As I looked lovingly at each and every photo I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride, not just for the girl with the unbridled spirt, but for the family of four who made being together a top priority. The bonds that developed between parent and child, brother and sister, and husband and wife were seamlessly tied together, leaving no doubt that we would put each other first…no matter what.
As I got to the latter part of 2012, I noticed that there were fewer pictures. There were no more soccer, softball, or diving pictures. Gone were photos from the family golf outings or pool-side vacations. Painfully, there was only one picture of me and my daughter—at the Christmas tea in 2013, because we no longer had the opportunity to get out and do things as most mothers and daughters are able to do. It was clear that the most recent archive of pictures and memories had somehow been lost.
My daughter was a gifted athlete ever since she was little. The local newspaper did an expose on her when she was just 12 years old, highlighting her ability to excel at every sport she tackled, from softball to soccer to golf, running, and skiing.
Yet she gave all of that up-a most incredible sacrifice-in order that she could spend precious time with her injured father. It was more important to her that she be at home than at the diving pool or on the soccer field. We encouraged her to continue on with her outside activities, but instead she selflessly gave her time to her loving father; a choice that she made from day one.
She spent every weekend at her father’s bedside during his 3 month hospital stay. When he eventually came home from the hospital, she accompanied me on every emergency room visit, even if it was in the middle of the night. And every day after school she rushed home, spending hours with him, giving him her undivided attention, comforting him when he was in pain or feeling low, and being a beacon of light in a world that was shattered with darkness. She missed out on many football games, school dances, and opportunities to be with her friends. But if you asked her, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
And now…as I prepare to say “Goodbye” to my youngest child as she goes off to college, I am left with an incredible feeling of gratitude. I am grateful to have been blessed with children who, at an early age, have embraced what it means to sacrifice, endure, put others first, to hope and most importantly, to love.
The turn of events of 2012 did not break a family. Although we have fewer pictures to share from that moment on, the life lessons that we have gained and that which is indelibly etched into our hearts and souls, is more important than any picture that we have tucked away in a box. Memories are not lost, and the beat goes on…