Monday, December 5, 2016

What I Didn't Think Would Happen... Did

Today is my 43rd birthday... and just as I typically do each year on this day, I am reflecting on the past year of life. Today however, I am reflecting from a hospital room watching my youngest little angel peer at a television screen from her hospital bed; bandage-wrapped head.

I chuckle in reflection, as the last 3 birthday's have been kind of crappy, and at the time it was happening, that fact seemed so significant. I was so sad and upset that I did not have a special birthday celebration planned for me as I see others have had through the numerous daily social media posts, that have become part of our daily routine.

Now, as I sit here watching and wondering what is going on with my daughter after she collapsed into what seems to have been a seizure yesterday, all of this seems so silly and meaningless.

It's a birthday... a day to signify that I made it another year... so insignificant compared to this little life I am staring at.

Her life is a struggle every day. A struggle to communicate what her mind is thinking, a struggle to get through day after day, a struggle to "fit in" and be accepted as a "typical" human being when she is not typical. Yet she does it with a big smile and a sweet disposition.

My Daughter Brie, has Down syndrome, and what an inspiration she is.

This little angel has changed so many views for me... she is a constant reminder that life is not that hard to get through unless you MAKE it hard. You can choose to smile, and keep going or you can choose to be resentful and give up. On the days that I get upset and frustrated by the things that surround me and the obstacles that I face... her smile is always there to remind me not to sweat the small stuff.

Yesterday was a scary day. She collapsed, stopped breathing and was not responsive for what seemed to be an eternity, although it was about 20 seconds. I panicked, and in that moment as I stared at her pale face and blue lips, I realized how precious life truly is in a way that I never wanted to experience.

What I didn't think would ever happen, did.

I saw a  precious little life flash faintly in front of me. I thank God that it was only for mere seconds, and not for eternity.

In those seconds as I watched my lifeless daughter, I was numb. My eyes frantically scanned the scene for my 14 year-old daughter and my 8 year old son; who is also her best friend.  Frightened with what was happening, I watched them completely fall apart. The fear in my son's face as he screamed in terror, is something that my mind will never erase. It was the worst few moments of my life thus far, yet it taught me the most significant lesson I have ever learned.

We must never take life for granted. We must celebrate every single day, NOT just once a year, and that celebration should simply consist of thankfulness for the life we have, even if it's not the one we want. We breathe, therefore we live.

My mom was there with us and stayed calm in the craziness, holding and hugging Brie as she came out of the episode that had occurred before our eyes. Mom was my rock, as she always has been as I dialed 911, fingers trembling, mentally praying and hoping that all would be okay.

I am happy to say that today, my little angel seems to be okay. Although her head is bandaged as her brainwaves are being observed to be sure that this seizure was a one time episode, I am blessed with a resilient little girl who is still trying to smile through yet another day in her life.

I am thanking God for life, not just mine but for hers. So quickly life can be taken.

As I tucked my son into bed at home last night, while my mother was with Brie at the hospital, he asked me if he could talk to me about why he got so scared. His voice trembled and he choked up as these words escaped his mouth...

"Mom, I was so scared when Brie stopped breathing because she is the only person who is always there for me when I am sad or upset. She always hugs me and kisses me when I cry and she plays with me when nobody else will. It's like she knows exactly how I feel all the time. If she wasn't here, I wouldn't have her to make me smile."

Tears rolled down my face in complete understanding of what he meant, as I hugged him tight and assured him that his little sister was going to be okay.

She has touched so many with her precious little life.

So what did I learn?

It is not the birthday celebration that matters, it is what actually happened in the year of life you are celebrating. It is about what you went through that changed you, formed you, and grew you as a person, mind, body and spirit. Those are the things that truly matter and hold the most significance. We are to celebrate that which we overcome, the days that we never give up, and the ability to smile even when we don't understand it all.

Today, I am blessed. My 43rd birthday is beautiful. It is a day, just like every other day to celebrate the wonderful joys that I have and have had in the past; I sit now watching one of them get through another day, now, resting peacefully despite what surrounds her.

Sure, it's nice to feel loved and celebrated on your "special" day, however I realize even more now that celebrating and loving life itself is so much more significant than a nice dinner and birthday cake. Perhaps that is what God was trying to show me through this.

So... I encourage you today, to celebrate your life WITHOUT cake.


                          xoxo, Shells



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