Sunday, December 21, 2008
Looking back on 2008..Good Ridance!
So, as I sit back and look at 2008, I realize that it has been by far the most challenging, and heartbreaking year ever. Here are a few of the things that God has helped us get through this year...
First, we lost my step-grandpa to cancer in February. He and my Mama had been married since 2000, and he was amazing. He treated my grandma like the princess that she is, and it was terrible losing him to a three week fight with leukemia. My grandmas first husband, my Papa, died in 1998 from lung cancer. My children loved Peepa so much, and it has been really sad without him.
Carly Nicole Elliote, my beautiful baby niece who was born in November at 28 weeks gestation, weighing in at 13 ozs, passed away in March from a heart defect that they found just hours before she passed. This was so unexpected, because she was dong amazing prior to this, and was due to go home soon. It was an absolute nightmare. She was 4 months old, and weighed a whopping 4 lbs when she went to Heaven.
Two weeks later, we found out that Rachel, Carly's mom, was expecting again. This was both exciting and scary, as we didn't know what to expect.
Very soon after that, like, a few days I think, Rodney and Rachel's brother, Josh, was in a horrible car accident that almost took his life. Josh means the world to us, and none of us can imagine life without him. He was in a coma for 3 weeks, and was in a semi-coma for several weeks after that while in Rehabilitation at the CMC (Charlotte). We didn't think that he would ever be the Josh that we knew before. Nurses even tried to prepare us for the worst, telling us that he may need permanent long term nursing care. Josh is now home, (thank you Jesus) and is doing remarkably well. I think even the medical professionals are amazed. He still has his personality, and is functional overall, normally. He still struggles with depression and confusion, which was to be expected. He has no memory of baby Carly being born or passing, or of the accident or the 3 month hospital stay. We are just eternally grateful to our amazing God for sparing his life!
Next, I found out that my oldest son, Brendan's biological father, whom we haven't spoken to in 3 years died in April. I actually was searching him on the internet to try to find some contact info, because Rodney and I had been speaking with attorneys to see about getting the adoption process started, and I found his obituary. This was incredibly strange for me. I had been so angry at him for 3 years, that I didn't know what to feel about this. For the next 2 weeks, I felt like i was in a fog. I was sad, because I have a constant reminder of him in Bren. He was a good man, he just made very bad choices. I hate it though, nonetheless.
Last, but definitely not least, Rachel's pregnancy ended on another nightmarish note. She had come to Fayettville to visit with us, along with her fiance, Ryan, and Josh back in November. She was 32 weeks along, and everything was going great. She received a clear-bill of health on the baby from the high-risk specialist, and was told that she could continue out the remainder of the pregnancy with her regular OBGYN. She had had a Dr appt the morning that they came down here, and everything was perfect. They left the next day to go home, and once they got home, she noticed that she wasn't feeling the baby moving. She drank some coffee and laid down, and still nothing. They decided to go to the hospital and get checked out. Their fears were confirmed when the Dr wasn't able to find the baby's heartbeat. Hannah Kathlean Elliote was born the next morning, stillborn. She weighed 2 lbs 15 ozs, and was absolutely beautiful, just like her sister. She had curly black hair. We have no idea what caused this. An autopsy was preformed, but we haven't received any results yet. Rachel and Ryan now wish at some point to pursue adoption, so if anyone has any advice for them, please let me know.
We also (Rodney, Rachel, and I) have been following the blogs of 2 other families in the NICU at CMC that Rachel came upon and introduced me to. The first is the Joye family, who gave birth to preemie twins last year, and stayed in the NICU for, I think, 4 months. They are now home, which is amazing, but one twin is having some serious issues, and just had to have a stint put into her brain. They are such amazing people, and this has been such a journey, and God's walked every step with them. Follow the stories of Adleigh and Liana Joye at www.ferrisjoye.blogspot.com
The other blog that we follow is that of Adam and Aimee Freeman, and baby Kayliegh. Kayleigh has seemed to follow Carly as far as her journey, and the obstacles that she has faced and overcome. She's had a number of surgeries, including open heart surgery. She is just a little over 5 lbs now, and 5 months old (She was a preemie, too, so that's not her corrected age) They thought that they were going to lose this weekend, but that baby girl is a trooper, and she is fighting hard. She seems to be pulling out of it! We sang this morning at church, "How Great is Our God?", and that is sooooo true! There is no limit to what He can do. Follow Kayleigh's journey at www.kayleighannefreeman.blogspot.com It has been a blessing to watch these 2 journeys, but it also has been very hard to relive Carly's journey through them. We love them all, and God will pull them through. He is AMAZING!
Now, we are a few days from Christmas. We have had many other struggles this year as well; financial being one of the main ones that have caused others. We have struggled in our marriage, fought with addictions, disagreed on how to discipline children, felt like God was a million miles away, wanted to quit everything, wanted to go home, felt defeated and depressed, and at times, just wanted it all to end now!
That being said, I have to also reflect on the fact that we have 2 beautiful, healthy children that God has entrusted to us. They are amazing and wonderful. I couldn't ask for anything more. We have a strong faith, even through Satan tried to discourage and destroy. God has been with us every minute, and He will remain by our side. Those baby girl angel's lives touched so many people, and we don't know who all we will meet in Heaven that are there simply because of the life or death of those girls. If that's the case, as hard as it is to say, it was worth the sacrifice, and their parents agree to that. If someone, even one person, is saved from Hell because of those girls, then we look forward to meeting them one day. We miss our girls, but we will see them again. As for Josh, he was living a very wreck less life; very self-destructive, and now his faith is Christ has been restored, and he is a living, breathing testimony of God's love, healing, and mercy. We love him so much. God has held my grandma through her dealing with her husband's loss, and we have seen her strengthen remarkably. At first, we thought that we were going to lose her too, of a broken heart. Rachel is such a remarkable person to me. She is the person that I think I respect more than anyone else. I look up to her as an encourager, and a role model. Her faith in God through all of this is nothing short of a miracle. She is the strongest woman that I know, and I love her so much. As for Bren's father's passing, Bren was able to get survivors benefits to help us out some financially, which has been a huge burden-relief. He never paid any child support, so this was a much needed blessing. God works in mysterious ways. I just pray that, by some miracle, he came to know Christ before he passed. I tried to talk to him a little about it when I first became a Christian, but he made fun of me. Hopefully, he got his heart right after that.
So, even though we go through trials here on earth, and terrible, horrible things happen, God is right there. He doesn't tell us that we won't face difficult things here on Earth, He just promises us that He will never leave us alone. I am so grateful for that.
...Let's just pray that 2009 is incredibly WONDERFUL, full of amazing, miraculous things!! :)