Grief

A Year Later

November 3, 2012

Gosh, where do I begin?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about where we would be a year later.  I look back at this past year and it’s a blur.  There are many days when I can’t remember how we even survived those nightmarish days at Riley, those excruciating days in December or the bleak days scattered throughout this past year.  But we did.  It has not been an easy year, but it has been one filled with both heartache and blessings.

There were many miracles that awful day.  It was a miracle that, after Elena’s little heart stopped beating, it started back up again with the aid of the first-responders.  It was a miracle that after I got that call, I was able to drive myself to the hospital, screaming, crying and praying the whole way.  It was miraculous that Chad’s Uncle Phil was available to pray with him over the phone, while Chad drove 90+mph from Lafayette to Riley.  Every one of those doctors, nurses, chaplains and social workers at Riley were miracle-workers.  They kept my baby alive and me from shattering into a million pieces.  Elena was teetering between life and death that day, one different medical decision or circumstance and everything could have changed.  It was a miracle she lived. 

The memories of that day are as fresh as if it happened yesterday.  The pain is still intense, the fear real.  My heart still clenches up, tears gather in my eyes when I flash back. There has not been one day go by this entire year, that I have not been haunted by a memory of that day.  Every minute is seared into my brain.  I’m certain that as long as I live, I will never be able to forget the memories of November 3rd, 2011.

But more than anything, I don’t want our story to be just a reflection about that day.  I don’t want the trauma, the unfairness, the hurt from that one day to override the many blessings we’ve received and beautiful events we’ve seen unfold since.  I can’t even begin to share with you all the “coincidences” we’ve experienced or all the people who have contacted us just to say how touched they’ve been by our story.  It’s completely divine to see how many people our sweet little girl has touched, even if for one day, one moment.  We will never know how many of you have been moved by Elena’s story, but we have been so touched by those of you who have shared with us. 

It is incredible to know that Elena has made such an impact, but you all have been so critical to us.  This all would be impossible without the love and support we have received since that first day at Riley.  You all have literally kept us going at times.  It’s very easy to feel isolated and alone in our situation, but you have given us comfort, love and encouragement at the moment we need it most.   Your stories, messages, cards, texts, hugs, shoulders to cry on have been an essential part of our journey.  We believe that God has used each of you to be there for us.  So thank YOU!

And lastly, our Elena.  She is a living, breathing miracle.  She has showed more strength, courage and fight than I could ever hope to in my lifetime.  She inspires me every day.  Elena is such a happy girl, full of smiles and love.  It gives me the greatest joy to watch her every day, getting stronger.  I couldn’t be a more proud Momma.  This girl is loved.  Seriously loved.  By us, by our family, by our friends, by people she’s never met but more than any of us put together, by God.  That’s a lot of love for one very special girl. I know she will move mountains in her lifetime.  God has such huge things in store for her.  I just know it.  Deep down in my heart I know she’s going to be alright, that God has much grander things in mind for her than I could have ever dreamed up.  It may not be the plans that we made, but I’m pretty sure God’s plan will prove much better.

When I actually stop to think about everything, the future is far too uncertain.  So much so that it is often overwhelming.  The past can be too traumatic, too emotional.  Every day I have to make a conscious decision to live in the present.  I want to cherish every day, every moment with my sweet girl.  I choose to celebrate each victory no matter how small.  I choose to love that precious girl to pieces, just the way she is.  I remember to give thanks to God for ALL that I am blessed with.  I try to take little for granted.  God is in control. 

Here’s to keeping onward and looking upward, living presently and celebrating each inch of progress we all make!  
That was then:

This is now!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

Meet The Gals