I Can't Die Before My Son
After raising a severely autistic son to adulthood, a single mother’s brush with death raises the horrifying question of what will happen to him when she's gone.
For several months Diana Rivera knew something was wrong. She felt a dull ache in her heart. Walking up her stairs became a monumental effort. At night she would drop like a stone onto her bed, winded and exhausted.
Her heart had always been a problem. Years ago, she had been told that it had a strange rhythm, a faint clicking sound and murmur. But this felt different. Her heart was beating too fast, the dull ache would sometimes turn into a sharper pain that she could not ignore.
One cold January day, doctors told her the prognosis: Her heart valve needed to be opened. It should have been round like a straw so blood could flow into the left side of her heart. Instead, her heart valve was as flat as a piece of paper. If they didn’t do open heart surgery soon, she could die.
As she drove home from the doctor’s office sobbing, she was franticly eager to see her son, Anthony, to hug and kiss him. That always made her feel better. But she had to get ahold of herself, wipe the tears, calm dow…
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