Monday, July 18, 2016

Hair Wraps

Over the past few years, getting a hair wrap has become a big part of our Ocean City beach trip for Ava. It's a simple thing, which has become a summer tradition. She loves picking colors and showing friends her summer style.

It's funny what something as simple as a hair wrap can do to me now--it's a sort of emotional unraveling, full of reminders and continued gratitude.

Ava spent last August in Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. It was sudden, unexpected, loop-throwing, reality-changing whirlwind--deep breaths and prayer material. Among my most vivid memories of that month, are those of Ava making sure that the doctors, nurses, technicians, etc., didn't mess up her hair wrap. There were times when she wasn't aware of much that was going on around her, but you better not mess with her hair wrap. Other than their having to cut off metal at the end of it so she could get MRIs, the hair wrap survived the hospital.

As her sister Anna and I sat along the Boardwalk while Ava beamed getting her new "do," my mind bounced back and forth from last year to now. It's been a great year--after missing the beginning of the school year in the hospital, she was named MVP of her field hockey team in the fall (she wasn't expected to be able to play most of the season), earned honor roll every semester at school and Principal's Honor Roll for half of them, and finished her lacrosse season this spring with a two-goal game.

It's also been a trying year as a parent. Ava still has occasional seizures, as well as more frequent "spells," where she shakes and has trouble focusing or being able to respond to what's going on around her. Despite tears and protests, she had to stay out of the ocean and the sun for a day during the beach trip this past week, because she couldn't shake a series of spells that recurred throughout the day. We don't have it all figured out, and have just switched her neurology care to a new hospital after being thoroughly unimpressed with her last one. It's a process and lessons in seizure management.

When you look at the pictures above, it's hard to notice a difference in the two years. You can't tell what her eyes have seen or what she's been through. And that speaks to Ava. It's her personality; she rolls with the punches and looks to what's next--facing forward, not backward. She has taught me more than I can put into words.

I've tried to learn a lot of letting go over the past year. I've seen and felt the power of prayer and community. I'm trying to learn to hand over to God those things that are beyond my control (which is pretty much everything big). I am grateful for both Ava and Anna and the people they are becoming, and the blessings they bring to my life every day (or at least most days ;).

Our attitude towards what we find in life can color everything we encounter. I like this thought that the internet gives to Albert Einstein:

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

This morning I am thankful for sunrises--new days, new weeks, months, and years, and enjoying them all. And I am thankful for hair wraps. And Ava showing off this year's colors.

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