I Know

Today something happened. Something I'm not proud of.

A terrible tragedy happened just a few weeks ago to a woman who works in the medical clinic where I just started. Her 10-year-old daughter, Marlee, was climbing a tree and when she was 25-feet-high, the branch where her weight was placed broke, sending her plummeting to the ground. She has a broken back, severe spinal cord injury causing her to be paralyzed from the chest down, and bruised lungs that have forced her to be on a ventilator for nearly a month. It is a devastating situation and my heart and prayers have truly gone out to them ever since I heard the news.

Today she came into work for the first time since the incident. Not to work, but to get something she needed. (This is so not the point, but just had to let you know that I don't work for communists who force you to come in even when your child is in the ICU.) Just being around her made my heart break for her.... she's going through something very awful. But she was explaining how grateful she was that while the fall made her lose parts of her daughter, she still had the best parts and that was all that mattered.... her heart and her mind were still in tact and her lungs are expected to heal completely.

She started to tell the story of how Marlee hasn't been able to talk because of being on the ventilator. She said she was so worried she would never hear Marlee's voice again. But then yesterday, they were able to switch to a different type of vent that is a smaller caliber and when they put a cap on that, it put pressure on her vocal chords and allowed her to speak.

This is when it happened. A wave of grief came over me that I don't remember ever experiencing ever before. Here was this woman telling me about her awful situation and somehow I made it all about me. How jealous I was that she had the miracle I silently pray for every day.... to hear my daughter's voice. Don't get me wrong, I was still very happy for her that Marlee can speak and that she could hear Marlee's voice again. I just couldn't escape this overwhelming feeling that I wanted that miracle for myself.

I was thankfully able to control my emotions in front of this amazing mom, but I myself was very aware of these intense emotions welling up inside. And then on the drive home, I got wondering what I would like to hear her say. The main things I thought of were the things that I would never be able to think of on my own, things that only her unique little 3-year-old imagination could come up with. You know, the "kids say the darndest things" type of things. And then I thought how wonderful it would be to hear her say, "I love you." And then I kind of went to an even deeper, sadder place.

My sadness was band-aided when I got home, greeted by Chloe just thrilled to see me. She squealed and kicked in delight. She showed her intense joy at just getting to be around me after a short separation. After many minutes of hugging and kissing and laughing together, I was going to run a quick errand and have her stay with my mom so my errand could be that much quicker. When she realized I was leaving, she was sad. She didn't cry, she tries so hard to be tough, but her pout just about broke my heart. Needless to say, she came with me on my errand!

While us girls were out 'n about enjoying our time together as we always do, I said a little prayer that the sadness I was feeling would be replaced and that I would be comforted to know that Chloe communicates in her own special way.

Then this evening, after I put Chloe to bed, I read this post by Jenny of the kidz krew. It was about how she deals with knowing she may never hear her non-verbal child say those three little words. It was like this post had been written just for me to read on this very day. It was truly an answer to my prayer. Let me share just a snippet:

"As often as I tell her I love her, I don't feel the need to hear her say it to me anymore. I have come to realize that I know she loves me because I see it in her eyes ~ in her hugs ~ when she cries out and is comforted when I come to her aid ~ in her giggle of delight ~ in her cuddles ~ when she nuzzles into my chest ~ when she lays her perfectly tiny head underneath my chin ~ when she tries to squirm out of the arms of others when I walk in the room...because she wants to be with me...her mommy. So, even though hearing would be nice, I've decided just knowing it is more important to me."

This is one of my favorite pictures of Chloe, circa December 2007
She's sitting on my lap 'saying' in her own special & adoring way,
"I love you, Mommy."

Jenny shared this song by Meaghan Smith (whom I love by the way) and it is just too perfect. I'm sure the lyrics weren't written with non-verbal children in mind, but they fit our situation like they were.

It's in our hello
In the way your smile glows
And it's in our good bye
In the tear in your eye
And all in between
When you're lookin at me

I know, I know, I know
What you don't say

It shimmers through
In the things you do
When you write me a note
And send it by the post
What you might not sign
On that bottom line

I know, I know, I know
What you don't say

Words are not needed
And though my ears
Could be misled
My heart can hear instead
What goes unsaid

You'll leave me with this
A hug and a kiss
And that little phrase
Those three words
You can't say
But please don't feel blue
Cause I always knew

And I know, I know, I know
And I love you too

This post is dedicated to Miss Marlee. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she continues to heal.


Cynthia said...

Wow. So many emotions and my heart breaks for all of you. And yet- you take the time to ponder what you KNOW. How many of us Moms of mainstream kids think about that? I have been remiss and so I thank YOU for the gentle reminder.

As for Mis Marlee, my prayers will be with their family. One of my true friends became a quadrepeligic at 21. I met him when he was 23 and trying to put his life together. He'd had a tough childhood too and so very few advantages as well as a learning disability. But he had heart. I tutored him for 4 years and he eventually graduated from SLCC and led the graduation precession. He has since married and is now attending the U to become a teacher. All his life's dreams are STILL coming true.

I have a friend who was paralyzed at age 11 that is a Mom 3 times over and has a wonderful husband. All the dreams she has for Marlee and Marlee for herself are STILL as possible as they ever were. All the best to you all!

Shelly said...

Prayers to Marlee as she heals.

Tara, your consistant faith and optimism are so refreshing. Chloe's voice may be quiet, but those eyes of hers are amazing. They shine even in her pictures!!

You're so great!

Devon said...

Prayers for Marlee, and hugs and lots of love (and prayers too!!)for you, Tara.

Chloe is a beautiful child, and I agree with you--she says that she loves you in her own way. It is plain to anyone who looks at her that she is happy. She radiates the love you give her--shines it back to everyone.

Jenny said...

Oh Tara, I'm so glad that what I wrote was a comfort to you when you needed it. Isn't it funny how unhappy feelings creep up on us so unexpectedly? I don't like it. But then it seems as if something happens that brings me back to what I already know in my heart. Chloe is just gorgeous. I love that picture. Prayers to Marlee and her family.

April said...

Oh that was such a beautiful post... I've often thought that our little ones'language is so pure and from the heart-- their language might very well be how we speak to each other in heaven- with no words to get in the way.

Anonymous said...

Does Marlee have a blog or caring bridge?

Carina said...

Tara, I love you! Here I am worrying about my son with an infection. The worry overwhelms me at times, but at least I can hear him say what he needs. I am humbled whenever I read your posts. You are so honest and we love you for it.

I believe Chloe can tell you how much she loves you with that radiating smile and beautiful eyes. I am glad she was able to give you the love you needed when she showed her desire to be with you. Sometimes it isn't what my kids say that mean the most. It is their desire to be near me. My son's need for me to hold him as he goes through something scary. I know it is a blessing to hear their words, but I also know you have been blessed with a richer fuller experience because of the spirit that resides with your family. Angels are with you at all times. I hope to be a better Mom and to love them as deeply as you love your Chloe.

Chris and Kerri said...

Is Marlee's last name Wagstaff by chance? I think I worked with her mom at another Clinic?

Messy Jess said...

My heart goes out to everyone in this post. You are always so grateful for everything and your always thinking about how others feel. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Kristi Veale said...

Oh what a small world and community. Tara we heard of Marlee the day that this happend. This is one of my Emilie's best friends and she lives right around the corner from us. We have been waiting to be able to go up and see her and after reading this today. Today is the day we are going up there. Emilie and her friend Shyli made her a poster the very next day so that it could be put in her room and having her know her friends were thinking of her and hoping that she has a healthy recovery. I'm going to show Emilie the picture that you have of Marlee to see that she is still a happy little girl. My heart just dropped when I was told what happend to her. Thank you for the post.

Chris and Kerri...she is a triplett if that helps you! :)