I wrote the following last night and decided to wait to put it in until today…
It has been more than three weeks since Ava, Traci, and Isa were hit in their side yard. Ava is recovering slowly and with an unknown endpoint. I only mention it in such a fashion (with a pessimistic tone) because of the duration of time that it has been and the natural tendency to have emotional fluctuations and even a point of emotional exhaustion and frustration… but this is not what I have seen. Whenever you see Manny or Traci they are positive, upbeat, friendly, welcoming, encouraging, embracing, conversant, thankful, appreciative, and loving. You come to visit Ava and the atmosphere is similar to one that I have seen many times on the postpartum ward… a stream of revelers and well-wishers have come to join in the celebration. I am certainly not trying to imply that anyone is glad that this has happened, as much as it is that I am trying to convey the atmosphere in Ava’s hospital room. Whenever I have been over there, regardless of whom else is there visiting, the room has been filled with smiles, hugs, laughter, and pleasant conversation. And the more that I think about it, the more wonderful I think that it is. This is not a wake. We are not attending a funeral. Ava is alive and she improves with each passing day… this is and should be a celebration of life. And I think of Ava lying there, gradually registering her environment… gradually picking up and relearning the complicated social texture of the interactions and emotions around her… maybe not understanding the words but certainly understanding the tone of the emotions. Compassion… friendship… concern… love… laughter. If you were a fly-on-the-wall, then this is what you would see. If you were Ava, wouldn’t this be how you wanted the environment of your room to be? How could this positive energy be anything but helpful to her… to them… to all of us. As I write these words it makes me proud of all of you and makes me want to tell everyone else… “look at the great things that these people (you) are doing for this family!” You should be very proud because this loving environment has certainly served to prop up the Lopez family and allow them to continue to feed the positive energy that is felt when you enter that beautiful little girl’s room. I think how easy it would be to feel alone and losing hope without such support… but then there is you… writing, calling, visiting, sharing, hoping… spreading the word… praying…
While I do not feel so comfortable as to assume the emotions of Manny and Traci during such a difficult time, there is one thing that I truly feel that they would be in complete agreement with… that is… I know that if I were them, then I would say… “If I have done great things, then it is only because I have been lifted-up on the shoulders of giants… you.” Thank you for continuing to lift them up. You should be very proud of what you are doing for this very deserving family.
Ava… the party waits for you.
Then there was today…
Something occurred that I did not expect to happen for some time yet…
Manny was at the hospital by himself this morning, holding Ava. Part of Ava’s physical therapy is the equivalent to teasing. Give her a taste of her pacifier, then take it away from her. Leave it just out of her reach enough to have to try and get it… maybe just leaving it against her lips but not in her mouth… close enough that she knows that it is there but just centimeters away. Manny was doing a little “physical therapy” not letting her have her pacifier. She started to whine and whimper, even cry, then the unexpected… “Mama.” Then the “physical therapy” really started. “Say it again!... Say ‘Daddy.’”… “Dada.” AMAZING!!! There is just no better way to put it… AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING! And no one was there to witness it! Don’t worry it didn’t end there. Traci, Tina Frazier, Kym Pharris, Jeff Larkin and Manny were having lunch at the hospital together. Jeff was saying his goodbyes and had yet to hear her speak. Traci went to Ava and coached Ava, “Say bye-bye to Larkin.” Then… weakly…and slowly…“bye-bye.” AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING!
Ava continued to be coached, reiterating a variety of things… “Isa, Jack, Cali, peas (that’s please in baby speak).” AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING!
Jennifer called me crying this afternoon… “Ava spoke.” The visitor flood gates are sure to open now. I described a celebratory atmosphere in her room even before she spoke… it is gonna be Fiesta, Cinco de Mayo, the Chinese New Year, St Patrick’s Day, (and any other festive holiday that you want to include) all rolled-up into one. This is truly a day worth celebrating!!
We previously spoke of Traci’s heart melting when she got to hold Ava for the first time since her injury. I am sure that hearing Ava speak for the first time in more than three weeks made her heart fill with so much joy that she just wanted to erupt and yell down the hallway… “SHE SPOKE!!!”
Traci described this as “the best day of my life.”
AMAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING!
Ava, the party still waits for you, and thanks to today it is seeming a little closer now. Today we celebrate… tomorrow we forge ahead.