RAISING A SURVIVOR NOT A VICTIM
It would have been relatively easy, like falling out of bed to raise Elle as a victim. After all, I divorced her Dad when she was only a year old and Elle's Father never really got over it. Choosing to punish me for doing so at the expense of Elle. Still I made a conscious choice not to fall into victimhood for either Elle or myself. There has always, even at the age of 1, been far more to Elle than the things that went wrong in her life.
The challenges that fell in Elle's lap would of course change her, but it was always up to me as her Mother to help her harness them in a way that shaped her, but never defined her. Alcoholic Father, scoliosis, abuse. Still when I got the call that Friday morning, I fell into the WHY GOD? WHY? Hadn't she been through enough already?
There sat my glass - half empty at first glance. Yet, on my second - Half Full. Elle had bleeding on the brain - a warning sign of danger. Over 45% of those who get a Brain Aneurysm, their first and only symptom is death.
On the five hour plane ride, I went back and forth wondering if my last "I Love You" to Elle over a cell phone would be my last words to my child ever. Or if the child I knew would be gone with just the tiniest of misstep of the surgeon's hand. As I walked through the open glass door - monitors beeping - Elle opened her beautiful big blue eyes - reached out her hand and said "Mom - I've missed you!" My Baby was still my Baby!
The next morning, Elle was walking around the ICU unit without help, kicking the repetitive (every 2 hours) cognitive tests out of the Ball Park! Laughing, talking as if nothing had happened. Other than the bandage tightly wrapped around her head - you would have never guessed that the prior 24 hours had even happened.
Although, Elle had passed the surgery with flying colors with no complications she wasn't out of the woods yet. The next ten days would be a dangerous wait and see game, a vigilant monitoring for complications, namely a stroke. So for 10 long day and nights, we waited and waited and waited. No complications.
Finally, the morning of day of 11 rolled around - Elle could possibly go home if her Angiogram was free of any issues. Luckily Elle continued to be blessed. Test results gave Elle a clean bill of health. By Monday evening, Raylan and I had returned Elle home to her apartment. The next morning Elle was up and off to school - back to her regular routine - telling me that I needed to get back to my life and she back to hers.
I've taken the lead most of Elle's life. This time, Elle took the lead all on her own - as if saying "Mom - I got this one." Elle could of easily chose to take up residency in victimhood, yet she chose to be a Survivor of her life challenge, like all of her other challenge. Brian Surgery has definitely shaped Elle, but by no means has it defined her.
A Resident Doctor treating Elle, who had a Brian Tumor at 18, shared some very wise words:
"You know something that very few people know - life can end or change at a moments notice. You've been given a gift Elle. Take time everyday to enjoy everything you can out of this life."
It's a choice to see the glass half full, to be a survivor of your own life. There are no guarantees - no full proof insurance - A+B doesn't always equal C. I know now, that everyday happiness boils down to being able to tell the people you love - I love you! A bonus is being able to share a laugh- a kiss - a hug! At the end of the day those are the only things that really matter in this lifetime and the only thing you will regret not doing if there is no tomorrow.
Brian Surgery: Part 2. If you missed Part 1 - click here.