Walking Out of the Woods

I love capturing and reflecting on my half full cup, but then the sting of reality strikes. Accidents happen.  Cups spill.  Life falls out of balance.  In the past two weeks, my shutter has been deathly silent.  I find it hard to think of taking pictures when my daughter is traumatically injured.  On May 2nd, our (formerly) adopted lab Buddy bit Alex seriously across the face.  Sometimes a simple act of love takes you to fields of mines instead of those of gold. We were crushed in so many ways.

I watched my baby sleep bloody and battered, waiting hours for surgery.   I watched Ben crumble to pieces in his personal failure to protect our baby.  I prayed and I tried not to panic, but it's hard to control the fears and the worry that ensue.
Alex the day after, recovering at home, dressed for the occasion.
We were barely home, adjusting to open wounds when the infection forced her back to the hospital 36 hours later.
Alex clasp tightly the flowers given to her by her dear friend Enzo.

Wednesday morning, when Alex slept for 16 hours straight, my instincts told me this adventure was going in the wrong direction.  My gut told me to worry and to take action now.   One thing I am sure of in the past three years is that I trust and listen to my inner mama.  It's strong and sure.   And I've also learned to be my child's advocate.  Ben took Alex over to surgeon's office, who immediately admitted Alex to the pediatric unit to be treated with IV antibiotics. Thank you gut for pushing me.
Wednesday morning, my mama was screaming to do something. This is not normal.

I remember Ben calling me and saying, "Now don't panic, but we are heading back to the hospital." I stayed calm enough to make it through the call.  But as I walked around the house, gathering supplies for the next few days, I realized that we were tumbling deeper in the woods where it's dark and thorny.

By the time I reached the hospital, she was unable to see out her left eye.  Ben refused to move away from her.

We struggled watching our child deflate like a balloon.  And once again, her safety was out of my control and all I could do was love her, pray, and have faith that she would overcome.  I tried to stay positive for her, but the stress was crushing both of us.

The first moment of hope was in the form of a sparkly ballet dress left by our dear friends.  We just returned from a CAT scan (which thankfully confirmed the infection was local), & Alex spotted glittery material peering out from a bag; she sprang from the wheelchair like a cat.
The gift energized her.  It energized us.  And I remember crying through a blanket of tears, watching her twirl in front of the nurses station.  I felt her spirit.  I thought, "She is stronger than this."
Over the next 3 days, we felt the love of our community and our tribe.  So thankful for the nourishment, phone calls, hugs, & shared fears.  Friends helped with errands.  Bosses called only for updates. And we never left Alex's side.

Going home Friday felt like a breath of air, but having my daughter in my arms on Mother's Day felt like the best day of my life.  No act of kindness, card, or gift could take the place of her presence and our bond.  I smelled her hair and her skin, soaking her in like a new born. I must have kissed her a hundred times.

And today, I realize that we are feeling the warmth of the sun and the wind, which is drawing us out the other side of the woods.  And I finally have the strength to talk about it.  It was an experience that frightened us, but by no means defines us. What I'm learning is that even though I see a wound, it's just on the surface.  Alex's spirit is not torn or redefined.  She is stronger and braver than I am.   And accidents happen.

And now we go back to sharing out time with friends, spending time at the beach on a rainy day.  Just being ourselves. Breathing without thinking.  Laughing.  Letting kids be.

And I know that a bottle of color will cover my new grey hairs perfectly, and laughter sometimes is stronger than the best medicine available.  To my tribe, I love you so for holding us up.  
Thanks Karen for forcing me to goof-off like we were 15 and high on cherry slurpees.