I am overcome tonight. I am not sure what exactly brought these feelings on, but wow--I can hardly see to type. I look at my memory book of my Ava, and I see her beautiful face snuggled against her favorite teddy bear. Wow, I miss her. But what I miss is her goodness. You could feel how good she was. You could feel her love, her patience, her peace.
I have learned so much about living from this baby. This baby who only lived for three months, and who never got to even see her room, with her name lovingly pasted on her wall, or her crib, decorated with a hand-made quilt and bed skirt. She spent more time in hospital than out of it and she never got to fully experience her senses because she was mostly blind and deaf. But she lived a full life. She lived it good.
These are the things I learned from Ava about how to live:
She bore her pains and difficulties without complaining. She only cried maybe five times her whole life. When she was first born I wondered if she had the capacity to cry, but she could--she just didnt. She grunted instead. These cute patient grunts that showed her discomfort. (Maybe I can learn to patiently grunt everytime Wade is late for dinner and forgets to call...)
She showed me that at the end of our lives, it doesnt really matter if we are the most attractive, if we have the newest phone, if we have read the latest best seller, etc. The only thing that matters in the end is how we love people. The time we spend loving, listening, understanding, snuggling, reading to, talking with, sharing and creating memories is all we have. (And sadly, we often give that up to selfish, fleeting reasons instead.)
She taught me that though we are all imperfect in our own ways, we all have something to give one another. The good that we can do comes inspite of, and often BECAUSE of, our weaknesses and imperfections. (Why do we try to hide them like they are the plague? We all have dirty bathrooms at some time or other, we all wish we could strangle a particular person every once in awhile, we all get scared of something, and we all hate being imperfect.)
She has taught me what a waste of time negativity is, in any of the many forms it may take. To be too critical of ourselves, our spouses, our co-workers, friends, neighbors, leaders, political groups, etc just robs us of our time, energy, and opportunities. (I firmly beleive that I can learn something from everyone.)
She taught me how to fight when life has become almost unbearably hard. Her strong spirit was tangibly bearing up, even as she was laying on the hospital bed in the PICU, shaking and trembling, her intestines punctured, her lungs full of liquid, her ventilator causing her to leak blood from her nose and mouth. She had such a feeling of strength, of patience, of effort as she laid there and looked at us with her one eye. What true strength was exemplified in that baby, and how she helped her Mom and Dad be brave through her example.
I pray every night that i can remember the lessons that I learned from this beautiful little girl. I cry because I am so humbled to reflect on all the moments that we shared together that were profound and spiritual. I think that true love is one of the most sacred feelings that we can experience, and conversely, the lack of love is most tragic.
How many times do we push away opportunities to love because we are too:
If I can just remember that I saw real love demonstrated through a baby girl who couldnt see or hear or breathe on her own, who had crazy hair, who wasnt even on the growth charts, and who some would pity because she was "deficient". If I can remember to not really care who sees my messy house, or if my body looks like it did a year ago, or if I my hair is all in place; maybe I can start to make a difference in others' lives too.