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To the Mom Who Just Heard the Words, 'Your Son Had a Stroke'

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Dear Jamie of 2009,

This afternoon you are going to get hit with news that will drop you to your knees and take your breath away. This afternoon you will find out your son, Aidan, had a stroke. You will hear those words: “Your son had a stroke.”

I know you thought as long as you guys got through his heart surgery, everything was going to be OK. It will be OK. Just not how you thought.

So much is going to change. There are so many things you need to know. You will be sad. You will cry. You will be angry.

Your life will be filled with doctor’s appointments and therapy. You will do everything you can, and your son’s life will be better for it. Trust your instincts. Trust yourself. Know you are not perfect, but you are doing your best. Know the doctors do not know everything, and frankly, there are no easy answers.

Although things will come harder and slower to Aidan, every accomplishment will be that much sweeter. Celebrate those victories. Try not to let the setbacks knock you down.

You will blame yourself. And you shouldn’t. There is nothing you could have done. Let go of the guilt. It does nothing for you or Aidan.

You will get completely caught up taking care of Aidan and everyone else around you. Take care of yourself. If you don’t, you will never be able to take care of anyone else.

You will lose friends and family members along the way, but you will make many new friends. Friends who have children with disabilities. Many of them parents of children who have had strokes. Some of them you will never meet face-to-face, but they will still touch your life daily. You will hear stories of children who have had a stroke and lose their life. You will hear stories of children who had a stroke and go on to accomplish so much.

You will worry constantly what the future holds for Aidan. Don’t. It doesn’t help. He will continue to grow and surprise you, and you won’t know what the future holds until you get there.

Above all, love your precious baby who is a complete miracle and gift.

boy smiling in a plaid shirt with trees in the background

And don’t forget to love yourself.

Jamie of 2016

mom and son smiling for the camera in a park

A version of this post originally appeared on Pediatric Stroke Warriors.

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Originally published: January 26, 2016
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