Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things Sam Does

Sam is growing everyday.  He's getting taller, getting a sense of humor, and getting vocal.  He has finally picked up a few more words other than Dada, Momma, and Bye Bye.  He now also regularly says Stinky, Dog, Ball, Door, Shoe, Sock, Eye, Nice, Hey, Hi, Ruff Ruff, Car, and PooPoo.  He can say a handful of names: Nana, Pop Pop (which he says in a whisper thanks to a funny incident on our camping trip with my family), YaYa (which he says when he sees the house phone), Pop, and Aunt Amanda (which comes out as a three syllable word similar to 'annannda'.  He has also said a hand full of two word phrases. He can say 'Bye Bye Daddy (or Momma)' and 'Daddy, where are you' (which really sounds like "daddy, ahh ooo"). 

He especially loves all things Dog and all things Car.  I had made a diaper cake for a co-worker, and there was a dog stuffed animal on top.  I was carrying him out to the car and we passed by the cake on my counter.  Sam took one glance and said "Ruff Ruff".  As if I didn't think that was genius enough, we were merging onto the interstate yesterday and Sam said "Ruff Ruff Car".  I thought he was just running through his favorite words, but then I realized the truck just in front and to the left of us had a dog in the back.  SOOOO smart, right??  He really does amaze me, considering we went from nothing to a whole bunch of words in just a few weeks.

His walking is getting much better, although he still falls and trips frequently...more so than I think is normal but then again I don't have anything to compare him too.  They daycare thinks he is doing great, and is already moving him up to the older toddler room.  Even though he isn't as good of a walker as the other kids, the administrator said that he is really good during structured activities in his current room (unlike some of the other kids), and she thinks he would learn more in the next room up because it is more structured.  I kind of hate it though...we JUST moved up from the baby room a month ago!  As long as they don't come to me and say they are moving him on up to Kindergarten in a month, I guess we'll survive.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Grief and Joy

First, a Wimberly family update:  Sam is becoming quite the walker...and door opener...and cabinet inspector.  Chris and I are about to renovate and finish one of our larger attic spaces to make a playroom/office/whatever room.  Our 4th of July was wonderful: bike ride, church (with a successful trial run with Sam in the child care room), great couponing grocery store visit, Sam played with our neighbors kids in the sprinkler, watched fireworks care of Arden Park Daddies, lovely steak dinner.  All is well in Wimberly land!

But my thoughts have been other places these last few days.  A beautiful heart baby, Ruthie, who we have followed for some time, has FINALLY been blessed with a new heart.  On the same day, a beautiful 9 year old patient of mine passed away after 9 years of severe compounding medical complications of a genetic condition.  In both cases, there is joy and grief. 

For Ruthie, and her faithful parents, being on the transplant list since February has been a true test.  They have truly been an example of how to give your worries over to God and trust in the notion that there is a greater plan out there for all of us.  I have said it before, and must say it again: seeing these heart children survive waiting on the transplant list, and then successfully receive and thrive with a new angel heart is so relieving to me.  I know Sam's fate will one day hinge on the results of the same journey.  I marvel in these children and families who go from rock bottom to a birth into a new life.  But to get there, to achieve new life, there must be death.  Another family has to go from life to rock bottom.  A mother and father, sisters and brothers, grandparents and family...all must say goodbye to a life that has hardly begun in order for another child to go on.  Death creates life in a literal sense.  It is beautiful and horrifying.  It is a hard pill to swallow sometimes...that one day we may be praying for the death of another to bring life to Sam via the selfless generosity of a grieving family.  That someone else's grief might bring us ultimate is a concept I doubt I will ever be able to fully grasp.

I had another encounter with grief and joy this week.  I have been working as a pediatric physical therapist for 5 months now.  In my first few weeks, I met a beautiful little girl with an extremely complicated medical past.  Though her body and brain had been ravaged by years of suffering the symptoms of her condition, two things shined through: her perfect innocence, and her families unwavering faith.  I felt at once completely overwhelmed by her impairments and yet completely compelled to do everything I could to help this child and this family.  I researched what I could, spoke with other professionals, tried to find new medical equipment to ease the burden of caregiving.  Just when I started to feel like a plan was coming together, she got sick.  Within a week she was REALLY sick.  Her years of suffering had finally broken her body.  Her family was quick to point out, though, that this was a moment for joy.  Her suffering would soon be over, and she would be dancing with the angels in heaven in a way she had never been able to dance on this earth.  At the same time, I can't imagine the depth of this families grief, as the daughter they have literally built their lives around slips away.  Their most recent CaringBridge post was two sentences long.  It described the scene of this beautiful creature's passing from this earth to the next, as she and her sister fell asleep together wrapped in each others arms. 

A few posts ago, her mother shared the thoughts of another mother who had also had to watch her daughter fade away.  She said,"Grief and joy danced together as if they had a right to."  I have contemplated that idea deeply over the last few days.  I have decided that rarely do grief and joy NOT appear together, although it is often hard to see one or the other at the time.  Grief and joy shape the most pivotal moments of our lives, and in times of extreme grief, we must find the joy in order to make sense of the pain and to move forward. 

I would like to share one more story.  Krisanna, the inspiration for my career, and her family are another example of allowing joy to wash away the grief.  Though she had been diagnosed with a cancer that would almost certainly one day take her life, she continued to spread the most bright yellow attitude of hope and gratefulness.  Her parents were the same way.  Even now, almost a year since her passing, her mother writes often of the 'coincidences' throughout her day that remind her of her daughter's bright shining life.  When reading the last few passages of Krisanna's life on her CaringBridge, there is very little grief.  Don't get me wrong, the loss of their daughter was absolutely devastating.  But even in this worst of the worst moments, her family chose to share every drop of joy they could find, which has left a true legacy of 'yellow' - Krisanna's self chosen color to describe happiness.  One particular passage I reflect on often was a story Krisanna's mom shared from one of Krisanna's final days.  She was beginning to sleep often and have difficulties telling the difference between reality, memories, and dreams.  She had begun to tell her mother she was seeing angels.  That alone gives me chills.  Her mother goes on to write that Krisanna told her the angels wanted her to choose between two beautiful things.  Krisanna never described what exactly the angels were offering her, but her mother believes they were trying to coax Krisanna away from her ailing body to her rightful place in heaven. 

I'm so glad her mother shared that story.  I don't know what exactly Krisanna was seeing, but I whole heartedly believe what she was seeing was real.  It solidifies the sense that, in the darkest hour, there is something greater awaiting us.  That in our greatest of grief, there awaits joy.  I can see Krisanna playing in a beautiful yellow dress, perhaps the beautiful 'thing' offered to her by the angels.  I can see a whole, able bodied little girl, my patient, skipping and smiling and doing the things she never experienced here on this earth.  I see Ruthie's new guardian angel, birthed into a new life of his/her own in heaven, smiling down on the brave and generous family members who allowed his/her life to grant life to others.  All three of these angels lived a heartbreakingly short life.  But short does not have to equal sad.  All three have touched the lives of many many others in a way that I feel I, in my 27 years have come no where close to doing.  If I have learned one thing from these three stories (and trust me, I have learned MUCH more), it is to find the joy in the grief, and to allow the two to dance together without shame when the music is just right.


Thursday, July 1, 2010


After Sam's disappointing ENT experience two weeks ago, we recharged on a family vacation! 

We drove up to Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta for the first leg of the journey.  My parents and sister met us there.  Stone Mountain isn't exactly our idea of a great camping vacation, but we went there for a purpose.  Chris and I signed up for the Muddy Buddy race months ago.  This is a bike/run adventure race that benefits the Challenged Athlete Foundation, which provides special equipment and prosthetics to disabled athletes.  The race is a team event with trail biking, trail running, obstacle climbing, and mud pit crawling.  It was a lot of fun (even though it was 140 degrees outside).

After the race, we drove up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We camped in the park for 5 days.  It was much better weather in the higher elevation.  We did some beautiful hikes, played in the rivers, and tagged along as my parents bought their 'dream' retirement home in Gatlinburg, TN!  Sam had a FANTASTIC time being TOTALLY spoiled by my parents and sister.  He enjoyed camping, too, and got to spend every night on a queen sized bed all to himself in my parents pop-up tent trailer. 

Even better, Sam learned to WALK!  He finally caught the hang of it while we were shopping in a great outdoor sports shop that had a super cute crawl space decorated like a bear's den in their kids clothing department.  I guess he got excited and curious enough to just go for it!  Since then, he's practically mastered walking.  AND he wants to walk EVERYWHERE.  We could not be more proud or happy!

Unfortunately, he did recently master something else: the fine art of temper tantrums.  He now REGULARLY throws himself down on the ground, kicks his arms, throws his legs, bangs his head, and screams at the top of his lungs.  Usually, he does this for NO APPARENT REASON but to try it out.  Ugh.  We are doing out best to ignore it, but if anyone has any other suggestions, I'm willing to listen!