There are no promises in life. Your life plans don't always match your reality. It's often out of your control.
Parenthood brings joy that knows no bounds but it also can shatter your heart and shake you to the core.
Being a parent to a child with special needs and complex medical conditions shows you resiliency you never know existed.
A child's intense work toward delayed milestones is a privilege to behold. I stood in awe. I bow to her tenacity.
Parenting makes you love fiercely and instantly with no conditions or expectations.
Being Bella's mom required me to advocate for her each day, fight hard and stop at nothing to be sure she had what she needed.
I learned that physical, occupational, speech therapists and special education teachers are superheroes.
I learned to tell doctors to do more, work harder, find answers, and think beyond the boundaries of their abilities.
We became super nimble. Plans changed instantly on a daily basis when seizures or sickness reared its head.
We could troubleshoot in the most creative of ways.
We learned to pray fervently that she would live, thrive and be happy.
We stopped at nothing to keep her healthy.
We held her close and treasured every moment because tomorrow is not promised to us (we just think it is).
And just shy of 7 years later, the hardest lesson was learned: Loving your child sometimes means you must let her go. In this case, Bella's bones and lungs would not heal and it was time for her to go to Heaven.
And another lesson - In the midst of terrible sadness and pain, miracles occur.
It took years for me to heal from her death. I didn't just lose her. I had to let her go. I had to make the decision and take the action to let her leave this earth and go to Heaven and shepherd her through that process by holding her for hours before and after she passed away. It was the most excruciating parental task I could ever undertake. It still haunts me but I have come to terms with it and I no longer feel guilty for letting the doctors turn her oxygen off so she could go to Heaven.
This year Bella would have turned 12. She has been in Heaven as long as she was on earth. My nephew wanted to talk to my son about her birthday tonight and how she is celebrating in Heaven. My son sighed and said, "I'm just not ready to talk about it today. It makes me sad." My nephew said, "Don't let it make you sad. Let's celebrate her life."
My nephew always cuts to the chase with the most honest, innocent statements. Yes, let's celebrate her life. We miss her every day and especially on these special days of hers. She was a darling, lovable, beautiful child who touched hundreds of people in her all too brief life. She was always up for hugs, kisses, cuddles and laughs. On the worst day, you could depend on Bella to bring joy to your heart. She's in a wonderful place full of love and free of pain. I am ever grateful that I was the one who received the gift of being her mother. I would do it all over again. She was my firstborn, my only girl and my dream come true.
Happy birthday Bella. We love and miss you.