“Look, Mummy! I’m the winner!”
The look of pure joy and delight on my daughter’s face as she crossed the finish line last was so beautiful to see. For her, sports day was all about taking part – not coming first, but just being there with her friends and joining in.
For me, it was a very proud mummy moment, albeit a slightly bittersweet one too. It was one of those moments where the reality of how Jessica’s heart does affect her hits home for me. I see her running around at home, doing all the things that I would expect her to be doing at her age and I almost forget the fact that she only has half a working heart. It is only if she over-exerts herself and is significantly bluer than usual, or more breathless, that I notice it. But out on the playing fields, with other children her age, the difference is clear.
As the other children crossed the finish line, Jessica was still only halfway there, but determined to keep going as everyone cheered her on for those last few metres. She was unable to keep up with everyone else’s pace. But she was there, taking part and loving it all. It might have been a moment of realising how her heart affects her but, as is often the case, it was also coupled with a moment of seeing how her zest for life shines through.
She did have a little wobble when sports day first started and needed lots of cuddles from Mummy. She wanted me to hold her hand and run with her until the last race when she felt more confident to go up without me. I quite enjoyed taking part in the races with her though! Sophie also wanted to get involved and tried to join in once or twice before she finally fell asleep and had a little nap out in the sunshine.
This time four years ago, I was just three days away from the pioneering in-utero surgery that would give Jessica a chance of life. She has been on quite a journey in those last four years and seeing her at her sports day made me realise again just how far she has come and how utterly blessed I am to be able to enjoy these moments.
My little miracle is certainly a winner in my eyes and always will be. I hope that she will always be able to hold on to that sense of joy that comes from taking part because there are so many things that are much more important than taking first place.