Last Thursday I slipped out of town to attend the wedding of the daughter of one of my dearest friends. We've been friends for half of my life. Since I was eighteen to be exact. Over the years I have watched her daughter grow into a beautiful young lady and Saturday I had the honor of watching her become a bride. It was an amazing experience. So beautiful, so emotional, so precious. This morning I drove home.
I spent 4 days away from home, setting up, attending, and cleaning up after the wedding. I have NEVER spent that much time separated from my sweet Ashley. Although I enjoyed the event and the honor of being part of the team who helped create the fairytale experience, it was some of the hardest days I've ever spent. I would catch myself hearing the voice of my sweet girl. Her cries, her laughter, her humming. It could happen to me at anytime of the day or night. There were even times when I thought I heard her cry and I would stop arranging center pieces and walk away to check on Ash. I felt so silly a few steps on my way as I would snap back too and realize she was miles and miles away happily playing in our home. It was one of the oddest experiences I think I've ever had. I lay my head down at night to try and sleep and the sound of phantom alarms would keep me awake all night. I got up, walked through my sister's home searching for Ashley Kate and her IV pole to silence them. Again, I would catch myself and realize she wasn't with me. She was home with her daddy. Everything was fine. I missed her so much. Deeply, deeply missed her. There was an emptiness and an ache inside of me the entire time.
Last night I spent one of the longest nights of my life. The nightmares in combination of the phantom sounds haunted me for hours. I couldn't shake the images of memories past and the hurts of transplant. I would close my eyes and see the horrors of our past experiences, hear the codes go out across the hospital floors, find myself sobbing as if we were back in those moments begging for the life of our Ashley. I would wake and cry uncontrollably realizing we are going to be walking the same path that I was dreaming about. How have we ended up back in this place? How are we going to live this part over again?
There are moments in life that you sometimes wish you could relive because they are just that wonderful. There are also moments in life that I would never, ever want to experience again and yet our future holds them for our sweet girl if we are some of the lucky ones who do in fact receive that call. There is such a turmoil of emotion swirling in my head again and again on a daily basis. Every night as I close my eyes the images of my daughter fighting for her every breath return to me.
Ashley is so alive today. She is so happy, so content, so amazing. She has joy in her eyes and her days are filled with happiness instead of pain. If this life of hers is to go on she must return at some point and re-enter the fight for her life. I can hardly believe we are having to start over.
I don't know when we will have Ashley listed again. I don't have the answer. Dave and I don't have peace about returning for transplant at this time. We seem to find more peace with the idea of allowing her to enjoy her days at home. At least for today. We WILL list her for transplant. We don't know how much time we have in which to make our decision, but for now we are waiting and watching her grow.
I'm so very happy to be home sitting a room away from her and hearing the sounds of her laughter filtering in here from the play room. She has a new dinosaur. Its the ultimate of all dinosaur toys ever made. Her Aunt Kathy found it for her and knew she had to have it. Needless to say, she loves it. The roars are mixed with giggles and they happen to be the sweetest sounds I think I've ever heard.