November 25th is Isabella’s four year anniversary of her Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). Each year we have decided to celebrate this day. Isabella has named it “Mommy and Isabella Day”. We spend the day doing the things that she wants to do together. This year we will be doing crafts, snuggling and making her favorite foods. I always give her a gift of some kind on this day. This year she asked for a “Mommy and Isabella Day” picture book. As I went about pulling pictures (since her ABI), collaging them and getting it all set, I was reminded just how truly amazing she is. To see this little 4.5 year old girl become this strong 8.5 year old “big girl” survivor- it is awe inspiring. I hope that someday Isabella can see herself as I do. Isabella has taught me so much over the last four years.
Isabella has taught me what it means to never give up. When the odds are stacked against her, she keeps on fighting. I think that fight is key in recovery. There was a time that it wavered in Isabella but I am grateful that it is coming back. I don’t know anyone else who would repeatedly sit up only to fall back and yet keep doing it until she could.
Isabella has taught me that bravery doesn’t mean that you aren’t scared. Bravery is being scared but doing it anyway. Isabella has debilitating anxiety, hallucinations and paranoia, yet everyday she wakes up and tries her hardest. Some days are harder than others but Isabella does it.
Isabella has taught me that being strong doesn’t necessarily mean that you are physically strong. The strength that is found within is more important because that strength helps you to endure the unimaginable and yet continue on anyway. Isabella has been through more in her short 8.5 years than most go through in their entire lifetime.
Isabella has taught me that miracles really happen and prayers really are answered. Isabella is living proof that sometimes things cannot be explained any other way. Prior to her ABI, I would have felt that there had to be some definitive answer. I now know that isn’t always the case.
Isabella has taught me to enjoy the small moments because truly those are what make our days’ worth living. This is a concept that is very hard to understand unless you have come so close to losing it all. I cherish the giggles, hearing “I love you”, hugs, the endless knock-knock-jokes, among many other things. There was a time that I thought I would lose her forever.
As “Mommy and Isabella Day” approaches, I encourage you to celebrate the survivor in your life. Survivors are some of the most resilient people we are blessed to meet. Like Isabella I hope that they “…always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think…” A.A. Milne
Guest Blogger, Kristin Olliney-Apruzzese, is the mother of 8-year-old Isabella, who suffered sudden acute encephalitis when she was just 4. Kristin’s bi-monthly blog, Mommy of a Miracle, talks about the trials and joys of raising a brain injury survivor.
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