On Friday, my now not-so-little sister, Mercy, graduated high school.
I'm sure that this will embarrass her if she reads this, but I would like to talk just a little bit about how amazing she is.
Mercy, now 18 years old, was diagnosed in utero with a large diaphragmatic hernia. With this hole in her diaphragm, her internal abdominal organs had migrated upward and prevented her lungs from developing. At the time she was diagnosed, very few children with a defect as severe as hers had survived.
Despite physicians telling them that there was no chance she would survive, my mother decided to carry the baby to term.
However, they had gone to the cemetery to pick out a plot and headstone.
When Mercy was born, she cried. It should have been impossible without developed lungs. But that cry showed that Mercy was a fighter.
She spent months in the hospital. She had her lovely dark curls shaved off for IV placements. She had multiple surgeries to rebuild a diaphragm using her abdominal wall muscles. She was on ECMO. She received sheep surfactant to help with her lung development.
She still has significant scars on her neck, chest, and stomach.
But she is alive.
And she's still a fighter.
Now, she loves costume jewelry and ball gowns. She wants to be an actress. She's fiercely loyal to her friends.
I've been there to see her grow up. I was so glad that I got to see her close this chapter of her life, tears and all.
Good luck with everything, Mercy. We'll be cheering you on like always.