Welcome to this crazy pickle your older brother, 2016, created.
Not to be a tattletale but, 2016, to say it politely, was a bi-polar jerk. One day, he was super sweet. The next, he would walk in, smile at us and then flip our dining room table upside down.
While he was crazy and did whatever the heck he wanted to do, I will always have a soft spot for 2016. Because without him, I wouldn’t have learned, grown, cried and prayed harder than I ever have in my life.
2016 was by far the most challenging year ever. I faced things I never even could have possibly imagined I would be faced with throughout my lifetime, never mind in just a mere 12 months.
Within one year’s span I went from living in my grandmother’s room over the garage, to bedrest at my parents house and multiple hospitals, to an emergency OR, to 77 days in the NICU, then finally home in our new “it’s-never-gonna-be-completely-unpacked” home in Suffolk, VA.
I unexpectedly lost loved ones. I witnessed fellow NICU moms and dads hold their babies one last time, while fearing we could be next. We faced surgeries and scary procedures. I mourned and battled (and continue to battle) depression and anxiety.
But I also witnessed miracles and felt the presence of guardian angels. I witnessed love from family, friends, church members and strangers who hugged us, called me so I could cry because no words would do justice, brought us food, and who literally picked me up off the floor of the hospital, the nicu, my home and even during those random break downs in Home Depot and Target. I have witnessed my tiny 2 pound 14 ounce baby gain weight and “thrive” thanks to her magic button, proving them wrong by holding her head up, giggling, licking our border collie, and melting hearts with her crazy hair and dorky glasses.
I made new friends and met people who I would’ve never have had the opportunity to meet. I was reminded who my true friends and support system are. I’ve been beyond blown away at how outstandingly supportive our “village” is. I learned more about genetics than I ever wanted to know. I learned how to replace a feeding tube and a plethora of other medical tasks. I changed my first diaper. I celebrated my first Mother’s Day. I exclusively pumped for eight long and sleepless months.
And somehow we had time (and just barely enough energy) to go on vacation in the OBX the week after brain surgery, to go camping a few times with friends and to go to the river during the summer with family.
2016 packed a wallop. It was a storm. It was hard. It put things into perspective. It changed me.
But in the end, 2016 did his thing and here I am, facing you 2017. With bags under my eyes and faith in my heart. I know you aren’t going to be easy, dear 2017. I know we will face our hurdles together and have our fair share of tear-filled days. But you are new here so make a good name for yourself. You, 2017, are sparkling, fresh and full of HOPE.
And hope is exactly what my family, our country and our world needs right now. So let’s do it 2017! Let’s do this.
With hope, love and gratitude,