What is Strength?

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the phrases, “You are so strong.” “You’re the strongest person I know.”  or “Keep strong.” Not only after my daughter’s passing, but throughout my life in general.

I’ve never known how to respond to that. How do you respond after all, when it’s the last thing you feel? I’ve often wondered what the real meaning of strength is. Is it just passing life’s constant tests, trials & tribulations- the 3 T’s? Do you have to pass in flying colors, or does just barely count?

When our beautiful girl passed while visiting my mom in Bolivia, we were surrounded by immediate & not-so immediate family members on my mom’s side. Family members & friends that I’ve only met & seen less than a handful of times throughout my life, only because they live several thousands of miles away. The only real bond & connection we had, is that we are family. But that is all they needed to carry us through that first week of hell.

From day one at the hospital, they never left our side. They arranged for all the services afterwards & help with bringing our baby girl home. Thanks to them we survived those first few days.

Coming back home on a late flight, our family here was waiting for us at the airport. Just passed the gates, we arrived to our loved ones waiting with open arms, waiting to take us in, hold us & protect us. Exactly what we needed.

Our first night home, on the steps of our house there were flowers, cards & balloons of sympathy from family & friends. Not only ours, but Hailey’s too. Heartbreaking, but sweet.

From then on again, it was the support of our amazing family, friends, co-workers & the community we live in that made it bearable to breathe, in this new world of pain we were living in.

We were flooded with calls, texts, emails, cards, home visits, food, & offers for help in any way. My sister & a friend set up a fundraising page to help with the medical & funeral expenses. It was amazing how many people- out of the kindness of their hearts, donated. People we knew & didn’t know, or who just knew Hailey. Tears poured as I read all the messages, specially of the ones remembering our daughter. “Hailey was a beautiful girl inside & out. She was always smiling. She was so sweet. She will never be forgotten.” etc, etc.

For as long as I live, I will never forget.

During the beautiful memorial service or Celebration of Life, arranged by our wonderful family also, we gathered again with loved ones & friends. So many that just came to tell us how much Hailey meant to them.

For as long as I live, I will never forget…

What is strength?

Strength is when Hailey’s sisters & cousins volunteered to read hymns during the memorial mass in front of so many people & were able to do it beautifully….

Strength is when Hailey’s little sister Bella wrote a letter to her sister, to read at the burial service in front of family & did it beautifully…

I hope they will remember that always, specially in the future, when grief makes its surprise visits. I hope that in return, by remembering, it will give them back some of that same amazing strength it took to stand there & demonstrate that simple act of love for their sister.

I know it does for me & as long as I live, I will never forget.

……..

The truth is we don’t feel strong at all, but we know we have to be.

We are only still standing, because we are all leaning on one another.

We’ve only made if this far, because of all the wonderful people in our lives.

We are forever grateful, because we know not everyone is this lucky.

We are all still here, because of our love for daughters. All 3 of them.

…….

In times of grief, when the darkness threatens to swallow us whole, I think about all the others waiting in the light. Watching & waiting to pull us out, without even having to ask. Maybe, this is what keeps us strong.

Perhaps, that is what strength is. The ability to accept help of others, with the knowledge that there is a light…somewhere in the midst of all the dark.

 

strength

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noun \ˈstreŋ(k)th, ˈstren(t)th\

Popularity: Top 10% of words

Simple Definition of strength

  • : the quality or state of being physically strong

  • : the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force

  • : the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

 

strong

 

 

Bad things happen even to good people

Up until last April, we were a normal family of five. My husband, our 3 beautiful daughters & I. Not perfect, but perfectly happy. Our world was our family; our girls.

Living life like most, we did the best we could, to the best of our ability. Like many, we passed through many storms but were strong enough to overcome & survive them. Love, was the reason. 

Even after all the mistakes, we were good people. 

But bad things happen, even to good people.

Not just bad things. The worst unimaginable things.

It happened to us, while on a family vacation in Bolivia.

It was supposed to of been a vacation. A family reunion with my mom. The girls’ grandma; whom they never met. So much excitement & anticipation. Years & months of saving & planning. It was supposed to of been a wonderful trip filled with beautiful memories made.

Instead it turned out to be a nightmare. One that you can never wake from. One that reoccurs, night after night…

Just two days into our trip, our middle daughter Hailey fell really ill. We took her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.

She was supposed to of been ok after treatment. Even after receiving this life changing diagnosis, she was supposed to of survived. We should of left that hospital & Bolivia, holding her hands…all the way back home.

But we didn’t. We couldn’t. We never got the chance.

We lost our babygirl less than 24 hours of her diagnosis, to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).

She was just 10 years old. Two weeks shy from her 11th birthday.

Even today, using the word “lost” doesn’t sound just. Our insides felt as though we were robbed, punished…

We were robbed of our innocent little girl, without even getting a chance to fight for her life. She was here one moment & gone the next. A parents worst nightmare, come true.

Blind-sighted. Shocked. Devastated. Broken

As parents- how did we not know she was sick? How did we not pick up on any of the signs?

Denial. Disbelief. Guilt.

We didn’t know then, that is nature of this disease.

A year later, we are still learning.
We are still grieving.

We are still holding on, even if only barely. But blessed to have many below, to catch us if we fall.

But we don’t want to fall.

Hailey deserves more. Her sisters, Kayla & Isabelle do too…

We want to honor Hailey’s life & share her love & light with others, the same way she has with us.

We want her memory to not only live on with us; the lucky ones who knew & loved her- but everyone else too.

Hailey was beautiful inside & out. She was sweet, smart, funny, sassy & the sunshine in our lives. She loved babies, children & animals too…truly an angel. Our angel.

…….

Besides sharing her love & light, it’s also important that we share her story.

Because if this happened to us, it can happen to anyone. It has happened.

It keeps happening. 

This disease does not discriminate by race, age or sex. It’s not preventable. It’s devastating, even to those who survive diagnosis. The battle is lifelong.

Please educate yourself & educate others on the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes.

It might just save a life.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes/basics/definition/con-20019573

……..

I can’t say we are just a normal family anymore…

We are more.

Even with our shattered hearts, there’s still love there even deeper than before.

It has opened our eyes to what’s really important & even on the days when we question the universe, all we have to do is remember that love…

We still love and miss her. It still hurts. Everyday. 

But love, we have learned, always overcomes.

And despite everything, we are still good people….

But in honor & in memory of our daughter Hailey, we will strive to be better. 💜

us2

haileyangel

 

Who are we?

Letter to our Hailey:

“You are who you are, and you are what you are supposed to be.” H.A.E

You were just six years old when you said this out loud one day. I thought it was such a clever thing to say; something from the “out of the mouth of babes” category. Of course I had to share it on Facebook like most- my favorite place to share all the details of our lives. Specially anything to do with you & your sisters.

Funny quotes, sweet pictures, school events, family vacations…the list goes on. So many memories. It’s all there.

Looking back, I can clearly hear the annoyance in your voices & see the rolling of the eyes, “Mommy are you posting that on Facebook!?”

Why yes, yes I am.

………

Almost 6 years later, memories is all that I have left of you.

I can’t be thankful enough that I was one of those cheesy moms who took so many pictures. That proud cheesy mom who posted every note, card & quote. I don’t think I would of remembered it all.

Specially now, that everything is still a big blur. It’s been a year since you’ve been gone from us & we are still trying to make sense of it all.

You are who you are & you are what you are supposed to be?

Who are we now that you are gone? Where did you go? Was this the way it was supposed to be?

The only promise we can make, is that we will try & honor your life the best way we can. Our sweet Hailey.

This is a start.

We love & miss you. Every single minute of every single day.

Fly high, our Haileyfly.