This Warrior is a Child

I’m breaking protocol for a second and posting about my daughter on my blog. She has a separate page on my website, but it felt right to post a message to Clara here.

Clara has been through a lot in her 6 years of life. She is medically fragile, and some years it seems as though she spends more time in the hospital than home. She is way braver than me. And, she has a way better attitude than me. So this letter is to Clara. She is not just my daughter. She is also my hero.

My Beautiful Clara, I am writing this to you while I sit next to you in the hospital. You are sleeping, and I am standing guard. Child Life just came in to bring you a tea set, but you were too tired to play. I went to the vending machine and got your favorite cookies. Sadly, you were in too much pain to eat. So I’m watching you sleep, thinking my deep thoughts and wishing I could somehow take this all away from you.

You have faced every life-threatening emergency with such courage…and good manners. Many times I have been standing my ground as a Mama Bear against doctors who don’t listen or maybe just don’t care. Meanwhile, I often hear you with a soft, trembling, weak voice thanking the nurses for giving you an IV. You barely have the strength to speak, yet you use your strength to show gratitude. I’m the one who should learn from YOUR example.

Together, we have endured many many trips to the hospital. We have fought together, as a team. We have endured you getting several hundred IVs. You are always scared of the pain, yet you willingly give your hand to the nurse. We have the same dialogue every time…

“Mom! Help me!”

“Look me in my eyes and borrow my courage. I have extra courage, and I will share it with you right now. Just look at mommy.”

“But it’s going to hurt!”

“It might. But there is nothing we can’t get through together. I’m here and I won’t leave you.”

“But I’m scared!”
“Scared is good. It means that you are still alive! And courage doesn’t mean that you don’t feel scared of the IV. Courage means you give your hand to the nurse even though you are scared .”


“But it’s not safe!”

“Then let me scoop you up and hold you close. Pretend I am a blanket. Wrap yourself up tightly in your Mommy blanket until you feel safe.”

Sitting here in the quiet watching you fight for your life has brought things full circle for me. I have the deafening sound of silence blaring in my ears. It’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. I feel scared. I feel alone. It doesn’t feel safe. I’m worried. And for once I believe I would prefer your IV alarm and vital stats monitor to be going off loudly and simultaneously. The noise is more comfortable than the silence sometimes.

You know that extra courage I gave you when you needed it? I may need some of it back. Can I look in your eyes and have some of your courage? I’m scared. Can I crawl in the hospital bed with you and pull the blanket over both of our heads? Can we hide there from your diagnosis together for a minute? There is nothing we can’t get through together. But if you don’t get better, I won’t have you to walk me through the broken heart. Losing you would hurt. A lot. And the pain would be a reminder that I’m alive…but you are not.

When I first met you in the NICU I promised you something. You were hooked up to so many machines. I was scared. Through tear-filled eyes I promised you that I would fight for you. I would never stop fighting for you. But, you needed to fight. “Come on, little one. FIGHT!”

I have made true on my promise. I will never stop fighting for you. But I will also never stop being in awe of your kindness and good manners toward others even though you are fighting for your life. I will also never stop fighting back the tears when you are finally sleeping. For in the quiet I remember two things… how far you have come, and how far I have to go.

Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
I’m strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that I come running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because his armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
I never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at his feet

They don’t know that I come running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Gary Valencian

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