Dad Gets Tattoo of Daughter's Open-Heart 'Zipper' Scar
If, by chance, you ordered masks at the beginning of the pandemic during the great USPS debacle, and you reached out to our customer service team, more than likely, you received a response from Lauren. This is her family and this is their story. This is her “why.” She jumped in to help Brave Gowns when she knew we needed it. She had offered twice and knowing how much she had on her plate, I said, "thank you, but no thank you" for a good two weeks. When she texted the final time, we were at a breaking point with emails and I said, "fine, if you can get in, let's do this." I had been locked out of my email account for an hour. I remember thinking, "good luck!" Within five seconds she said, "Now what?" She was a Godsend. Through that, we have maintained a friendship. Towards the beginning, I said something "Pollyanna-ish" to which she replied, "Ok, Summer, maybe you're supposed to show me how that faith of yours works, because with what we've been through with Everly, I don't know what I feel."
Over the last few years, we have had the blessing to watch her children grow and really get to know their family. Jack is Everly’s big brother. He is a silly guy that loves accents, and has sacrificed so much to protect Everly through COVID. Everly is…well, perfectly Everly, exactly as she should be. She had her first open heart surgery before she was three-days-old. She will have two to three more before she is an adult, so her strong-willed spirit is a blessing.She Everly’s mom, Lauren, is Miss Do It All. When school went online due to the pandemic, within three days, she had a full classroom set up in their dining room with chalkboards, desks, play areas and more. That is Lauren. She's the "make every day special" type of mom who even celebrates half birthdays, because she understands what a gift each milestone is. They also foster failed two dogs this year, so now they have four dogs. In other words, besides protecting Everly from COVID and with her normal doctor check-ups, I’m sure Lauren is exhausted, but she keeps going and then, does even more. She advocates hard for CHD and I lost count of all the organizations she helps awhile back, but of course, today she also just spearheaded a Chicagoland Brave Gown campaign with seven other CHD families. Ironically, I’m not even to the point of this post yet…Everly’s dad, Matt. We have watched him transform from a quirky, funny guy to a dad that leaves me in awe. He is such a hard worker and, no matter what he faces, he shows up at the end of the day and plays with the kids second to none. From hide and seek, to dance parties, to movie nights and family walks, Matt is always in the midst of it. I didn’t see Matt getting a tattoo ever, but of course, if he did, that is exactly how he’d do it. He'd pick a design to make Everly feel special. I'm tempted to write: "not a design for himself," but that's not entirely true, because if you knew Matt, Everly's badge of courage, her zipper was exactly what he would have chosen time and time again.
That’s what led me to write this post. Knowing the story from behind the scenes, you would know first hand that they would never do this for notoriety or for a story. That idea wasn't even entertained in their heads. They did this for all the right reasons...their love for their family and their love for their little CHD hero Everly. Lauren & Matt, if you're reading this, this is why I believe in the good. I was always told that the thing that we are meant to be will drop us to our knees on many occasions. Maybe it's not the way we had hoped. We know Everly has more heart surgeries to come. May their "zippers" remind them of their healing, memories, and the courage of they endured together. Oh and Lauren, if you're reading this, your story is the exact reason I always choose faith. When you do things with your heart and with the right intentions, the good you put out, will alway comes back to you.
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