Saturday, July 6, 2013

Celebrating 2 Years

The Fourth of July was always a fun holiday.  Camping, picnics, swimming, parties, fireworks.  But in 2011, July 4th changed.  It's not just about our country or our freedom anymore.  July 4, 2011 was the day that we were admitted to All Children's Hospital for Kennedy's open heart surgery.  It was by far one of the worst two days of my life.  I remember every moment like it was yesterday, and yet it feels like it was an eternity ago.  I remember holding my sleeping baby.  Starring blankly into the dark sky.  The extravagant display of fireworks over the St. Pete Pier.  An amazing view of fireworks all over the Tampa Bay area.  Something I would normally enjoy.  Instead, I worried about what the coming hours would mean for our family.  I feared the idea of handing over my baby to a surgical team.  My worst fear was that we would have to leave the hospital with out our little girl.  People told me she would be fine.  I read blogs.  I knew that babies made it through this surgery all the time, and that although it was a complex surgery it was one that was done often and successfully.  But none of that eased my fears.  The next day, Kennedy rocked her open heart surgery like the superstar that she is.  July 5, 2011 was the day that we started living our lives again.

Last year, we celebrate July 4th at a hotel in downtown Tampa.  We kept Kennedy up way past her bedtime to see the fireworks.  As I watched the fireworks over the Bay, with her in my arms, I celebrated that her heart was fixed, and how far we had come.  In my eyes, it was her first real Fourth of July, and nothing could ever be better.

Until this year.  This year, I knew there would be no fireworks over the Bay.  It was time to make new memories.  Time to celebrate the two year anniversary of Kennedy's heart being fixed.  We kicked off the day by taking part in a children's parade.  Afterwards the kids got to explore a real fire truck.  Later that night, we met our family and the kids played with their cousins and enjoyed the Fourth of July festivities at a local event.  As I pulled them both in their wagon, I couldn't help but think about how much has changed in the past two years.  On the night before her surgery, I couldn't imagine what another Fourth of July would be like.  Kennedy celebrated by shaking her butt and dancing to the band, for the entire crowd to see.  And when it came time for the fireworks, she sat on the blanket, occasionally hopping from person to person, gazing into the sky, pointing at each one in amazement.  Clapping and cheering all along.  Caleb stared into the sky, reaching his arm out with each explosion, trying to touch them.  There we sat, surrounded by friends and family.  My mom and my brother-in-law were there.  The same people who were there on the night of July 4, 2011.  But let me tell you, the memories were so much better this time around.  As I carried my sleeping toddler to bed last night, I cried a few tears.  She continues to amaze me every day, and she has blossomed into such an amazing little girl.

Today was another day, that I couldn't help but think back to every moment of that emotional day.  As I laid in her bed snuggling her at 6:30, I thought about how that time two years ago the surgical team was wheeling her back. And as she swung from the bars and walked the balance beam at Little Gym this morning, I thought about how two years ago I was pacing the halls, waiting for the nurse to call us with an update.  I am forever grateful to the surgeon, and entire medical team that took such amazing care of my baby on that day.

What a difference two years makes!

Everyone loves you so much, superstar!!!