I was anticipating this. The past is again coming alive. I knew when Calvin would arrive, we would be flooded with memories of when Elena was born. And it’s happening. And it’s just as hard as imagined it would be.
Cal is starting to smile, coo, “get busy”, all the things that Elena used to do before her injury. He looks so much like her, it’s hard not to remember our sweet little girl that way. I found a slew of pictures from my old phone on my computer this morning and they really hit me hard. They were of Elena, those short four months we had her that way. But, they were also pictures of Elena at Riley, covered in wires and tubes, her swollen little face. Those days are fresh in my memory. They partly feel like a dream, but only they’re much too vivid. We lived minute to minute, hour to hour those days. I honestly feel like I remember every minute from that first phone call to the day we left. We had no idea what we were facing when we walked out of the hospital. No idea.
Then I found the videos. She was chatty, smiley, giggly, holding her hands together, looking Mommy right in the eyes, our ridiculously happy baby girl (and all the things I took for granted). I remember watching the same video of Elena at least twenty times a day in the hospital. I remember wondering if she would ever be that girl again. I can’t even begin to explain the sadness that fills my heart when I watch those old videos. There are still so many why’s and what ifs. The people in those videos are gone, replaced by a different Elena, a different Emmalee and a different Chad.
The last few weeks have been difficult. There’s nothing new really, it just seems like we’ve had to face the future a little bit more lately, and that pretty difficult. We’re having to face that Elena isn’t just a baby anymore. She is growing up. And when you’re a parent of a child with severe disabilities, growing up is scary. I’m planning on sending my little Elena to school in August. I’m afraid of what it will be like for her. How will the other kids treat her? Will she have friends? Will she be scared? Will she be getting everything she needs? We have to get Elena a new wheelchair. Ugh, yes a wheelchair. To even think about my baby in a wheelchair is such a punch to the gut. I could barely endure even looking at the different models without having an emotional breakdown. We are worried about her muscle tone, her hip, her head growth, her vision, her reflux and the list goes on and on. I’ve never been a worrier and lately, the worry just feels never ending.
I found myself this morning longing for the days before all the worry and heartache. I wanted to go back to the day I took that sweet video of Elena and soak up every minute of it. I can’t help but long for that little girl and wonder what she’d be doing today, what she would be like. There’s so many reminders of the past and so much we’re facing in the future, it’s been hard lately to live in the present. I just want to enjoy seeing Cal change and grow without having to endure the sadness of knowing he’s going to achieve things Elena never will. I want to live in the present and forget the rest. I knew this was coming and that it would be a challenge for me. I’m just praying that like anything else, that we will get through it. It’s just an adjustment, just a phase. But geez, this one hurts.
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