nopalitos, I noticed a father with his teenage son who has Ds. They were finishing up their lunch - actually, the dad was trying to get his son to eat a few more bites of the bean and cheese nachos he'd only eaten 1/3 of.

I was in everybody's way (both because it was packed and because I wanted to watch the dad and his boy). I know the boy thought I was staring at him. 

Ok. I sort of was. But I was trying to be subtle about it, ya know?

I could feel that nervous pit in my stomach. I really wanted to say hi. But am I rude for interrupting their lunch (yeah, a little, but the dad was done eating and was fighting a losing battle against a teenager who didn't want to eat any more pinto beans).

Three or four times I almost got up the courage to go over there. What the heck would I say? "Hi, my name is Lisa and my son has Ds, too"???? Yeeeeahhhhh, that didn't really work out for me last time, remember?

The dad clearly noticed that I was eying them up. He mouthed to me, "we're almost done here," as he pointed at their table. GULP. Here we go...

I walked over to his table and leaned over and said, "Hi, my name is Lisa. What's your name?" Um, yeah, that's not weird at all, Lisa... he looked at me a little shocked (I don't blame him), told me his name, and shook my hand.

"Well, I just wanted to say hi because I have a 19-month-old son who has Ds."

And then came the smile. You know the one.

I love that smile.

Turns out, they're not local. They are from Chico (about 2 hours from Sacramento) and they come here to visit the boy's cardiologist every 2 years and always eat at Nopalitos afterwards. Why do they visit the cardiologist, you ask? As routine follow-up to the open-heart surgery he had at 6 months old.

Get out!

And he goes to the same cardiology group Sheridan sees...

I, of course, told him that we just found out that Sheridan will need surgery. I didn't even say another word and the dad looked at me and said, "I know you feel like you are going through hell. I know how hard it is and how scary it is. But after this, everything is a piece of cake. Trust me."

He told me about how scary it was for him and his wife. Especially the sight of him after surgery (he said nothing can fully prepare you to see your child with tubes and wires sticking out of them, even if they don't really look "bad"). He said going home with their son 9 days after surgery was the scariest part because they lived 2 hours away and they were worried ("he had staples keeping the incision closed and then one day they just took them out and put some tape for the wound - how they hell does that seem safe?!"). But he insisted, "just remember, they won't let your son go home if he's not ready, so if they let him go home, just know that he's really doing well."

Anyway, we talked a bit more about surgery - he pretty much just told me to fix Sheridan's heart and know that everything will be ok. He also told me that even though it was scary at the time, he doesn't even remember much about those 9 days in the hospital. He said the thing he remembers most was eating lunch at Nopalitos every day!

We talked a little more small talk before my food was ready. They have 4 children - the 14-year-old with Ds is their oldest. Etc. He was so nice. And just kept telling me that once I'm on the other side I'll wonder why I was so scared.

His son finished his nachos. And laughed when his dad teased him, "I thought you said you were full."

I left with a huge smile on my face.

As I got in the car and was ready to start my car, I looked up and the dad was chasing after me. Flagging me down. I opened my car door.

"The moment you left my son raised up his sweatshirt and showed off his scar. Would you like to see his scar?"

I almost cried - he had to know. He just had to know.

"Yes. Please. If that's okay. I would really like that if he's willing."

He shyly came around the corner, and then not-so-shyly put his sweatshirt up over his face to reveal his entire scar.

It was big. But it wasn't a big deal. Ya know?

His dad pointed out the other 2 small scars where the drainage tubes were. He mentioned that they were surprised that the scar got so big (it was only a 3-inch incision when he was 6 months old), but of course it makes sense that it grew over time with him.

So I joked with his son, "I bet the girls like your scar." He totally blushed and looked down at the ground. I didn't mean to embarrass him in front of his dad :)

He golfs, plays basketball, and swims in the special olympics. His dad said he likes to walk around with no shirt so he can show off his scar.

Sheridan's gonna rock his scar one day. Just like this teenager.

I went home and ate the best bean and cheese nachos I've ever had.


  1. Oh my goodness! That was wonderful! It's amazing how things happen when you need them to the most! I was so happy to read this!!!!

  2. Lisa, you are so brave -- you're a rockstar to me! What an awesome exchange. If it had been me, I just know I would've left kicking myself for not saying anything. BTW, I LOVE Nopalitos! Can't believe how long it's been there! Thanks for the tear and the smile.

  3. What an awesome story. God is watching out for you and telling you in no uncertain terms that it's going to be okay. How cool is that? Sheridan will definitely rock his scar someday!

  4. I'm so glad this encounter worked out for you. What a great story! Sorry about the last time...my fault!

    Jenny T

  5. YEAH!!!!!! Isn't that amazing?!?! This was an exchange planned by the big man upstairs who knew what you needed...and you took that opportunity and made it golden. I'm so proud of you and I told you before...Sheridan will most definitely ROCK his scar! :)!!!

  6. I love this story. I'm so glad you found the nerve to go and talk with him. I wish I were as brave!

  7. Wow! What an awesome story. Thanks for sharing your encounter with us. I've always wanted to approach other parents too when I see they have a kid with DS but I don't have the guts. I'll think of you the next time I'm out and about and run into someone who has a kid with DS and maybe I'll find the courage to say something. :-)

  8. Lisa - you were meant to meet them!!!

    Can I tell you that I am in tears right now at reading what he said to you because the whole thing about the wires and everything is so vivid in my mind 3 years later. (I shared my story on my blog a few weeks go and still cry each time I look at the pictures!!!!).

    Sheridan is in my prayers and you guys are in my thoughts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is going to rock that scar! =)

  9. What a fantastic story! Sheridan will be rocking his scar one day too, and once you get past the surgery it's all UP hill. I'm so glad this Dad was willing to talk to you and had such a positive story too. I LOVE that the son came out to show you his scar. Cool, cool. :-)

  10. Lisa, I love you. Thank you for being in my life and sharing Sheridan with me. Thank you too for sharing your journey as a mom and for being a brave woman and mom to live life to the fullest and to take risks.

  11. oh wow what a story! Sounds like you were right where you were supposed to be - that you were supposed to meet and talk to this man and his son!

  12. so cute! And YES, I love love LOVE **that** smile! Sheridan is totally going to rawk the scar ;)

  13. You made me cry! I'm sitting here at work with tears in my eyes. It is so amazing to me how God puts people in our lives at just the right moments!

  14. Lisa,
    Thanks for the nice words on my post yesterday. This is a beautiful story - I really have learned that coincidences do not exist and things happen for a reason - thus meeting Eric today. I am glad I will have more time to catch up on all the incredible stories of all the kids with down syndrome. Yet another thing that is meant to happen!

  15. I am so inspired...in so many ways. This was so great! It is always so uplifting to read about the wonderful people out there. Your opening line to them.......wow! I may just try that simple approach! :)

  16. Amazing post!! You're right, I DO know that smile! The one that says, 'You are not alone. I've been where you are. We're in the same club!!" Thank you for sharing your honest emotions.

  17. AWESOME! i am so glad you went over to talk to this dad and his son!!! i am so happy he was able to reassure you about the surgery and i love that the boy was so proud of his scar!!!! whitney is rocking her scar too!!! it is beautiful!!!

  18. Omg, my eyes are tearing up. I'm so glad you spoke to him. My daughter (about to turn 4) had her OHS at 4 months old. It sounds like that father said all the same things to you that I would have told you. Your little guy is adorable. I just found your blog through Chromosomally Enhanced. I'll be back!