Sunday, November 25, 2012

On this day one year ago

On this day one year ago - the Sunday after Thanksgiving - I went to sleep not knowing the events that would unfold in a few measly hours.

Eleven weeks pregnant with Jack, I was trucking through my first trimester, getting ready to go back to work after spending Thanksgiving weekend at home.

At 12:30 or so, our landline phone rang and it was the type of call you hope you never get. Mom and Dad were at Oakwood hospital - Mom thought Dad had had a stroke.

My sister, her boyfriend and I went to the hospital (Tom had to stay with one-year-old Abby).

The prognosis went from something that could be treated with medication to Dad being airlifted to U-M hospital and given a 10-percent chance to live.

Being in that triage with my parents was one of the most difficult things I've been through. Not knowing if I would see my dad again after leaving him for surgery and being with Mom who knew the same thing was obviously tough.

Ultimately, God blessed us tremendously and Dad survived the surgery and has continued to defy odds.

We saw him push through his therapies and go from being unable to do anything on his own to us being around the dad we've always known.

When we spent our days and evenings in the Cardiovascular Center ICU at U-M hospital, I was absolutely terrified my daughter wouldn't be able to spend time with my dad the way she always had.

But she learned to call him Papa while he wasn't even able to see her (kids are not allowed in CVC ICU) and ultimately re-developed a relationship with him to the point that he's always the first one she "calls" when she's at home.

Visiting Papa in the hospital
I just sit here tonight and my mind walks through the events that occurred one year ago and it seems like another time, but it is also a very distinct period in my life and the lives of my family members.

We lived differently then, going to and from the hospital on a sometimes-daily, sometimes-weekly basis. We now know that hospital inside and out. We've eaten more meals in the cafeteria than we cared to.

My daughter wasn't intimidated by the hospital when she came to visit me after I had Jack because she'd gotten so used to being there.

But life goes back to normal, or you develop a new normal. Instead of things being as they always were they're now how they always are.

What I came to learn from the events that occurred one year ago today is that people are caring at their core. Friends and family came out of the woodwork to help and lend support and people still ask me how my dad is.

You come to realize how precious life is and how quickly it can be ripped away.

You also realize how precious children are.

At only a year old, Abby provided innocence, comic relief, blind love in the midst of a tragedy. In the womb, Jack provided hope.

Days into my dad's stay at the CVC ICU, I was scared having gone through such trauma that I asked to go to Maternal Fetal Medicine to hear my baby's heartbeat for the first time. That is such a wonderful memory for me - the ability to hear my growing baby as my dad fought for his life.

Visiting in the hospital
My sister and my cousin's wife, Benita, were outside the curtain where I had the Doppler performed. As we walked back to CVC ICU, they both said, "It sounded like a boy."

When tragedy strikes, there is that grace period when all wrongs are righted, all hurts are forgiven and all faults are forgotten. Family bands together and becomes one, regardless of anything that has happened in the past.

As healing happens, things return to normal and the dysfunction of everyday life returns. It is bittersweet.

You wish you could always have that unified front, but normalcy is more indicative of well-being.

Grandma and Papa
When I gave birth to Jack, it marked the end of a unique and difficult time in the lives of my family. My pregnancy coincided with my dad's illness and recovery and Jack was the crescendo.

My parents were able to visit me in the recovery room (literally less than an hour after he was born) and hold him and love on him as any grandparents would.

One year later, life continues. Normal for my parents consists of doctor visits and new prognosis. We have a spunky, two-year-old daughter and a sweet, five-and-a-half-month-old son.

The hope is that quality of life for my parents will continue to get better and that Abby and Jack will provide light in the midst of difficult recovery.

Regardless, to think back to one year ago today is to feel incredibly blessed that we are where we are and that we continue to journey together.