Valerie's guardian angel

You may have never seen your guardian angel in the flesh.  We’ve seen ours.  At Children’s Health in Dallas, a heart transplant coordinator is the first point of contact for anything – ANYTHING - health related.  Your transplant kid has an illness that concerns you? Contact the Transplant Coordinator.  One of the siblings MIGHT have been exposed to something contagious?  Contact the Transplant Coordinator.  Keep in mind that Valerie had learned much about caring for sick kids over two decades, but any uncertainty still took her to our guardian angel - Susan Daneman, Transplant Coordinator at Children’s Health.  No day of the week, no time of day was Susan not available to consult with Dr. Val. 

This is our family’s love letter to Susan.

Susan,

You’ve heard me say it for years, but you may not fully appreciate what “my wife’s guardian angel” means to us.

As large as Children’s Health is, as many who have cared for Trenton, no one has cared for our WHOLE family the way you have.  The birth and growth of Allison.  The growth and graduation of Austin.  You know about it and you are one of the family.  It is not just about Trenton, and in many ways, it has much to do with Valerie.  When Trenton stays in the hospital, Valerie stays with him to care for him.  My job is to care for Val, but my ability is often limited, and that’s where you step in.

When Valerie needed to sleep at night, whether at home or in a hospital room, your calm reassurance during uncertain times provided relaxation.  Stupid questions were never stupid questions to you.

On a late Sunday evening, Valerie didn’t hesitate to call you when Trent was shaking and pale with a high fever.  You heard Valerie’s voice on the phone and remained calm when Valerie wanted to panic.  Valerie told YOU what was best that night, and you knew, better than anyone, when Dr. “Mom” knew more than Dr. “Cardiology.”

From cardio to chemo, still a guardian angel

Although chemo is not your area, you took an interest and checked on us anyway.  Your presence gave the setting a familiarity which reminded us we had survived the journey before, and we could survive it again.

You know the details.  You know Trenton’s personality, his impatience and confidence, and you how to talk WITH him rather than AT him.  You were on his side and he was on yours.  You became his mother, his sister, his friend, his advocate, his literal bodyguard.  You have been there for over two decades, until the day he left…and I thank God I was present that day.

The day we said good-bye

You were there on a Saturday morning when we said good-bye to Children’s.  Trent was ventilated, unable to speak as the team prepped him for transport to Baylor hospital; but you communicated with him, and I watched closely, knowing this was a significant time in our lives.  You promised Trenton that you would attend his college graduation (we still have the promise Trent had you sign).  You sounded positive as you looked him in the eye, trying to smile while tears welled in your eyes.  You even locked pinkies with him.  The image of you telling Trenton good-bye is burned in my memory.

So many people at Children’s Health have had an impact in our lives.  So many have stuck Trent, scanned him, x-rayed him, bandaged him, cut into him, taken his blood (and any other fluids they could find), all out of concern for him.  We are so (Still) thankful for them; but when I think of Children’s, when I think of the hand we grab when we’re on the ledge, the face of Children’s, the “mother” of Children’s is you.

Now that you know this…no pressure.  There are more families at Children’s in need of a guardian angel, and we’re glad to share ours, because for Susan Daneman, and other guardian angels on earth, I’m still thankful.

P.S. I would like to hear about your guardian angel on earth.  Please share your thoughts in the comments section, and pass this to others to do the same.