February 17th is an icky, icky day for me. Each year when it comes around, I get a sort of knot in my stomach, anticipating that something bad's going to happen. When this date rolls around each year, I have a hard time saying "yes" when my kids want to go someplace without me.
"Can I ride my bike outside?"
"Today I got invited to go to the beach...can I go?"
"I'm going to the mall today with my friends, okay?"
No, no, no. Just please stay home with me on this day, so that I can watch you and be with you. So that I can feel safe and at peace.
But of course I don't live that way. I say yes. I let them go because it's the right thing to do. I can't force them live to according to my anxieties on this day. So on this day, I smile and send them off...and I fight the fear.
I try very hard on this day to not remember. I try not to think about it. But it's impossible. It's impossible not to watch the clock for the four o'clock hour to arrive. It's impossible not to think all the "at this time" thoughts as each hour of this day ticks by, and I relive it all. I try every year not to do this, but each year I fail.
It's been sixteen years since that awful day. It sounds so long ago. Sixteen years! She's 20 years old now. So long ago but yet still so fresh in my mind. Especially on this day.
My little Aria is four years old. She is at The Age. -- every time one of my kids turns four years old I live in a sort of Year of Fear. I know it sounds silly, but for me the sweet age of four will always make me a bit nervous. Because I remember. I remember when one of my four year old's life was interrupted and changed in an instant. I remember the trauma of that day. The helplessness and the fear. The loss. I remember her fourth year being a year of complete sadness for me. I remember wishing she could have that 4th year to do all over again. Better yet, a do-over of February 17th, 1997. What would I do differently if I had that day to do over?
February 17th. Blah. This day on the calendar always brings me down. Maybe someday something wonderful will happen on this day and I will then think about it differently. I hope so. Maybe one of my future grandchildren will be born on this day or one of my children will get married on this day ~ something to make this day a celebration. But until something like that happens, this is a date on the calendar that I despise.
So I'm thinking all these thoughts on this date this year - my normal February 17th gloomy thoughts - and then I read this update on my 20 year old's Facebook page:
Sixteen years ago ...
My life changed for the better ... having a 2nd chance at life after getting into a really bad car accident ... my family wasn't ready to let go of me quite yet and because of them I am who I am today ♥All my sport dreams have came true with my added on disability I played soccer Did Horse - Back - Riding Was a cheerleader Girl Scouts for THIRTEEN years ♥Life is perfect and it only gets better and better each day ♥ Eight siblings to love .. another brother on the way ♥
And after reading that, I thought Wow...she has an amazing attitude. What's MY deal? If she can celebrate this day as something positive, why can't I?
I learn lessons all the time from my kids but never as many lessons as I've learned from this one. She always amazes me. While it's true that on February 17th, 1997 we almost lost this precious girl, it is also true that we did not lose her -- which is what she chooses to focus on. She even says her life changed for the better. The better! I don't think I could ever describe her brain injury as being "the better" part of her life, but somehow she sees it this way. I'm guessing that she's choosing to look at all her blessings instead of what she lost ~ the friendships she has made, all the siblings she has been given, her activities and all she is able to do instead of what she isn't able to do. Her outlook is truly inspiring to me, and again...she has taught me a lesson.