Twenty one years ago, on August 11th, our family's life, MY life was changed.
Twenty one years ago on a stifling hot August morning, we struggled to welcome a new life.
How could 7 pounds possibly bring so much emotion? So many unanswered questions? So much change?
People didn't come into that hospital twenty one years ago tip-toeing or whispering.
No, they came right in over that threshold and they hugged.
They came through the doors and wrapped their arms around us and said things like, "Congratulations!" "She's beautiful." "We love you and are here for you."
They sat with us as we wept and processed, begged for answers and stared into space.
They stayed with us until we fell asleep and then-only then did they whisper good night and tip-toe out of the room.
Those people continued to come and they brought flowers and gave my eldest a t-shirt that celebrated her being a big sister. Those blessed people brought meals, welcomed our girl into our church, into their arms and gave more hugs and more love and the most amazing thing began to happen.
We began to celebrate her as well.
It didn't happen over night.
No, those nights were long and fraught with many medical decisions and exhaustion and fear and searching for answers.
Still, the joy came.
And when it did- oh! For the love of all things holy, it came crashing in.
It came in the form of the smell of new baby and soft, downy snuggles.
Joy came in the beaming pride of an older sibling, one who just knew that this was the sister she was waiting for.
Joy snuck up on us in the form of blue eyes as deep and as wide as the sky. Eyes that were supposedly "almond shaped" but to us, they were absolutely perfect for her-absolutely lovely.
After four years of waiting, joy crashed in when I heard the first response of "I love you" and always, always in sloppy wet kisses.
Joy was found in determination and spunk, curiosity, and a smile as wide as the heavens.
I would be a liar if I said my life was just hunky-dory. That my life is one continual joyous journey.
Instead, what I think I/we are to give light to is that we still have exhausting nights that are fraught with medical decisions, hard life decisions, fear, bone-deep tiredness, feelings of being alone and a continual search for answers.
There are still tears and waves of grief, still times where we sit down and say to ourselves, "What now?, Which way? How can we possibly gear up for this?"
And yet, in the midst of it all-
There is still joy.
A deep, unexplainable joy that runs through us when we celebrate with this girl, for this life, her accomplishments, who SHE is.
A joy that seriously has no words when this girl defies the odds.
When she throws back into oblivion words that were spoken that never supported her.
Words spoken by those we were looking to for direction and answers.
"She will never....."
"She won't be able to....."
"If I were you, I wouldn't...."
"There won't be many times we can...."
"Why would you....."
This unexplainable, palpable joy comes in the whispers of morning snuggles and hugs.
It comes in the form of a small hand that always finds mine, her head laid down in my lap for prayers at night, a nose rubbing mine.
It even comes in the form of eyes that roll and spark with defiance.
Because even then, she shows us that she can and she will.
I think I will forever try and find the answer to holding both joy and fear, grief and laughter, exhaustion and fun.
But for now?
We celebrate and give thanks and cheer and throw confetti.
We will light candles and eat cake.
We will have our eyes open wide at the miracle of life and this time when I weep, it will be for a grace and goodness and joy so deep that it swallows us whole and keeps us close and safe.