Day 2920: The 8th Year
Saturday, March 26, 2011Eight years have passed, and reflection of those years, especially the early days, have consumed me. I have found the need to revisit them. To be able to fully appreciate where we are now I needed to fully remember where we had been. And with the embracing of that memory comes a flood of so many others - memories from before the crash and how life "used" to be.
When I began to Journal I titled each entry by noting the Day. Entries titled, Day 61 Memorial Day or Day 80 Angels. When I journaled Day 365 Moments, I vowed that to survive and to move forward it would be necessary to start anew and with that I withdrew the practice of counting the days. At least in theory - for in my heart and in my mind the tally continues.
And so, now it has been 2920 days since I heard my little girl say my name and wrap her arms around me. It has been 96 months without my co-pilot joining me in song while driving down the road and it has been 8 years filled with sadness, loss, uncertainty and fear. It would be remiss of me not to state that it has also been 8 years filled with unconditional love. For I realize that even with, or in spite of, all of the pain - there is still joy. It is in the quiet moments, in the little victories we see our greatest accomplishments and feel the greatest love.
I believe that with life there is hope. I believe in honoring my daughters indominable spirit. I believe in seeing the glass half full . And while I can not bring myself to say " I believe everything happens for a reason," I do know that my reason for facing and embracing life as I do is because of a pair of big chocolate brown eyes that stare back into mine.
I also believe in Angels. We have been blessed with them from the beginning and the following entry speaks to that belief.
Angel of the Night
A beam of light split the darkness. Slowly the thin ray widened creating a surreal illuminated path in the room. And without warning, an object stepped into the light. She stood unmoving, bathed in the glow creating a soft edge to her silhouette. I rubbed the delusion of sleep from my eyes, trying to wrap my consciousness around our visitor.
I shifted in the hospital conversion chair. A unique contraption, a poor substitute but welcome gift of a bed. As I rustled to attention a voice interrupted the silence and a peaceful feeling settled about the room.
This was the first of what was to be many visits. She always came in the dark of night – becoming part of my restless sleep. She came to speak of angels and her name was Paula. Latin in origin, Paula means small or humble. Yet there was nothing small about our angel of the night. Her impact was immense. It was as though she entered our shelter and spread her winds, engulfing and protecting us from what lurked in the shadows. Always after her visits I was able to put my head down, close my eyes and give way to slumber.
One morning I awoke to find a book, The Sacred Magic of the Angels, on the table next to me. I searched my mind faintly remembering seeing Paula float effortlessly through our room in the quiet of the night. Tori was not yet awake and I took advantage of this time to become acquainted with our gift. The Chapters spoke of Transition, The Language of Omens, and The Healing Tree of Life. Flipping through the pages I sensed it would speak to bands of Angels and their presence in our everyday life. I longed for an opportunity to press Paula for information about her choice in reading material. She appeared that very evening. And as we sat huddled around the faint bulb of a nightlight, her features took on a heavenly serene transformation. “Petition the Angels,” she said. “Make your intentions known.” Her voice, barely a whisper, danced in the air. Its melodic tone entertained my ears as she spoke of the process by which our Angels reveal themselves in our time of need. We must have sat for hours and yet suddenly the morning sun tempted the night sky with its brilliance, teasing the horizon with barely a hint of what was to come. And then she was gone.
Now awakened, blindfold removed, I saw Angels everywhere. How had I not noticed before? They seemed to be around every bend. Later that evening as Tori slept I was lulled by the machines that constantly monitored her vitals. While sleep did not come, inspiration did and I journaled until the dawn. Finished, I felt refreshed. For so long I struggled to prop barriers against the door of doom. To be able to face each day it was imperative the door not be opened.
I feared once it did the grief would barge through and we would be trapped together bound by walls with no means of egress. Yet something was different now. A new strength was building. I could feel the walls of my resolve reinforced. The structure steadied and readied against any impending intruder. I was ready for whatever was to come. The Angels were here.
Our visits with Paula soon came to an end. Tori was being moved to the second floor. She was now deemed to be medically stable. While this should have been perceived as a victory, the initial reaction was one of fear. The notion of a new floor, a new team of caregivers and a room at a considerable distance from the nurse’s station started to knock at the door of my resolve. Breathing deep and calling upon the Angels I was able to put things in perspective. One floor down, one floor closer to the door meant one step closer to home and to the recovery we so desired.
Paula’s visits helped to prepare us for this transition. Our discussions held clues to the Omens lining the path. The healing tree of life, much like my earlier miracle tree which bloomed with progress, was rooted in our faith and in our soul. The Angel of the night guided us further on our journey. Step by step. One baby step at a time.
posted by Tori Lynn Andreozzi Foundation
The Blossoming Tree
Tuesday, March 15, 2011Today I came across some journal entries, originally written while in Franciscan Hospital. The sentiment in this entry holds true even today. The promise of rebirth and renewal; the promise of Spring.
After two weeks of constant bedside vigil in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a reprieve was long overdue. Concerned nurses pointed out to us continually it was okay to take a break. They finally won out and were able to convince us to actually take a walk, to leave the unit and with it, our daughter. I pressed a paper with my cell number into the hand of the nurse manager. She assured me they would call immediately should something happen. Who would have thought there was need for such orchestration just to go and get a cup of coffee?
And walk we did, gingerly stepping away from our little girl’s hospital bed. Looking over my shoulder, I walked slowly as though testing each step. Walking on a pond of ice, listening for the cracks or other telltale signs the bottom is out to fall away. I let out a sigh of relief when it seemed secure and something solid was underfoot. Then without communicating, my pace quickened as did the beat of my heart when turning my back on the doors of the unit. Once passed, they began to close automatically. The telltale click of closure echoed in my ears. I stopped, breathed and summoning up strength, continued on.
The path to the cafeteria took us by a courtyard. The large palladium window in the corridor revealed a stark site. A large barren tree filled the view. This tree would become a focal point for me on these walks which were to become a daily routine.
While in the cafeteria we did receive a call. The doctors had arrived and a decision had been made. Today they would attempt to remove the tube that breathed life into our daughter’s lungs.
Racing back to the PICU, passing the barren tree, my eye caught site of a glimmer of white. A single bud stood out among the blackness. Without hesitation my heart declared, “Tori begins to bloom today.”
Once back to the unit a team began to assemble. Trauma specialists, respiratory technicians, pulmonary doctors, neurologists and a host of nurses coupled with residents and medical students gathered just outside of the room. I watched the Unit’s primary physician move to the middle of those assembled and begin to rundown the situation. The quarterback was calling the play. And like a well practiced team they all began to take their positions on the field. Each prepared to carryout their individual task, to work in unison towards the ultimate touchdown. Some were skeptical such a daring play would succeed. Others knew it could not fail.
Tori had a cheerleader. One persistent, dedicated young and optimistic nurse. Stacey. She was the ultimate pep rally. Just days prior she demonstrated to a less than impressed doctor why she knew Tori could be extabated. Much to his segrin, she climbed onto the hospital bed, strattled Tori and pointing to her throat, indicated the ever so slightly noticeable new movement. Hurray for our side as the doctor consented to try.
And so here we are, the home team getting ready for the big play. We stood on the sidelines barely breathing as we watched the carefully choreographed movements. Truthfully it was difficult to see exactly what was happening. In retrospect that is probably best. The team seemed to huddle even closer together creating a tight circle around the hospital bed. The respiratory technician with his hand on a switch, anxiously awaited his orders. And with the countdown, “1, 2, 3”, it was done. The tube was removed and all that remained was to see if Tori could finish out the play. The first indication of success was the burden that seemed to be lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. They somehow seemed taller. And while it did not mean that we had won or that the game was over, we were on our way.
My thoughts turned immediately to the single bud I witnessed earlier. I became obsessed with visualizing the transformation of that tree being a symbol of my daughter’s progress. And like the tree, she too would bloom. I desperately looked forward to spring. After prayers of thanks and tears of joy we returned to Tori’s bedside. The team faded away watching diligently from the sidelines ready to spring into action should something go astray. Thoughts returned to the tree, my miracle tree.
Light poured through the windows. A new day dawned and spring was in the air. The success of the extubation lightened our hearts. We felt renewed. The tree would tell me more. This time when we took a walk to the cafeteria we walked lighter, more certain of our path. As we rounded a corner I caught a glimpse of the tree. A lump caught in my throat as my initial assessment saw no difference in its appearance. As we neared the windows I could feel the heat of the sun through its glass and my eyes searched for more. And there, tucked around the side of the tree, I saw it. A cluster of buds had burst through. The tree was coming back to life. My spirits soared. But the moment was mine alone. I wasn’t ready to share this observation with anyone just yet. I held tight to my belief that this was an outward sign of renewal, of rebirth. A sign the dead of winter, the darkness of night, will eventually give way to spring and the gift of light.
posted by Tori Lynn Andreozzi Foundation