Emotional Porn – Welcome to Mommy’s World

When I was a little girl my dad had a lot of “motorcycle” magazines.   Really these were just porn with motorcycles as the accessories.  I would sometimes sneak peaks out of curiosity and for the wonderful sensation of doing something bad without getting caught.  I didn’t so much look at them for their content as for the knowledge that I wasn’t supposed to be looking at all.

A half an hour ago, my son, aged 9, called me down to my own home office. From my big black leather(ish) chair with his little legs crossed under him, he proclaimed,  “Mommy, I cleaned your office for you, and now I am reading your book.”

By cleaning my office he meant that he pushed all the bins of paper I’d madly been sorting in preparation for taxes and post home refinance into the corners of the room.  By reading my book, he meant he was almost done with the first chapter of Heart Warriors, A Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease.   Yes, this is my book –  I wrote it.  But, it is also Liam’s book as he is the main character of this painfully true story.

You can read the first chapter, or most of it in the free preview on Amazon.com or the free preview on Google docs.  In the first chapter, Liam almost dies.  He didn’t quite make it to that point, but he did ask me, “What happened to Charlie?”

Charlie was a little boy right next to Liam in the Cardiac ICU who went home for hospice care.  He was a baby, only 15 months old, about the same age as Liam’s cousin Landon.  His name wasn’t Charlie, but since I couldn’t contact his parents I didn’t want to use his real name in the book or publicly.  I told Liam Charlie’s real name and that he died.  Liam wanted to know Charlie’s birthday and when he died. I had to explain that he must have been born maybe in November of 2004, from what I knew and that I couldn’t know when he died because he went home, but it would have been in 2006.

Liam cried, a lot.  He cried because he doesn’t remember Charlie, and because “It’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair,” and he’s entirely right – it’s not fair. It’s reality though.  I told him that it’s not fair and that’s why I work so hard to fight CHD, not just for him but for Charlie and all the kids.  I also told Liam to cry all he wanted, all he needed, and that he was right that it isn’t fair and that it’s ok to cry about it.  As a society, we’re always telling kids not to cry, but he can cry all he wants and needs to for Charlie and for himself.

I don’t really think my book is emotional porn.  It’s not remotely gratuitous and it’s not at all self-indulgent.  It’s very honest, and I never pulled any punches when I wrote it.  Sadly, Liam just took a walloping.

I never told him he couldn’t read the book. I only told him he could read it when he’s older.  He’s an amazingly good reader, as is Moira, so he had no trouble tearing through those first twenty pages or so, and he was engrossed.  I suppose if someone writes a book about you, you can’t help but be curious.  I gently took the book away and then asked him to put it back in the pile.  I have a pile of my books to sell (but I find I’ve given away most of them).  He bookmarked his spot.  We decided we’d ask his therapist if it was OK for him to keep reading it.  I’ll let her make that call.  It is, after all, his story.  He was really proud of himself for how much he read, and I’m really proud of him for how much he taught me.

Anyway, Liam’s indulging in a bubble bath after a good cry . . . maybe it is emotional porn? I don’t know but I couldn’t finish off this night without Moira complaining that I wrote about Charlie more than I wrote about her in the book.  Seriously child? You haven’t even read the book.  But I digress, one child suffers the truth of his life and the other child suffers in the shadow of it.  This is the challenge of living with a life threatening disease for a child and his family.  We keep rising to the challenge, but sometimes it catches us all off guard.


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