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Kerri Kava, Published June 10 2013

Parenting Perspectives: Find support for good times and bad

Like most families who have a child with a disability, we have a support system.

Because Williams syndrome is so rare, most of the time that support comes online through our Facebook group. Whether sharing a new food idea to deceptively sneak protein into our picky little eaters, posting something we should all know about or just a milestone brag post, no one understands like a fellow WS mom.

It’s this very understanding that has taken hold of my heart.

A little boy who lives with WS and shares the same name as my son, Carter, passed away last week after a heart surgery.

He was about the same age as my Carter and had a giant smile. Why people with WS are so happy, gregarious and loving, the world may never know.

I do know today heaven is a more smiley place. And it most definitely became more filled with love.

Individuals living with WS typically have heart complications. Most newborn babies have a heart surgery to correct pulmonary stenonsis. While the heart surgery itself typically goes well, the anesthesia is always a concern.

When you come out of anesthesia, your heart has to pump more blood and work harder to wake up. With a weakened heart and low tone because of the missing elastin gene, sometimes it’s just too much for those with WS to muster.

I feel so blessed that my Carter has a healthy heart. We have been informed it has a small amount of extra muscle tissue, which is evidence his heart works harder than it is supposed to, but nothing that would lead to surgery.

We are due for a new echocardiogram; I guess it’s time to get it scheduled. A routine heart exam? No sweat. For my friend’s children who undergo multiple surgeries, my heart goes out to you for your strength and faith.

With the ending of a little heartbeat comes the shattered heart of a parent, grandma, brother, sister, aunt, uncle and friends.

Death is hard, no matter the age and regardless of a disability. However, when you have families who learn together, grow together and rejoice in milestones together, you also mourn together.

With that, I leave a letter of tribute to Carter, from my son Carter Kava:

Dear Carter,

I heard you went to heaven? Is it really true? Could it be that it’s sunny there?

It’s gloomy down here today because we’re sad you left us too soon. I might have met you or sang with you or danced with you at WSA camp when we were bigger.

I might have shared my drum set with you or shown you how to collect the best rocks. I probably would have hugged you, and I definitely would have smiled at you.

I understand you’re resting now. My mom says you were tired and went to meet Jesus. I know from Bible verses that he’s pretty special. I know he’ll love, hug and take great care of you. Though, you should tell him to send some angels to your momma because I think she’ll need a couple of big ones tonight.

Our hearts all miss you, friend. God bless you and thank you for making our world a better place. Although I never met you, your memory lives on in our hearts forever. I’ll release a balloon for you, buddy.

Your pal,

Carter Kava

Kerri Kava can be reached at kerrikava18@gmail.com