Friday, January 7, 2011

An Arranged Friendship by Stacey Lihn

Most of you have heard of an arranged marriage, but Zoe was in for an arranged friendship. Fair? Perhaps not. But don't "moms know best?"

Shortly after learning of Zoe's diagnosis, in utero, I went straight to the internet. I researched HLHS and found other heart moms online. Through the wonders of Facebook, I met a handful of heart moms close in gestation and delivering at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Before we actually met in person, Mia's mom, Jenn and I felt like we already "knew" each other. As our friendship grew, so did Mia and Zoe's...they just didn't know it yet.

Mia was born on April 29, 2010. Zoe was born on May 11, 2010. Both born with one functioning heart ventricle. Mia, the older of the two friends, led the way. She underwent her Norwood first and set the bar high, very high. Mia was a "rockstar" at CHOP. She recovered in record time (no joke) and discharged in 3 weeks time.

After Zoe's surgery and discharge, Jenn and I communicated often (via email, texts, phone, you-name-it.) Heart mommy support knows no boundaries!

Growing up as a child with only half a heart was not going to be easy. Jenn and I realized that, and hence, Zoe and Mia's arranged friendship was born. Mia and Zoe were already being booked for Florida beach vacations and annual trips. We knew they'd need each other as they grew and faced similar experiences. They were destined to be BFFs.

On July 25, 2010, Zoe lost her friend. I met Mia on more than one occasion, but Zoe never had the opportunity. Sure, they laid in the same hospital just a few hundred feet from each other; but they were busy battling HLHS.

The day I heard the news of Mia's passing is forever etched in my mind.

Can you imagine your best friend dying? It's heart-breaking to even think about. Someday, I'll have to break the news to Zoe that her friend, Mia, died, just shy of her 3 month birthday. Despite this, Zoe will know Mia and will grow to know her twin brother, Madden.

Many of you know of Mia, or have seen this picture of Zoe, honoring and remembering Mia on her 3 month birthday, just 3 days after her passing.

Mia's parents, Jennifer and Ray Marrone, have made it their mission to continue Mia's fight and fight for Zoe and all other families affected by congenital heart defects. They've founded the Mia Marrone Heart Foundation. One of their first, of many accomplishments, is the Mia Marrone Heart Charm. Mia's Charm is a beautiful reminder and awareness piece for heart families and those affected by CHDs. Zoe already has hers which she loves (and apparently they taste good too.)

Zoe (and I) will wear Mia's Charm with pride - to honor and remember Mia and all of the CHD angels and warriors.

If you love the Mia Charm as much as we do, you can check it out in detail through The Mia Marrone Heart Foundation, print an order formhere or by emailing a request to HLHS.HeartHugsForMia@yahoo.comif you do not have a Facebook account.

And a few more from Zoe's photoshoot...

And, of course, all of this, in remembrance of Mia Grace Marrone. We miss you little one.

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