Friends, I know it’s been awhile. For me, it’s been refreshing. I haven’t felt the obligation that the blog was beginning to feel for me. What started as a sort of journal for me and a way to update those who were following Elena’s recovery, began to feel like a chore. My writing needs to be inspired and fortunately for me, I wasn’t being compelled to write and share in the same ways that I once had. That’s good for me, because I feel like I can once again breathe. I’m not gripped with emotion, battling my way through every day like I once was. And friends, THAT’S GREAT NEWS! For all of us, who have battled, are battling or will battle in the future…it ends. And life gets sweet again.
Life is sweet today because we celebrate yet another year with our best girl. Today is Elena’s 8th birthday. She’s big, you guys. She’s tall, skinny. Her face has thinned from what once was a chubby-cheeked, baby-toothed smile. Sweet little freckles now dot under her eyes and across the bridge of her nose. Her little baby teeth have been replaced (and are still coming in!) with big, too-big-for-her-smile teeth. Though she’s growing, she’s still just as sweet, just as funny, just as snuggly. In spite of whatever pain exists at the knowledge that she will never grow and change like my boys do, a giant swell of love swoops up to envelope me when I think of cuddling her forever or my definite future of Disney songs on repeat always. Our road with her is different. Some days it’s painful and other days a special gift I get to think upon.
But today, she’s 8. She will be a second grader in just a few weeks, surrounded by her unfathomably inclusive and loving peers and teachers. We will celebrate by bowling later this week, a new-found source of excitement for her. Her therapies continue. Her physical challenges continue. But so does the joy she brings to our lives every day. So do the lessons in patience, acceptance, love, kindness, problem-solving, resiliency and a million other things I’ve learned along the way. Though these life lessons I’ve learned and pray my boys learn have been beneficial, she remains the gift. She will always be the gift, the reminder of God’s goodness and mercy and faithfulness. Whatever I face in this life of mine will never compare to what she overcomes every single day. Seeing her grin, hearing her laugh, watching her succeed is worth every tear that has been shed over the last eight years.
My sweet little girl. My Elena Catherine. The one who taught my heart to beat. You are so loved. You are so valued. You are the most precious gift. Happy Birthday my darling.