Today is not sad, it’s Tommy’s birthday!

My eldest would be 26 years old today!  Imagine, I am the mother of a 26 year old – not actually, but I could be.  He was born on a Monday, after a pretty normal Sunday except my water broke and I had to go to the hospital.  About 20 hours later, born by C-section was beautiful dark haired Tommy, named after his Daddy and his Papa.  I could see he was beautiful even without my glasses!

For those few hours in recovery all was right with the world.  My husband went home for some sleep and to make some phone calls (no cell phones back then!).  As the story goes, the doctors became concerned that he was not “pinking up” and called my husband back saying they were going to transport him to Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.  My husband called our church and they dispatched our wonderful assistant pastor, Father Zaepfel.  Tommy was baptized in the recovery room at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, New York. 

After some complications (the equivalent of a stroke in an adult on 7/3) Tommy was diagnosed with transposition of the great vessels on July 4, 1984.  VERY long story short we transported him by air ambulance to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where my sister-in-law was just beginning her internship and he was scheduled for a new surgery (performed fewer than 10 times in the US) on his two week birthday.

The surgery was successful and likely is why we had him with us for nearly four years.  I can never thank the folks at CHOP enough for their gift to my family.  Tommy developed a seizure disorder likely due to the event (a bit of a fit as described by a British intern at Children’s Buffalo) on July 3.  He also had Cerebral Palsy for probably the same reason – not good to deprive the brain of oxygen, you know?

Tommy died on May 14, 1988 after being in a coma from a massive and lengthy seizure for almost 4 months.  I spent years trying to make sense of it but that can never be done.  The good news is, even though it will never make sense, I have allowed joy back in my life and I live it every day as if it were the best one I will ever have.

I am a mom.

Life is good!

Jude Russo Caserta

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