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9 Mar

The Heart is a Muscle

This is Tanner:

Tanner is Baby’s cousin. He lives on the other side of the country, so he has never met Baby. But he’s her biggest fan.

When Baby was still tucked away in Mommy’s belly, preparing for her takeover of Mommy and Daddy’s lives and the Known and Unknown Universe, Tanner was preparing for her arrival.

He designed an airplane, so that he could fly to Toronto to visit her, and then bring her back to British Columbia so that they could play together there.

Unfortunately, he kept the drafts of his designs on the kitchen wall, where they were unceremoniously erased by Someone Who Didn’t Understand (another bad mother). Crayon, it turns out, is an unreliable medium for creating Important Documents.

But Tanner had a back-up plan. He would make a wish. He would wish himself to Toronto to visit his baby cousin.

And as it happens, Tanner does have a wish to use, however he wants.

Because Tanner probably isn’t going grow up, and little kids like Tanner get to have at least one wish that will come true, because there are only so many dreams that can be pursued and fulfilled in a lifetime that only stretches as far as childhood.

Tanner has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. It’s what is referred to as a ‘degenerative muscular disorder.’ What this means: Tanner’s muscles are gradually wasting away. Soon he’ll be in a wheelchair. Eventually, his muscles won’t work at all.

Lungs are muscle. So is the heart. One day, Tanner’s heart and lungs will stop working. And then he’ll die.

DMD is a genetic disorder that only (with very rare exceptions) affects boys. And it’s the littlest of boys – the diagnosis usually comes when a child is between 2 and 5 years of age. Boys with DMD are lucky to live into their teens; only in the rarest cases does such a boy reach adulthood. DMD always kills. There is no cure.

A wish is a very small thing to give such a child. But it’s also everything: it’s magic, it’s dreams, it’s the promise that if you want something badly enough, sometimes, just sometimes, you can reach that thing. It’s something to look forward to. It’s hope.

And our precious Tanner, the little boy who loves Baby with all of his bravely pounding heart, wanted to use his one special life-affirming wish to meet her.

We told Tanner not to use his Big Wish to come meet Baby. Baby will come to him. She doesn’t know about wishes yet, but she’s going to learn.

Tanner’s going to teach her.


This week, until St. Patrick’s Day, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (USA) is running a Shamrock Drive. You can find out about it here.

You can find out more about how to support the MDA in the US and Canada here and here.

And to support making wishes come true for children like Tanner, look here.

Please pass this information along. Little boys with weak muscles need our strong muscles. And the heart is the strongest one we have.