Elena in the Light

Gratitude

Seven Years Later

November 3, 2018

As I sat down to write this post, the dreaded November 3rd, relive the trauma, revisit all the emotion-post, my thoughts were all over the place.  From deep reflection of where we started seven years ago to where we are now, to what comes next in our journey, to what I’ve learned as a Mom to Elena, to Calvin and to Turner, I couldn’t nail down a specific train of thought.  I spent two hours writing random paragraph after random paragraph and hoping that in the end I could piece it all together in some fluid, sensible piece.  Well, I couldn’t (ha!).  So this is what I could piece together.  Whenever I share with you, I do my best to be as honest, vulnerable and straight-forward as I can be.  I’m pretty darn imperfect, but this is my experience, how I feel.  I share so that you may find some comfort for whatever it is you’re facing.  Because we’ve all got something, can I get an Amen?!

November 3, 2018.  This year is different.  There’s no explanation really.  I just feel as though my heart has closed a significant chapter of my life.  Much of what that entails, the intense pain, the gained perspective, how I learned to live again feels mostly settled somehow.  As this dreaded date approached this year, I found myself seeing it on the calendar, but not feeling it.  In years past, I would feel anxious as it approached, almost stuck in a reoccurring nightmare.  I would relive the entire day.  This year has felt like more of a remembrance, a day to note, not a day that grips my insides in terror and grief.  It replays in my mind with a deep sadness, but not the horror like it used to. 

I haven’t quite identified the reason for this yet, though for some time (as I’ve written about), I’ve been much more at peace.  It has felt as though I had begun to walk away from the trauma, settle my feelings about our journey, even “cruise” for a bit.  But even feeling settled has it’s little ups and down.  I’ve done a lot of clinging to the controls and hitting the panic button from time to time.  It’s so hard for me to remember God’s goodness and faithfulness at times, thinking I know better, that I can do better.  And it’s in those times I need to remember where I’ve been, what I’ve been through, and more importantly, what He has brought me through.

I’m a pretty average person with a pretty average life.  I had something really, really terrible happen to my family.  And in the first 20 seconds of me being told I needed to race to Riley Hospital to meet my (likely dead) child, I screamed the only thing I knew to scream.  Jesus.  Nothing else.  No prayer.  No please let my child live.  No what happened.  Just Jesus.  And seven years later, even through the darkest, hardest, loneliest days of my life, He has been there.  Whether you began reading this blog seven years ago or seven days ago, I hope you realize that all of this is credited to that.  Not to me or my strength or my writing or my love for my daughter.  There has been one thing keeping me going, our family together, and our daughter the light to so many lives.   

Sometimes I forget that.  I get all wrapped up in my feelings and my fears and my anxieties about how hard life is.  I panic about what comes next, how we will endure, how to keep it all together.  And all along the answer is always simple and whispered in every beat of my heart.  Jesus.  I don’t know why this happened to us.  I don’t know why she lived that day.  I don’t know what lies ahead.  But I do know He is good.  He is faithful.  He loves me more than I could ever possibly fathom.  I know I don’t need to have all the answers to go on.  I just need these truths.  And to remember what He has already carried me through.  The rest of it is just complicated, feeling-ful me, navigating a life that I didn’t expect.  Yes, it’s messy.  Yes, it was traumatic.  Yes, it’s grief I’ll carry for ever and ever.  But, I’m loved and I never have to carry the weight of this alone.  I never have to do this perfectly or with ease.  I just trust. 

I welcome a pain-free November 3rd.  I have long preferred it to be a celebration that my child lived, my heart has just taken a really long time to ease it’s grip on the trauma and focus on the joy.  There was so much darkness that day, everything we held dear was under attack.  However, I choose to remember all the love that filled those hallways, those tiny hospital rooms, our hearts, the hearts of those who held our hands. Those wonderful friends and strangers who surrounded us, held us up, prayed with us, I remember.  And of course the miracles, there were many that day.  I choose to remember that.  Our Shining Light was re-born that day, her light brighter, our love stronger, our faith deeper.  We choose what we remember.  And on this day, seven years later, I remember that love won.  He saved her.  And He saved me. 

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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