Life Goes On…

Each year, as May 3rd approaches, I wonder how I am going to express what the past, that day, and the future feel like as we remember losing Abbie and getting her back again.

I had number of themes running through my head, mentally outlining what was sure to be a brilliant update.

This year, the anniversary of Abbie’s drowning was not going to be gut-wrenching, overwhelming, or even sad.  She is, and we all are, in such a good place that I looked forward to a day of celebrating her choice to come back instead of focusing on her departure.

It started off just that way.  Our care coordinator came for a visit, and I wasn’t concerned at all about the appointment falling on May 3rd.  This is otherwise known as “burying your head in the sand.”

I was fine throughout most of the meeting, but when she started asking checklist questions regarding how I am doing  physically and emotionally, I had to tell her to put an asterisk by all my answers because “today is the day.”

There was a long pause, as our care coordinator, one of the most competent and compassionate people we’ve had in Abbie’s circle, processed what I had just said.  I then shared the story about meeting Captain Mamiya the day before, and we were both in tears.

I, with sand still clinging to my eyebrows, was determined to be OK.  As the afternoon began, however, it just became too reminiscent — the way the sun was shining, the pool sparkling in a way that was either mocking or comforting…I couldn’t decide.  I had to get out of the house.  I had to be away from there during the time of day it happened.

I went to a spot we drive past when we take Abbie horseback riding.  I always long to stop, but never can.  Sandy Beach was the perfect refuge for me.  I got some lunch, and found a good spot on the sand.  I didn’t even notice the signs in front of me when I first sat down.

I thought this was the perfect analogy for these years…especially when I later saw two men surfing right behind it.

We were swept away into a strong current we didn’t see coming.  We have, over time, learned to surf these treacherous waters.  We still have wipe-outs, and there are days I come up spitting water, gasping for air.

Life goes on.

In the first months that fact made my heart scream.  I would walk through the grocery store, feeling skinned alive, stunned at the mundane conversations taking place around me.  How could this be?  My daughter was so hurt, our life was so crazy…how could life in general be the same around us?

Fragile scabs formed over my heart, thick enough to allow for others’ everyday joys and fears..teen girls on Facebook, new drivers, As (and Fs) on report cards…my friends’ lives mattered to me…life goes on.

But not mine yet, not really.

My saving grace has been Ray, whose mission seems to have been “Tiffany’s life will go on.”  He has pushed me, pulled me and walked me into a full life – even when all I really wanted was to hibernate in Abbie’s cocoon.  This process, undertaken by two headstrong people, was not without bumps and rattles — but, eight years on, I can say, for myself…life goes on.

I had planned to actually celebrate, and, on May 3rd,  even bought a chocolate cream pie with lots of whipped cream that Abbie would enjoy, along with some candles to mark her “re-birthday.”

But, Ray had an event that evening, and the twins, having that Friday off from school, had plans as well.  A twinge of disappointment at my unfulfilled plans disappeared as I realized that life stops for crises, for vigils, for funerals and burials.  Celebrations can be rescheduled, because life goes on.

I found it an affirming sign that ours, as a family, has, when I and Abbie were alone that evening.  Having gotten messages from all her brothers, and of course her Daddy, this day did not pass unrecognized.  It’s just, now it is in context.  It’s not the day our life stopped, it’s just the day we exchanged an normal average life for an extraordinary one.

We are grateful most of all, Miss Abigail Faith, that through God’s grace and your perseverance, humor, grit, and resilience your life goes on.  As a famous doctor once wrote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!!”

Love Always Wins!

 

 

 

Not Just a Walk in the Park

On Monday Abbie’s therapists totally changed the way she drives her chair.  Her seat has gotten torqued (long story), which forces her to turn to the left a bit.  This positioning makes it almost impossible for her to activate the sensor behind her head, which was her “forward, march!” button.

We are hoping to get the chair fixed in July,  but until then, wanted to make driving easier for her.  So, we let her choose which side of her head she would like to use for driving.  I was assuming she’d choose left, because her head is turning left anyway right now.

Wrong.

She quickly chose the right side — I think it’s so she can prove how strong she is.  She did well with it in therapy on Monday. Today is a bright, sunny (and windy) day in Honolulu, so Alicia and I took her to the basketball courts just down the street from our house.

We had to walk the long way around the park to get to the courts.  As we were just getting past the rec center, I saw Ladder 5 parked at the curb.  Tomorrow will mark eight years since that truck and its crew arrived at our house to help save Abbie.

“Oh, Abbie — Look!  It’s your friends from Ladder 5!”

Just then, the crew began walking past us toward picnic tables.  One of them turned around and said,

“Is that….Is her name….”

I answered with, “Were you….”

We both understood without finishing the sentences.  When Captain Mamiya asked how long it had been, and I answered “eight years tomorrow”, a momentary silence fell.

“I’ve always wondered how things turned out, how she is.  I saw her once at Macy’s and had to ask the woman with her if it was Abbie, because I knew it just had to be, ” he finally said.

“Well,” I responded, “she is so smart, she loves school, she is happy and she is such a huge blessing to our family.  We are so grateful to have her…..so, thank you — thank you for giving us a second chance.”

We chatted for a while longer, and then parted — but not before I could get a photo:

We are profoundly grateful, every day, for the team that brought Abbie back to us.  I am especially thankful that today, of all days, I got to hug one of them, and tell him so.

After that incredible encounter, we made our way to the courts to test out the new driving arrangement.  Follow the link to see  the immediate results:

http://youtu.be/GfE9YDI7qyA[/

She went on and on after that.  And, yes, we were giggling and carrying on just as much the whole time.  She truly is amazing.

As I told Captain Mamiya – sometimes this time of year, these particular days are hard for us.  But, so many good and exciting things are happening for Abbie that this year it is much easier to celebrate her re-birth – rejoicing over the fact that she came back and is bringing laughter to us still.

God is good — and so is life!