This month holds some very difficult memories for me. I fight the urge daily to fall apart as something continues to pull me back to the place we sat and wondered how we would ever make it home it with Ashley Kate.
I've tried for the last 7 years to find the beautiful and the blessed among the ugliest moments in this life. Its a daily decision. Sometimes its a moment by moment decision. This month is proving to be a moment by moment struggle to live by that standard. Many days Dave has walked in to find me fighting tears, battling the memory of the worst nightmare I've ever lived, and struggling to stay on top. Its not something I've conquered although we are 2 years out from it.
It only takes a glance across the room at my smiley girl to settle me back into the place of gratitude and beauty I desire to stay in. She is breathtaking at almost 7 years old. Long brown hair, twinkly eyes, mischievous grin. She has a giggle that ripples through the rooms of our home and the sound of it puts a smile across every face here. I seriously never imagined I could love someone so very much.
As the days pass, and the years since ex-plant are now almost enough to add together, I am in awe of the life she has been given since that day. That day where I trembled, and vomited, and cried so hard I thought I might never stop, as I sat in the all too familiar waiting area at UNMC. There was no peace to be found. I had no hope. No idea how we would ever survive another day. The conversations all around us as the team piled in day after day for rounds left me hopeless, shattered, and afraid. The fear that enveloped me at the mere thought of her not coming back home to us was paralyzing. I only wanted her to be 5. It was my hope. My prayer. My focus. We had to make it to 5 and then we would set another goal to make it too.
5 came and went in the halls of that hospital. We pushed our sweet baby down the hall in a huge hospital bed so that our friends and family who had traveled all those hours could catch a glimpse of our beauty. We celebrated that day. Shattered on the inside, but choosing to see the beautiful in the midst of the ugly. Determined to remember she had made it to that 5th birthday and never wanting to have to live with regrets of what we should have done.
Now I sit each day fighting back the tears as I prepare for her 7th celebration. 2 more than I would have ever imagined. I watch my little girl struggle as she is unable to place the damaged heel of her right foot flat to the floor as I paint the words "Ashley's Acres" across a piece of fabric. The tears run down my cheeks knowing that it is the memory of the injury and the memory of the pain that has added to her list of handicap. I make up my mind to battle the memories as each arise inside of me and not allow them to do to me what they are doing to her. I can not afford to suffer anymore handicaps as I parent her. I must not allow them to paralyze me, trap me inside of the fear, or keep me from moving forward. How I wish I could change them for her, but it was her tiny body that suffered the full brunt of them. Her tiny body that was left damaged. How will she ever learn to walk without the use of that heel? I wonder as I watch her protect each day. Perhaps she never will... I so hope that she can overcome though.
There is beauty to be found in the midst of the ugliness. It lies underneath it, in the middle of it, or even behind it. Its a conscious decision to seek it out. To be grateful for it. All of it. I'm determined to find it. Even on the hardest of days when the memories threaten to engulf me and choke me.
We built a barn for her party this year. As I paint the slats of this old barn I watch the red color cover up the old, worn wood, I imagine the celebrations that are yet to come in her life and I see them covering up the old, worn, memories that hurt so much. My goal at this time is to make through the day without the sting of pain, without the haunting of those days, and without a moment wasted on the ugly. I'd much rather surround my heart and mind in the beauty, in the beauty of a life being lived to its fullest potential. All 7 years of it!