Every year I send out valentines instead of Christmas cards. It’s not that I do not like Christmas – I do, it is my favorite holiday – it is just that I cannot get my act together between the holidays and birthdays. If you are a reader recipient, yours will be late. They are going to the post office today and they are boring, boring, boring. Any creativity I have has gone into the blog. In years past, my valentines have led friends to believe I have a drinking problem (I don’t), have underappreciated my beloved (true), and have become a rightwing religious nut (all depends on your perspective). So this year, the less said, the better.

The main reason, however, that our family sends valentines is that in 1997 Angelgirl was diagnosed with a genetic condition.

My father, upon seeing her for the first time, said, “I hope she does not have Marfan syndrome.”

“Why would you say that?” I asked, bursting out in sobs. How dare he think my daughter was less than perfect? I was sitting at the dinner table with bags of frozen vegetables on my engorged chest, miserable beyond miserable, waiting for my milk to come in. Somehow, I knew he was right. The human heart has the capacity, at certain moments, to recognize the truth.

“Because of her long fingers,” he replied. “But people with Marfan syndrome can also have heart problems.”

“Didn’t Abraham Lincoln have that?” I said

“Uh huh.” And that is all he said until she was diagnosed three years later.

I, however, kept asking doctors if they thought my brand new baby had Marfan Syndrome and they all thought I was a nervous Nelly, a wacky first time mother with nothing but hormones and time on her hands to obsess about such things. They were wrong.

Maybe later I will write about the doctors, good and bad. For sure, I will write about retail therapy at some point and other Marfan related issues, just not today. Today my Angel valentine is alive and well and headed to a math competition in Saõ Paulo, my cute husband comes home tonight bearing Swiss chocolate, Buddy’s backpack is loaded with valentine Nerds, and Sunshine is dressed all in pink, heart knee socks pulled up high.

I got most of my valentines this morning. Yours will just be a little late, a dose of love when you’ve forgotten all about the holiday.

For more on Marfan, go to and don’t forget to Have a Heart.



Filed under People

8 responses to “Valentina

  1. Winnie

    Happy Valentine’s to you, your cute chocolate toting husband and all those cleverly monikered offspring. Paper valentines are on their way via the USP.

  2. I was there for the birth of this baby. I remember holding her long little fingers. This little baby is growing up to be a beautiful woman, in the wider sense of the word. While subjected to these medical issues and some other problems the rest of her life, not the least of which is buying shoes, she exceeds in school, beauty, common sense,and compassion.


    And just for spite, there is a spelling error in this piece.

  4. expatprincess

    Right on, Radish! Am going now to fix it!!! Quel horror!

    Look forward to receiving the paper valentines, Winnie!

  5. Laura Lopez

    Heartily agree with the other posts that “Angel” has clearly not let any pesky genetic condition get in the way of her life.

    And Expatprincess, you do have a way with words, you know.

  6. expatprincess

    Why, thank you, Laura! Give your kids a smooch from us. Tell your son that Buddy gave away the Nerds for free today.

  7. Expat:
    This post made me cry, truly, and I am at work! Your Angel IS an angel. She is wise beyond her years, an old soul. I wrote about broken hearts today. Yours is so much more uplifting. Thank you for reminding me that while romantic love is mutable, TRUE LOVE IS STATIC!

  8. missionary girl

    A week late, but Happy Valentine’s Day!! I love your valentines cards (boring or not). What a great reminder of love, family and friends and the support we can give each other. With much love from our family to yours!!

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