Wednesday, June 16, 2010

under toad

In high school, there was this book that my friends and I really liked, The World According to Garp by John Irving. Something from this book that has stayed with me was The Under Toad. In the story, it was a family inside joke. They would go to the beach and warn the kids, "look out for the under tow". The kids misheard and referred to it as "the under toad". Watch out for the under toad! For the father in the story, this was a phrase that highlighted his anxiety, anxiety specifically about mortality. Garp...realized that all these years Walt had been dreading a giant toad, lurking offshore,waiting to suck him under and drag him out to sea. The terrible Under Toad.

This has been us. Life has been great on the surface, but I have felt the under toad hopping around underneath it all. A feeling of dread, of foreboding. Before I get into the toad, I would like to point out that in actuality the surface is all there is. The world as it really is. I wish I knew this in my heart like I do in my head.

Speaking of hearts, at Ramona's 9 month appointment her doctor heard a murmur. Then they heard it again at her 12 month appointment. Yesterday we went to the cardiologist.

I have felt a dark cloud hanging over my head since her 12 month appointment. The idea that she could be sick, seriously sick, had her dad and me very frightened. At first I wasn't too worried,we made the appointment to see a cardiologist and I neatly put it out of my head. Almost. But then I googled heart murmur and clicked on congenital heart defects, and then it was an all out avalanche of worry.

Yesterday, our cardiologist looked into my eyes and said "her heart is fine". I wanted to hug him. Her heart is fine. He said other things, other things about her heart. But more than anything, he wanted me to know her heart is fine.

More than any lesson I am learning, I am second by second seeing that the present is all there is. Her heart was always fine. Who knows what will and won't be fine in the future. Right now is all there is. And really, if we stop thinking, we will see that every moment really is and always has been fine.


  1. The dr.'s also heard a murmur with Brett and we saw a pediatric cardiologist where we learned that he is "fine". It is very scary. I am glad that Ramona is doing well. Although I thoroughly appreciate Dr. Google, I have learned that I should never rely on him when it comes to the serious stuff. :-)

  2. Thank you :)
    I really appreciate "if we stop thinking, we will see that every moment really is and always has been fine."

  3. Three cheers for healthy little girls who get to grow up and be just like mama!

  4. Must be what pediatricians do . . . one was "heard" here too, before it was unheard.

  5. I'm so glad to hear that she and her little heart are fine.

    We too had some scares, but not with the heart, and went to neurologists, geneticists, an endocrinologist, and had multiple tests before being told she is fine.