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Debbie’s baby sister isn’t growing. She needs a heart operation. Fear hovers over the family.
I’m enjoying an after-school snack when Mom comes home from the cardiologist with some different news. “Dr. Arnold wants to operate on Krista’s heart by the first of April,” she tells me with a bright smile. “He wants her to get up to ten pounds, and he thinks she should make it there next month.”
Mom bustles around the kitchen. The rattle of silverware grabbed from the drawers and the clatter of plates lifted from their shelves cause me to look up from my homework spread out on the table.
“How much did she weigh today?”
“Eight pounds, seven ounces.” She sets two pots on the stove. Bang, bang.
I do the math in my head as she yanks vegetables out of the refrigerator. At one month, Krista weighed seven pounds. Now past two months, she’s not yet nine pounds. “She hasn’t even gained two pounds since she was born.” I dip my celery stalk into the peanut butter jar. “Can she gain almost two more in another month?”
Mom’s cheerful expression crumples. “I don’t think she’ll gain that much either, but the doctor says he’ll operate anyway.”
She pauses from slicing a tomato to wipe the tear rolling down her cheek. “The hole in her heart only makes her weaker each day. She can’t get stronger until they sew it up.”
Dropping the knife on the cutting board, she runs out of the kitchen.
Tears drop onto my homework. Tears for my mom whose heart is breaking and for my baby sister who cannot grow because her heart is already broken.