Bright and early on August 9th of 2002, I walked into Sarah's room to wish my thirteen year old a happy birthday. A teenager. It did not seem possible that our girl was becoming a teenager. Sarah had been very sick the entire year leading up to this day. Truthfully, her first thirteen years on this earth were filled with ambulance rides, hospital stays and never ending doctors visits. There were evenings that none of us, including the medical personnel at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic, thought she would survive. It was only by our strong faith in God, a spirituality that had deepened over the years as we witnessed miracle after miracle, that allowed us to continue on and celebrate one more year.
And celebrate we did. First, we headed down to the Cleveland Art Museum.
The reflecting pond seemed a perfect place to recognize the significance of the day. I doubt that little Matt had any idea why this day had such meaning to us. I know TJ did though. He had lived through every single moment of the roller coaster ride we had been on. I worried that his scars were deep. Yet, I also recognized that he was such a support system for Sarah. He was always by her side, encouraging her in his own way. He had taken to music with a vengeance. I often thought it was a great outlet for him. He was not one to openly share his feelings, yet when he would get up on the stage with his percussion instruments, he performed well. It was his time.
I've always marveled at Sarah's ability to forge on with a smile on her face. Her personality is full of charm, sweetness and comedy. She is a funny girl. Don't let that fancy blue dress and high heeled shoes fool you. She would take any opportunity to make us laugh...
I can just hear her shouting out, "One, two, three...here I go..." I would of course yell, "Sarah, No. Don't jump." And then she would laugh and laugh. And so would we.
By the time Sarah's thirteenth birthday rolled around, I realized we were not in control. I had absolutely no idea what our future looked like, but I knew I was not walking alone. We had a higher power on our side. A plan with a purpose. As I look back, I recognize there were lessons to be learned. Some we passed with flying colors, others maybe not so much. One thing is for certain, I am eternally grateful that I was given the gift of that smile. The gift of one immensely precious girl.