Quiet courage is something I’ve embraced only recently. I spent much of my life trying to be someone who is not quite me. I viewed my introspective, contemplative nature as a problem to fix, something to overcome and get past. The birth of my now 12-year-old daughter Cassidy—my fiery, spirited, and beyond inspiring child—woke me up and catalyzed a journey of personal discovery and brilliant challenge. She was my tipping point, allowing me to tap into my deeply rooted courage and resilience—a beautiful ferocity that I finally own. I see those qualities in me because they are reflected in her on a daily basis.
The impact of Cassidy is profound in every aspect of my life. From her first day in this world, nothing has come close in demanding me to step into my quiet strength. Cassidy has endured more in her 12 years on earth than most people have to withstand in a lifetime. I feel blessed to traverse this path with her and her 9-year-old brother, Finnian.
Cassidy surprised me from the get-go by being born with an undiagnosed severe heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). Essentially, she was born without the left side of her heart (she has two chambers instead of four). She underwent her first open heart surgery at 6 days old, and by the time she was 3½ years old, she had undergone three complex open-heart surgeries and had a pacemaker implanted. In total, she’s had four heart surgeries, multiple cardiac catheterizations, and countless other medical interventions. Her disease is a part of her, but not nearly all of her.
Brute force and gregariousness play no role in how I work with Cassidy’s healthcare team. Relationship building, trust, and equal respect are at the foundation of how I interact with her team and endlessly advocate for her. These are some of the skills I associate with my introverted self. In fact, a few months after Cassidy’s third surgery (after nearly three months in the hospital), I was invited to work at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (where Cassidy receives all her treatment), mentoring other families who are on similar paths and serving on various committees to make the hospital more family-friendly. I’ve gone on to become a certified professional life coach, and at least a portion of my practice will be dedicated to helping families of special needs children to traverse the medical, professional, and personal obstacle course of this life to find the opportunities and hope amid the muck.
I have endless gratitude for Cassidy for a great many reasons, not the least of which is that through her own quiet acts of bravery and courage, she allows me to see the quiet storm that is Gwynne Nell Corrigan.