I am sure that most of you are aware by now that Ava returned home on Friday. There was a small, intentionally unannounced “welcome home” at the Roger’s Ranch community pool on Friday afternoon. Many people from the community were there to welcome Ava and the Lopez family and to let them know that they have been thinking of them and praying for them. As Ava was brought in to the pool area, an applause broke-out.
The applause was warming not only because of the community heartbreak that has been felt over these past six weeks, but also because Ava’s personality began to show itself to the community. As the applause continued, Ava waved like the homecoming queen sitting on the top of a convertible’s backseat during a parade. She is a character… and there are many people who are breathing a heavy sigh of relief to see these pieces of Ava’s character re-emerge.
Jennifer was telling me that when they took Ava home for the first time since 23Apr09, that there was no doubt as to whether or not she recognized her surroundings or seemed to feel comfortable. Upon entering the Lopez’s house a tiled hallway extends straight ahead until it opens up into a carpeted sitting area with a high vaulted ceiling and a connected, open kitchen. As you enter the sitting room there are a collection of children’s toys immediately to your left, on the floor. Upon entering the room, Ava immediately started reaching for the toys as if there was no doubt who they belonged to or whether or not she could play with them. These were her toys… and she knew it. Welcome home Ava.
The Lopez’s spent much of the weekend like any other family in June… poolside. If you were unaware of the tribulations that had fallen upon this family, then you would not think too much of seeing them at the pool… Jack swimming with his friends... Manny and Traci trying to teach Isa how to swim… Grandma sitting in a chair on the side of the pool holding the baby and watching the others from under the shade of the pavilion. Much of the time Manny or Traci would hold Ava and twirl around with her in the chest deep waters of the pool. To the outsider, there is nothing particularly different about this family, but to those of us who know… we know that there is something very special about this family frolicking in the pool in early June.
“Well what about ‘Ava, the party waits for you?’ Why wasn’t there more fanfare?” Well the party does wait for Ava, and while she has returned to her home, her rehabilitation continues and there is still much healing that is left to be done.
Lilliana Story and I were talking earlier today. She recounted to me that she was at an unrelated function and happened to meet someone who was on the Anesthesia team that helped care for Ava the night that she came to University Hospital. This person had not particularly followed along since that time. Lillian told her that Ava came home and gave an update regarding her nothing but miraculous, on-going recovery. The reply was essentially, “SHE IS ALIVE?”
Oh yes, Ava is alive. And of course I do not mean in the “her heart continues to beat” sense. Ava is ALIVE!!! Like “she will live her life and be a testament to this time in all of our lives” sense. She will be a testament to the invincibility of youth…of hope…of love…of determination…of prayer. She will one day have children of her own, and grandchildren. And she will be the matriarch to an entire lineage of people who almost never existed. And you should smile… knowing that you helped make it so.
As for Ava’s party, there will be one. It will be well publicized through this and other venues and all will be invited, but it is still a little early yet. Once a few more uncertainties are resolved, then we will start talking party plans. Everyone has been so very gracious and respectful through this trying ordeal. I am sure that everyone understands and anxiously awaits the “please come and celebrate with us the miracle of Ava’s life…”
While laughter has returned to the Lopez house, much work remains to be done. Sincerest appreciation for your continued prayers, support, generosity, and encouragement. Keep it coming.
Ava, the party waits for you.