Yesterday was a beautiful day. It was my bday and since Josh & I both had the day off, we were able to be together as a family. As a child, I always loved when my birthday fell, because I never had to go to school. Ha! :) As I have entered the 'real world,' I haven't always had the luxury of having my birthday off, but yesterday since it happened to be a normal day off for me, I realized I now have another reason to be thankful for when my birthday falls...now my girls are the ones who are out of school, and when Josh & I are off, we will always be home together! :) In the morning we didn't do anything special or out of the ordinary, but it was so nice waking up with everyone home - and just being able to be together and relax. And Josh & the girls made the day special for me by doing little things here and there, so it was wonderful. :) Josh & I were able to spend the evening together because my wonderful in-laws came over to watch the girls for us, as they have graciously made a tradition of on my birthday the past few years. Josh & I went to one store together, had dinner at Garozzo's, then went to the movie 'Unbroken.' It was so wonderful spending quality time with my hubby.--Even when we were photo bombed by a complete stranger sitting behind us at the theater; it was too funny...I will post the pic. :) Days like yesterday are a true blessing.
As I was thinking about this last night after we got home, I started hoping 2015 will bring so many more memories and blessings like I had just experienced. After going through such a tough year, we are looking forward to a fresh start with the new year. As I kept thinking about this, I realized that even though it was so difficult and the journey continues to remain hard, we were surrounded by the blessings of all of you during those tough times. As Josh & I left the house yesterday to go out for the evening, I can't even remember what brought it up, but we started talking about how much love and support we felt...and have continued to feel...as we have gone through everything with Avelyn. Times like we have gone through...difficult times...also bring about blessings. Not that we didn't know it before, but it just really brought to the forefront how blessed we are with so many friends and family members. You really get to see everyone's true colors...and they really have been TRUE, so sincere, so meaningful. On our way to Goodland to celebrate Christmas over a week ago, I was going through and then deleting text messages because my phone was running out of storage space and apparently it's been several months, and a year in some cases, that I haven't deleted threads of messages. It was humbling and I was tearful reading through some of the messages people had sent back in May, before and after Avelyn passed. Again, making me realize how blessed we truly are and just how in the world we were able to get through those times - with your help and God's strength through you and in you. A true blessing.
As I continued to think about everything, I realized more and more that blessings don't just come in the good times, like in my wonderful day yesterday. They are present in the worst of times, too. Even though I wouldn't wish it on anyone and even though I hope I never ever have to go through something remotely like this again, besides all the loving support we received from friends and family, we can also look at some other things we went through with Avelyn as a blessing. This is a tough one because at times I am still angry at the situation, bitter for what we had to go through, and I will never ever get over the heartache of losing our precious daughter. It's just not possible. But looking back, it's easy to find some blessings when I think about precious moments I was able to share with my daughter. I have just wrapped up a week on 'Suffering' in my Hope devotional. It has talked about how we should embrace suffering, even though what we really want to do is run from it. And at the time, through all those moments we had with Avelyn (and during those times I just knew she was going to be healed and live a beautiful & full life with us), there were times I just wanted to be done with the hospital, be done with those trips to & from downtown, be done with all of it, to bring her home with us. And it's okay that I had those thoughts because my ultimate goal, hope, and expectation was that we were going to bring her home; I knew it. But oh, now how I wish I could embrace those moments and be right in the midst of them once again. I have thought this so many times since Avelyn passed, just wanting to go back. Not because I want to suffer and not because I want my baby girl to suffer, but because I just miss those moments with my baby girl. While I was there, I feel like I cherished them, the good moments; I just wish I could go back and experience them again.--Sitting there in D38 - off and on all day long, giving my daughter 'hand hugs' as they called them. Singing to her. Staring at her beautiful profile. Letting her little hand squeeze my finger. I would love to have those moments back, despite how quickly I wanted to be out of the hospital and home with Avelyn, our whole family together, when we were going through it. All of those moments, beautiful blessings. Blessings despite the suffering. Although I cherished those precious moments at the time, I saw them as a stage, as a step to the next goal of coming home with us. Now I see them as precious blessings I will never forget. Blessings I am thankful I was able to experience. I feel so blessed I was able to share these moments with my sweet Avelyn. Lots of little, but oh so precious blessings.
I remember in college, some friends and I got onto the topic of "would you rather have loved and lost, or never loved at all?" We were talking more about romantic love, but I think about this with Avelyn, as well. Getting pregnant with her was actually a surprise for us. Not planned. So it could have been that I never even knew she would exist, kind of like the latter option - "never loved at all." So now, as I ask myself this question in regards to Avelyn, most definitely I choose the former. I am so, SO thankful God gave us the chance to meet her, and as my OB @ Children's Mercy put it...I am SO glad God gave us the opportunity to show Avelyn how much we love HER. And even though she is gone from us for now, here on this earth, she is not truly 'lost,' like the former option states "...loved and lost." No, we know exactly where she is, which makes the first option even more obvious of a choice. As my friend Robyn (who has also had a baby pass, who I talked to and who helped me tons just a few days after Avelyn passed) told me when someone told her "I'm sorry you 'lost' your child" - she would say "I didn't lose my child, I'm not a bad parent, I know exactly where she is." This actually made me laugh because I can totally here my friend saying this, she cracks me up...but it really helped me to see her point. I don't mind, and she probably deep down doesn't truly mind if someone says "I'm sorry for your 'loss,'" but she helped to open my eyes that we both know exactly where our babies are. Not lost by any means. Probably actually more 'found' than any of us here. :) This gives me true and complete hope and peace in suffering. A huge blessing.
Even though looking back I am able to see blessings in the midst of suffering, I most definitely, without a doubt wish things would have gone differently; I wish with all my heart there was a better outcome and we were able to bring Avelyn to our home. I wish I was holding our sweet Avelyn in my arms right now, rocking her, cuddling with her, with me, here. But going the way it did, I have to focus on the blessings, some of the positives that came out of our short time we had here on earth with our sweet girl. If I don't focus on this, I don't think I would make it. And like I said, I miss so many of those moments. Those moments that at the time were part of an overall 'suffering,' but that now I long to go back and experience again. Cherish those moments. Not the suffering itself - obviously, as none of us enjoy that, but the blessings you may have, that you may need to look for, search for, dig for, during those difficult journeys life brings. If it's hard to see blessings during, you will most likely find them afterward...in something as simple, but very important as how much you've learned or how much you've grown. I will never come even close to fully understanding why it was in God's plan for Ave to fly to heaven way before what we wanted to be 'her time,' but focusing on the blessings that were present help me come a little closer to understanding and give me peace and strength in this tough time.
As I continue to put the pieces of my broken heart back together, I will continue to look UP because that is what gets me through, and honestly that's what life is about.--Living the life He wants you to live. Two things in closing, #1 - I hope and pray each of you will have an amazing 2015, and #2 - when the challenges come - which they unfortunately will at one time or another for all of us, whether big or small, you will look UP and you will search for those blessings - whether the load be heavy or light - because they are there, somewhere. Find those blessings...and LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE...
Hugs sweet friends.