It has become easy to forget. To forget that Elena was not born with disabilities, that it has not always been this way. Sometimes I forget the entirety of what we walked through that day and in the months, even years, afterwards. It has become easy for it all to feel like a lifetime ago, a distant memory, almost a bad dream.
Then as this day inches closer on the calendar, slowly it all unfolds to me again, and I begin to relive all the tragedy, all the trauma and all of the triumphs that have happened over the course of the last 12 years. Yes, it brings unimaginable sorrow. Yes, I still find myself grasping to understand how and why. Yes, I am overwhelmed by the complete devastation of what we experienced. But hindsight also allows for clarity and brevity, seeing how far we have come, and how much God has redeemed from the ashes of our burned down lives. This day holds more than just memories. It’s both a time machine, taking me into the past to any given moment, and a measure of how far and how much one person, one family can overcome.
Every day for 12 years, love has been my motivation. Grief has been my companion. Both of these are intertwined, one not existing without the other. You can’t experience love without grief and grief doesn’t exist without love. Each one of my days is a walk straddling the line of opposing emotions, unable to experience the highs of one without the lows of another, and vice versa. Living in this constant tension has taught me to feel both sides, fully, without guilt, without pressuring myself to choose between them. I am able to face the emotional, physical, and mental challenges that come with caregiving each day, but as I lay down at night, I also feel a deep gratitude and a satisfying contentment for both the grit and the good of my days. The circumstances of this life are hard, but my faith has made it worthwhile.
Today is about remembering the past. While I’m not one to loiter there, I always think it’s important to use this day, to not only recognize what Elena lost, but also to see the hope that lives in the space between then and now. A hope that isn’t necessarily about things turning out the way we wanted, but rather about what we have come through, together, with love, with faith and shining a light, her light, His light, into the darkness.