Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary B!!

The day I met Dave I wanted to be with him. He had that smart, funny, cute thing going on. I am telling you, I had to chase this boy a little, (probably another thing I loved about him) but I caught him.

The day we started dating, I knew I wanted to marry him. I am NOT THAT type of girl AT ALL, I am not a hopeless romantic, I am fairly logical when it comes to this sort of thing, but I just felt it deep down in my bones! We were so young when we met (he 19 and I 22) that we ended up having our ups and downs and even broke up for some months.

Even after we were married, we would have it out! Can you believe mainly over the cleaning of the house. Who am I kidding, being who I am, that is not so far fetched now is it. After about a year to a year and a half of marriage, we really got in sync and have never fallen out of our groove. We have only gotten stronger year after year.

Today is our 8 year wedding anniversary and it is absolutely not how we imagined it to be. Regardless of the hell we are going through, I still feel it is a happy day and a reminder of how far we have come and how far we are capable of going in the future. I feel as though I am the luckiest girl in the world to have been able to find such a good man and he is SEXY to boot :)

Dave is one of the best people I have ever met in my life. He is sweet, considerate, smart, respectful, has a great sense of humor, he makes the best out of any situation, is an optimist, I could go on and on and on. If I made a list of what I was looking for in a man, every box would have a check mark in it. I have always loved all of these qualities, but I realized today more than ever, all of the above characteristics will get us through...no matter the outcome. He is my rock.

When Aviana arrived it was a huge adjustment on our part. We were first time parents and it was hard. I had always heard it was the most difficult thing. I quickly realized I had just NO IDEA how challenging it was. Through all of the challenges, we managed to always have so much fun. I have seen Dave in action with various children in our extended family, but to see him with Aviana was like seeing him with a child for the first time.

If you haven't realized it by now, Aviana is of the "rough and tumble" nature. She can hold her own with the toughest of tough. Her motto is, "the rougher the play, the better." We have always followed her lead and have built some of the BEST memories ever. I WISH so badly that my baby was here today to make her daddy a Happy Anniversary card, but it is OK. We will go on today and still celebrate the blessing which we do have, and that is each other!

I love you, B!!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

There Are Ups & There Are Downs

So, today didn't go as well as yesterday. When I arrived, the nurse (who worked with us all day yesterday) had just finished suctioning out her mouth. Aviana looked very still and was not responding to my touch. I asked if she has been moving and she said she had, when she was administering various treatments. I asked what kind of movements- good or bad, she showed a posturing demonstration. Posturing is NOT a good sign and is when Aviana turns her hands and wrists inward. I said OK so she is showing "bad movements" and she agreed.

I began to recap what the neurosurgeon had said about her purposeful movements and she had a look of disbelief on her face. She said every movement she has seen out of Aviana has been "NOT purposeful" and she had no idea why he would say such a thing. I gave her an example of one we were seeing yesterday and she confirmed that that one was purposeful. I definitely wanted to speak with neurosurgery again.

There is so much to this incident and I don't want to go into all the details, but the end result is water under the bridge. It does not change the outcome of what will happen with Aviana as that, I believe, is already written in the stars.

I spent the entire day with her trying to get her to move to no avail. At 1pm they reduced her sedation by 25% which I was hoping would increase her movements, but it has not. We just called Davis and Faith said she has not seen her move much at all and confirmed what the daytime nurse said, she too has not seen one purposeful movement. By Friday she will be off all sedation.

Since she has been maintaining her ICP's for so long, they are thinking of taking it out tomorrow and doing the MRI. By Friday, we will have a much clearer picture of what is going on.

We had been warned about the ups and downs. We have decided whether the news is good or bad we will now keep ourselves at an even keel. It does us no good to hang on their every word (good or bad), analyze, read into what is being said, etc. Whatever the outcome will be....will be.

I have to say, we are continuously SHOCKED by the outpouring of love and support from all of you. You are a beautiful constant while we are going through something unbelievably unstable. You are ALWAYS a bright spot in our day!! Again, we thank you so very much!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Someone IS listening!!!

Today we received the call we had been waiting for. At 6:47am the phone rang and it was UC Davis. Faith said they had a good night and were ready to start taking Aviana out of the coma!! She said they turned the paralytic off at 6:30 and asked us to be there in 2 hours.

Dave, my mom, Gary and I arrived at UC Davis and began playing her some Gary Allan, Butch Walker and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We were talking and talking and talking to her. She had VERY little movement at first, but then we started seeing her little toes move, then her little hands. She twitched her nose, at times we could see her eyes moving behind her eyelids. It was one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL things I have ever seen. I normally describe the greatest of all things as "music to my ears" THIS was "Aviana to my eyes."

Her movements became more frequent. She was grasping our hands, straightening her feet....I could not believe my eyes. My protective barrier was questioning...were these TRUE movements or were they just natural movements of her coming of the paralytic?? Were these just reactions?? I questioned every move, but yet LOVED every one for whatever it was worth. She slowed some at one point so we went downstairs to get some coffee. My Mom and Gary remained by her side. When we returned they were in the waiting room. They said the nurses were changing some tube or something and Aviana was agitated (our little spitfire) and was moving her arms and legs. We were able to go back in 30 minutes later.

She was maintaining her ICP's through all of this. In this time, we had contacted Sgt. Merenda and let him know what was going on. He was there by her side in what seemed like a flash. He stayed along with us, by her side, witnessing this wonderful occasion. At this point the neurologist came to talk to us and said Aviana was making many PURPOSEFUL movements in all of her limbs. This action was very encouraging to him. Especially because they have only taken her off of the paralytic and she is still under heavy sedation. He said they were going to start to ween her off of the sedative tonight and see how she does. He said this was a good step in the right direction. What...what was this....was I hearing this right...could it be some good news?? That it was, and even better...he wasn't finished. He said tomorrow he will see if she could follow commands, if so, he said there was no need for neurosurgery to have the dreaded family meeting. We would be able to have just weekly update meetings with the PICU doctors.

I wanted to scream WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO. I refrained though, while we were on cloud nine, we realized this is ONE, very good, small step of about a million. We still have so many unanswered questions. While we were talking to the doctor, Sgt. Merenda was motioning to me to look at Aviana in the room. I looked over and they were suctioning out her mouth, she was NOT liking this and raised her left arm about 4 times. If I know my little girl like I think I do...she was saying get this OUT of my mouth NOW!!

My cousin Erin then came to visit Aviana, I told her of all of the movement, but when she came in Aviana would not move. The nurse explained that she was asleep. I looked at her with a blank stare. How do you know this?? When she is awake she does not use the ventilator, but when she is asleep, she uses it more. Ohhhh, OK, makes perfect sense.

We are so tired and are going to bed pretty soon, we will be fresh and ready to go again tomorrow. Thank you to all for your continued love and concern!! Thank you so much to Sgt. Merenda. We were so happy to finally meet and get to know you!! We appreciate you spending your Sunday in support of us! Goodnight :-)

Mickey Mouse Just Knows......

We went to visit our little pumpkin tonight and she not only had her beloved Lamby, but Mickey Mouse was in her other hand. I was so confused.

I asked the nurse....who brought in Mickey Mouse???? She said, "maybe Mickey brought it to her" (with a big grin on her face.) She then brought a picture over to me,(which I left for Aviana)it was lifesize Mickey and Minnie, right by her bedside. Brings big tears to my eyes just thinking about it now. This single act made my ENTIRE day and I know it would have made hers too.

Can you believe it....I didn't even have to send him a letter!! Maybe THAT is why their ears are so big....to hear all of the children, even when they are unable to speak ; )

Thanks Erin...for visiting and having your camera handy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


We called and Aviana's numbers look really good. They said her ICP is 12 and all other numbers look really good. I am sorry this post is so short and so late. We are running out the door now to go visit her. I promise a longer post sometime soon....I still have so much to say, but have not had the energy to write. Thank you again to all who follow and care so much for Aviana :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

So Consumed and Confused

So Consumed and Confused, So Consumed and Confused,
So Consumed and Confused, So Consumed and Confused,
So Consumed and Confused, So Consumed and Confused,
So Consumed and Confused, So Consumed and Confused,
So Consumed and Confused, So Consumed and Confused

What Actually Happened Yesterday.....

We were brought to our knees yesterday. I was unable to form the right words for the blog until now. I sent an e-mail to my new friend Trina (the Godsend who posted comments under the title Nana & Papa) and I will just include some of what I wrote to her....

"Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I have not been able to talk, type or anything today. That is up until now. The goal for this week has been for her ICP's to be under 20 for a 24 hour period and they would begin to take her out of the coma. They did end up having to give her one dose of medication to bring them down at one point, but said that was it.

We brought my mom and Gary in to see her yesterday and the nurse said the scans were not looking good. She has only had CT scans thus far, but they are trying to make sure she is stable enough to do an MRI which they are hoping to do today or this weekend. We decided to talk to the doctor and in a nutshell, she told us over the past four days they were looking for more improvement, which has not happened. She said the scans are looking bad and the damage is more global than one single area. She said she doesn't believe she will ever walk, talk or eat again.

They set a family meeting today to meet with all involved (neurosurgeons, doctors, etc) and then called at noon to reschedule saying they could not meet today. I reminded her of stories of recovery when the child was pretty much written off and she did not have much hope for us. She said she can't be 100% sure, but this is what the scans are telling her.

Trina is an unbelievable person who has nine (yes, NINE) children and still finds the time to help me (a complete stranger) to navigate through this horrific ordeal. She sent numerous e-mails today with support, love, hope, information, what to look for, questions to ask, what to expect now and in the future...you name it, it was there.


"Science Goes Only So Far And Then Comes God."

The doctors at UC Davis are WONDERFUL, but we let one of them get the best of us yesterday. That's ok though, it was bound to happen.

We have all picked ourselves up, dusted off, and will continue to push on. It's not over until it's over, and we WILL NOT lose hope!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Aviana's Peeps

All I can do to consume myself is try and get in contact with anyone who knew her or knew of her. I feel she needs EVERYONES support in ANY way possible. I have been taking her to the gym with me since she was 11 months old. They know and love her so much there. She even went to about 3-4 months of preschool there. From day one, Aviana has walked in like she owns the place. Whether it was the front door, the door to the child care room or the preschool door. She walked right through and was ALWAYS happy to be there.

Although she never talked much, her presence was always known and loved. This was one of the most difficult calls for me to make and I was thankful Natasha was not there at the time of my call. I was able to get her e-mail address and let them know. If I heard her voice, I would have lost it right there. I was crying before I made the call and while typing her e-mail. The thought of how much Aviana enjoyed being there broke me!!

I am going slightly crazy and I know it. Aviana's two favorite musicians are Gary Allan and Butch Walker. She can hear one single note and know. I have NO idea where she got this from : ) Suddenly, I thought it a GREAT idea to write to them and ask for their thoughts and prayers.

Sounded like a good idea!! Oprah is next....if I could write Mickey Mouse...I would!!! Like I said...slightly loopy, but just going CRAZY without her : (

P.S. Natasha, thank you so much for your e-mail!! I know all of you are pulling for her.

Wonderful E-mail Sent To My Brother

Rick…during my first six months in Arizona, my oldest daughter has hit by a pickup truck in a cross walk. Before my wife and I even knew of the accident, she was airlifted to the hospital and into life saving surgery. When we got to the hospital, they escorted us into a room, where a chaplain was sitting. The message was not very good and they were preparing us for the worse. Her skull had been fractured into a pie shape with the point of the fractured piece lacerating her brain. Ribs were broken, a lung punctured and her right arm broke. After the surgery…she was kept in a coma to allow time for her head, body to start healing. I can’t remember exactly for how long she was it the coma, but it seemed like an eternity as her fate was still unknown to us. But I do remember that after she was released from a coma…she was in a infant like state for ~3 weeks…and I do mean extremely limited motor skills, speech impairment, etc. Then one day…on one of my daily visits to the hospital, it was if somebody or something, flipped a switch in her…and the 12 year old Tina we knew was instantly back! As for the after effects….yes, Tina does stand a chance of being epileptic at some point in her life because of the injury to her brain…but for now she has worked her way through college, has a graduate degree and she is a program manager for a software company reporting directly to a Vice President. She has a child of her own…and every day is a gift for her as it is for us! I share this personal experience with you Rick, as a message of hope and faith. Good things can and do happen Rick…you just need to believe!


Me: Aviana, can you please tell me the story of how you came to Mommy and Daddy?

Aviana: Mommy, Daddy, flew plane (hand gestures flying through sky) Guat-mala, baby there, came home, room (sometimes adds in room, sometimes not) Kama, Zoe.

Conversations with Avi

One of my favorites-

Me: Avi, what does Papa call you?

Aviana: Papa calls me chocolate eyes

Me: Avi, what does Nana call you?

Aviana: Princess

Me: Avi, what does Mommy call you?

Aviana: Pumpkin Pie

Me: Avi, what does Daddy call you?

Aviana: Dave (Avi giggling)

Me: Avi... what does Daddy call you?

Aviana: Dave (trying to be slightly serious, still giggling)

Me: (laughing) Avi, come on, what does Daddy call you?

Aviana: Daddy calls me baby (with a huge smile on her face)

I SO miss our conversations throughout the day!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dave's Thoughts

This post is being written by Dave. Jen has been doing such a wonderful job on this blog, but I felt compelled to share some of the thoughts that I have been having. I think the biggest thing for me is how much this whole experience has really put things into perspective for me. I think back to some of the things I would worry about before this all happened and how insignificant those things are now. I used to worry about how soon the stock market would turn around so my retirement account will recover. I would worry about how soon the economy would improve so some day we can maybe buy a bigger house. Oh how things have changed. I used to wake up and hope the Dow was up. Now I wake up and hope my daughter's ICP levels are down so she can maybe come out of a coma soon. I sit there talking to the attending doctor and he is giving me updates on Aviana's status. I can't help but think to myself that this guy just looks like some average guy I would see walking down the street. But in actuality he is a brilliant doctor that because of these circumstances has my daughter's life in his hands. I'm talking to the nurse who will be watching over Aviana for the next 12 hours overnight and she's telling me that she just graduated 2 years ago. 2 years, that's it. Are you sure you know what you're doing? But I reassure myself that these are the best of the best and she works here for a reason. I have to admit there were times at the beginning that I had moments of weakness. I would think "what if I never see my beautiful daughter alive and laughing again" or "what if Aviana ends up brain dead and is forever dependent on breathing machines to live." But then I tell myself how the hell can I expect her to stay strong and fight if I am not. What a hypocrite I would be. I know she will make it through this. I have always said that she is the toughest little kid I have ever met. If there are other kids that have made it through something like this then I am confident that she will too. Today was the first day I went back to work since the accident which means it's the first day she didn't run up to me yelling "Daddy's here" when I walked through the door. I miss her so much.

Back To Medication

Aviana's levels got up to 28 this morning so she had to go back on both medications. She was currently at 14 for a while, but simply because of the medication.

I guess she is just not ready yet...she is teaching us our lesson in patience and we both needed it...especially me at times!!

Leave It To Mom....

Leave it to my mom to take me out of my blubbering mess....just the sound of her voice and her funny stories in Brendish (I may go into it someday, but will leave that one for the few who know about it now.) As she was telling me her story, I could only wish I was a fly on the wall (or a bee in the tree) with a camera, or better yet a video camera.

Last night, my mom decided she wanted to learn how to mow the lawn. If you have seen their backyard, you are aware that it is like a miniature park. Aviana's paradise. My mom kicked on her tennis shoes, pulled up her hair and busted it out row by row. I love the visual of that, but what really gets me is the beaten and battered old man with a cane (who looks like he got hit by a car....oh wait a minute, he did) following behind!!

She loved her new adventure, and they were both so proud of her. I am so proud of her. She seemed surprised by herself though and all I could say was, "Are you kidding me, everything you do you have always done to the BEST of your ability." Sorry Mom, I'm not one bit surprised!

From Sarah's Blog

I wanted to share what our friend Sarah wrote on her blog. Sarah, Peter and Lily have become some of our newest and most wonderful friends.

If you asked my daughter how to describe this little person seated next to her on this here swing she would without a doubt say, "Aviana my be-est friend." There is always this sing songy way she says best. Whenever we go to someones house or to a park Lily asks if Aviana is going to be there. Aviana is truly my girls first friend.

I have grandiose plans of sleepovers, and smores, and giggles about boys when I see these two play together. They are two peas in a pod. Aviana is the perfect amount of daredevil to make my girl do things her timid personality wouldn't normally do. (MY FAVORITE SENTENCE- this is me typing this) Like go down a slide or sit her butt on a big girl swing. This family is my dream come true, really we get along fabulously with Jen and Dave and our daughters are not only from the same country of birth but they also play so very well together.

I asked Jen before doing this post because the last thing I would want to do is to add to her pain. Aviana and her Papa were struck by a car this past week and Lily's sweet friend is fighting for her life. There has not been a minute of the day since I found out about this tragic event that I have not been thinking of my friends. So in posting this I just ask for your prayers for Aviana and her family."

From Sarah- June 21

If You Are Out There....

I stopped typing for a moment, called UC Davis, have to call back in an hour, paced a little, got moving doing laundry.

It's all not working right now, too many memories, too much routine with Avi, suddenly too much to bear..... Please... your funniest joke, story, anything....I need to laugh and don't want to continue crying!

Somewhat Prepared

Caution, caution, caution: This is going to be a long one, and may be ALL over the board!! Up until about 7 years ago, I could not look at blood, see anything on TV that was gross and of course nothing gross in real life.

One of my all time favorite channels is Discovery Health. Back then, I was having a hard time watching this channel. I found it annoying to be watching a story, and continually have to look away or cover my eyes. One day, they were showing brain surgery. I forced myself to watch it and every time I wanted to look away, I chose not to. After forcing myself that one day, I have been able to watch EVERYTHING since.

My favorite shows on Discovery Health are Dr. G Medical Examiner and Mystery Diagnosis. These two shows have armed me with numerous medical terms and conditions. Also with the reality of what needs to be done at times. I am so thankful for having watched these shows as I would never have been able to handle what the doctors were explaining in regard to removing her skull and letting her brain expand. I would never have been able to see my baby with 5000 staples in her head, blood in her hair, hooked up to a hundred machines with a thousand tubes, etc.

I am also an avid Oprah show watcher. Aviana sees her face and excitedly says "Mommy...Oprah!" She has helped me in ways I cannot begin to fully comprehend. She has continually helped and aided my spirit along. Through watching her, and her guests.....I strive to be a better person daily....a stronger person.

In the last year and a half, stories of death and dying have attracted me more than ever. At times I feel slightly morbid. I quickly realize it is not being morbid, it is seeing strength in people. In turn, I have tried to draw strength and appreciate life.

I had never listened to one note of country music until I was 30. I wouldn't have it, and wouldn't hear of it. My brother Jeff (who felt the same way I felt) started trying to talk me into some. I thought he had turned on me, betrayed me in a way, I thought we were the same (just kidding, I'm being dramatic) :)

I turned out to be a freak, and left him in the dust with his handful of country artists. One day, Gary Allan appeared on the screen and I was mesmerized, almost hypnotized. I have only felt this way about a few artists (and I LOVE music.) I had to get every song and know everything about him. Where had he been? Why hadn't I seen him? After all, I had been keeping up with country music for maybe a couple years by then. Why did he look oddly familiar? I jumped on the computer and realized I had seen him on Oprah. His dear wife had committed suicide. I lost myself in his music, drew strength from his lyrics, voice, everything.

He happens to be one of Aviana's favorite artists of all time (him and Butch Walker.) She can hear just one note of ANY song, and say, "Mommy, Gary Allan (or Butch Walker)." Anyway, back to the walk on the dark/light side (whichever way you see it.) I became consumed with Randy Pausch (who fought pancreatic cancer- author of the "Last Lecture"), then with Matt Logelin (who lost his beautiful wife just 27 short hours after she had given birth to their sweet Madeline. Through Matt, I was lead to Always Remember, One Note Short, The Price of Love and most recently, The Spohrs Are Multiplying.

All of these shows, artists, lyrics and blogs were perfectly put in place for me. I feel blessed beyond belief to have some aces to pull from my sleeve at different times of the day!

Mommy, Mama, Mother, Mom

Whatever you want to call it, I ALWAYS wanted to be one. If I am being honest, I have never really been a kid person. I haven't gone through life looking at kids and felt my heart melting at the sight. I have however always wanted so desperately to be a mom. Any of you who know us, do know we had to fight hard to be blessed with our little one.

We went through years of infertility and all it involves. Endless trips to the doctor, at just the right times, drugs, injections, sticks, tests, tubes, viles, you name it. At that time, I felt as though it were the hardest time of my life. Finally, we were faced with the choice of IVF or adoption, we chose adoption. It felt like the natural next step for us, so we proceeded.

Many people think you just simply decide you want to adopt, and then get your baby. For all my adoptive mamas out there, we know that just isn't the case. The adoption process was another rollercoaster I wanted to get off, but pushed through and pushed harder than I had ever in my life.

Once again, I felt as though that HAD to be the hardest time of my life. We are now faced with the absolute most challenging time of our lives. We fought hard to get her, and we will fight harder to keep her.

I'm ready, I've got my boxing gloves on, I'm in the ring, and all I have to say is, "I'm gonna knock you out!!"

Blog Overload

Out of control thoughts! This blog is keeping me so occupied and clear.....am I going to just keep posting, post after post, until Dave walks through that door??

Maybe, maybe not.

Life is uncertain on every level, even on the smallest of levels.

Thank You!

I still need to figure this whole blog thing out (maybe today would be a good day.) On Facebook, and through e-mail, I am able to thank each and every person for their comments or whatever it may be. Through this blog, I don't know (yet) how to make sure a person gets my comment. Frustrating!

I want to thank all of you who comment or don't comment and just read (I have always been a blog lurker, I rarely comment, but hold these people so close to my heart and think of them throughout everyday.) I am going to change my ways though, I will comment and comment and comment, because I now know just how powerful every word is, and how much each one has meant to me.

I want to give a heartfelt shout out to my friend Summer. We were not eating, and still continue to eat very little throughout the day and night. She called right when she got back into town from Wisconsin and asked if we needed food, I said no thank you. She brought one of my favorite meals over anyway. Dave and I devoured it over the next two days. She has continued everyday to bring food, think of food, call to ask specifics of where I am with food, what I am currently grossed out by, etc.

I was a vegetarian for 12 years, so she knows that although I eat meat now....I am so particular about it, and many times just simply pick around it! She, like others, has just known exactly what we needed!! I love you Summer!


I should never say I am truly alone, I have my absolute best friend by my side 24/7. Kama has been with me for 6 years and wherever I am she is. When I used to work in insurance I used to work from home a lot, but also went out to claims.

Unannounced to them (Farmers Insurance or my insureds), I always took her with me. Whether I was going to a claim in Roseville or Lake Tahoe she was by my side. If it is a cool day, I take her EVERYWHERE with us. She was/is my co-pilot for life. She has always been by my side day and night. I have always been an animal lover through and through and she is the most comforting being in existence.

She knows something is wrong, but yet she does not have to find the right words or any words for that matter. All she has to do is come curl up next to me or look my way. Every moment with her is the most perfect moment!

As my dad has always told me- dog spelled backwards is GOD. That is not a coincidence!


I've always liked being alone. I used to work from home and loved just being here in the peace and quiet, to my own devices. I always felt extremely productive and completely in my very own element. I was always so clear minded at home....alone.

My mom could never and still, will never understand this fact. She does not understand how I could possibly be her daughter. For all of you who know her, she is the biggest social butterfly you have ever met. I have never been one who needs to be surrounded in people, in an office atmosphere, talking all the time.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going out, when friends come over, etc. but over the years I feel I have become slightly more of a recluse and have never fought it, I find complete comfort in it.

Today is different. I am different. Everything is different. I miss the noise, it feels too quiet, I am too alone with my thoughts. That being said, I still do not want to be surrounded in people, I don't want to go anywhere and don't want anyone to come to my house.....I do have one want and exception though.....I want that beautiful little, sweet spitfire here with me!!!!

P.S. A mothers instinct is incredibly strong. I offered to take my mom and Gary to a doctors appt. today and they were supposed to be here in about 10 minutes. My mom just called and said she doesn't think I should go and she is going to go without me. She knows I am alone for the first time and said she thinks it is best I stay home, as I have a lot of thinking and other stuff to do.

I got goosebumps....she knows me better than I ever thought!

Surprise, It's Mickey Mouse!

Mickey Mouse showed up on our doorstep today. Many of you know that Aviana has a Mickey Mouse obsession. I never knew he could look so good!

One of my best friends in the world sent over an Edible Arrangement, what an absolutely beautiful creation. My favorite part was that the pineapple pieces were in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head.

Thank you so much Jen!!!

Down Baby Down

Aviana's head pressure is slowly but surely dropping. In an hour and a half, she will have been off medication for her head pressure for 48 hours total. She has been maintaining between 19 and 21. We are so incredibly happy about this. While visiting tonight they said once she maintains under 20 for a 24 hour period they will turn the paralysis medication off, and within 30 minutes she will no longer be affected by it.

They will then slowly ween her off of the sedation medication. They said it could take a while for her to wake up from then on. She is on the maximum amount of this medication. Once off sedation, a wide range of things can happen. Our nurse said some children wake up and are trying to rip the tubes out of themselves, and others don't do much. Dave and I looked at each other with a knowing look and proceeded to tell the nurse we believe she will be the one pulling the stuff out! In our hearts we are just praying she acts in this manner. I can't even think of the alternative...it makes me cry.

On another good note, our nurse said Aviana's lungs sound absolutely fabulous (her exact words) today. She said they sound better than they have ever sounded. The respiratory doctor came in while we were there, looked at all of her numbers, listened and agreed completely. All very good news today : )

Our day went well and our spirits were high, at times insanely high. It sure feels good, to feel good. I have been alternating days like clockwork....good....bad....good....bad. Dave is going into the office for a couple of hours tomorrow and I am bound and determined to wake up positive, and stay that way throughout the day! Wish me luck.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Our Visit

We arrived and were greeted by a nurse I had never seen before. We found out they had taken Aviana off a few medications. The one to raise her blood pressure and the one to bring her head pressure down (ICP's.) A few days prior they were having trouble keeping her blood pressure up. They said back in the day they wanted it to be up, but not too high. Nowadays, they want it high, as though you have a pounding headache. When I looked at the monitor, her blood pressure was at 88, I was so excited...she was doing that on her own!

I asked the nurse if that was good and she said she thought it was too high and was going to consult the doctor to see if they should administer medication. I was confused (seemed conflicting as to what I had heard the prior days.) After an emotional breakdown just an hour earlier, I felt the wind falling from my sails. She checked and I felt revived when she came back and said the doctor said her blood pressure was good and to leave it.

At 2am they stopped giving her the medication to lower her ICP's. They wanted to see if she would have spikes or if her levels would continue to climb. If they did, they would need to begin meds again. The whole time we were there, she was between 20 and 24. Same as the prior day with medication. We felt over the moon.

We stayed to talk to the doctor and all I have to say is, you win some and you lose some. She was stoic, unemotional, routine, going through the motions, disconnected (not what I had hoped for when my mom visited.) She could not seem to utter one genuine word of hope....of any kind! She barely spoke to us and then asked if we had anymore questions, without a beat I said NO. I wanted to get out of there, run, not cry, as my mom stood beside me tearing up. I wanted to scream "throw me a freakin' bone lady." It doesn't even have to be a bone, just one bit of a kibble and bit...anything.

We kept a positive attitude and walked out of the hospital talking about only good things! As we were driving away...I found comfort in one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies..... "Science only goes so far, and then comes God."

Doctors, nurses, people are all different. They can say what I want, what I don't want, what I wish they would say or not, but it really doesn't matter because in the end, what will be...will be.

Unexpected Hit

I woke up feeling good, positive, in good spirits. I began having anxiety and it just continued to escalate. Today was the day.  My mom was going to see Aviana for the first time. I have thought of this day plenty of times, actually planned for it. We have prepared my mom, we've told her what the doctors have said, we have described what Aviana looks like, and have even showed her pictures so it won't be such a terrible shock. Every time the thought of today has entered my mind, I've coached myself...be strong,  don't fall to pieces, you can do this. I've had to be stronger than I ever thought possible for her in this past week. I can vouch, the saying holds true, "You never know how strong you are, until being strong is only choice you have."

This blog has done a great job of calming my nerves and giving me a great sense of peace. About an hour prior to her arrival, I couldn't think of any better way than to post on here. After all, I couldn't just start installing a few pieces of wood floor in that short of a time. I sat down, stared at the blank canvas within my mind for a few moments, began reading some uplifting comments, and then decided to post some of my favorite pictures of Aviana. It seemed I could handle it. Let's just say I bit off way more than I could chew! There were so many, and I felt I couldn't just leave this one out, or that one, for that matter. The snowball began rolling downhill. It gained momentum with a quickness. Faster than I ever expected or could handle.

Through tears, I looked at the clock. "My mom!" I ran over and popped a pill in hopes of a quick calming effect. Poor pill didn't even have a chance. Tears were falling faster and faster. I was beginning to lose control. My mom was going to be showing up at any minute. The last thing she needed was to see me like this! The problem is, I am Type A, through and through. So what do I do? Even in great despair, I cannot start something, and not finish, for that would be criminal! I continued to push through, get it done. I then went into what Oprah describes as, "the ugly cry," and boy was it ugly! When my mom walked through the door, I was uncontrollable, inconsolable, but yet still attaching picture after picture, as she was trying to pry me away from the computer.

All of a sudden, in her eyes, BLOG = BAD. To no avail, Dave was trying to tell her that this was the first time this has happened. I didn't know what I attached, where, the order was all messed up....I couldn't see for goodness sake. I finally called it "finished" and walked away!

Double pictures, bad order, I say...whatever, and I want so badly to mean it!  The magic, little blue pill kicked in, and I somewhat re-grouped. I said I was sorry to my mom, hugged her and we were off!


This was a huge mistake to post these pictures. I just completely DESTROYED myself! I don't know what I was thinking!!!! We are going to visit her right now.

All Time Favorites!


After the accident, one of the first things we did upon entering our home was close Aviana's door.

Tonight, we decided to open her door. She will be coming home, whether it's in 4 months, 6 months, or however long, there's no need for it to be closed anymore!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day News

I'll keep it short, because we are going to my mom's right now as Gary has just returned home : ) We just got back from the hospital, we spent a lot of time with the nurses and doctors, and of course Aviana. Things are looking pretty good!!!!! She is pretty stable and UC Davis seems to be very positive and in good spirits. He assured us he would be completely honest with us, and if things were looking bad he would be sure to let us know.

We are a very long way away, but we are so happy and feel so blessed by everything that was said about her condition at this point. He still said there will be a lot of ups and downs along the way, but that is expected with every case. She will be in the hospital for months and it is unknown when she will be released from the induced coma....it could be the middle of next week, it could be two weeks, it could be longer.

Every child is different and he said she will let us know when she is ready. I am sorry to be so short, but we are excited to go see Gary and then my mom, Dave and I will be going back to Davis to visit some more!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Roller Coaster

When I was younger a roller coaster was just that, a fun amusement park ride that I looked forward to, at all times. All the way up until I became a mom, this served as my simplistic definition. Aviana is of the sassy/sweet variety, and always has been. It was when she began talking though, that I realized the abrupt jerk in my definition of the word roller coaster. It was then that I felt all these strange ups and downs, hairpin side to sides, and frankly just all over bumps in the track. This occurred everyday, and was quite odd for such a former, stable, run of the mill, person like myself.

Allow me to paint you a picture of what I'm talking about. Once Aviana began forming words, she started having these things called, opinions. I'd like to say she had more "opinions" than the normal child. If I say, black. She says, white. If I say, white. She says, purple. If I say, Target. She says, Costco. If I say, Mall. She says, Store. If I say, pasta. She says, no pasta mommy...cottage cheese. If I say, ok...cottage cheese. She says, no cottage cheese....yogurt peach, please!

I think I have made my point here, maybe even beaten a dead horse (I never liked that saying, but I don't know how else to put it). I found this game cute at times, and extremely frustrating at others. All I can say is...I'd welcome that game any day of the week, and at this point, have the biggest smile on my face throughout.

I once again have a completely different definition of the word roller coaster.

Roller coaster = the most awful ride of my entire life.

I've had enough thank you....can I please, please, please, get the hell off?!?


I am currently too scared to call the hospital and check on Aviana right now.

Maybe later.

No news is good news though,



Gary was going to be released yesterday, but they wanted to x-ray his foot and then the doctor went into surgery before he read the results.

My mom waited and called for 9 hours yesterday. Finally, they decided he should stay because when he would get up he was feeling very dizzy. Again, he was maybe going to come home today, but due to the dizziness they wanted to keep him again. Adding insult to injury, he got up and used a cane to go into the bathroom and fell down....yes, you heard me right...fell down. He hurt his back.

My mom, her cousin and my uncle went and visit him today. Like I have said previously, all he cares about is Aviana's condition. Hopefully, Gary will be able to make it home tomorrow, after all it is Father's Day and all : )


Her head is still swelling and she will not be coming out of the coma today. Sorry to be so short, I am having a VERY rough time right now!


Well I talked to UC Davis at 8am and they said they would be making their rounds in about an hour to an hour and a half and then would get back to me with how to proceed for today. I have yet to hear from them. She warned me on the phone to not worry if there call comes later rather than sooner. So....here I wait!

Where's the boss??

Aviana stays at my mom and Gary's house a couple days here and there while they are up in Lincoln. Kama is used to that.

This morning as I woke up, I caught Kama standing in front of Aviana's closed door. I think she has finally realized she is not just gone to my mom and Gary's. I think she is now wondering where she is. I think she is wondering why she is not hearing things like "Hi Kama, good moring." Why she is not receiving hugs and kisses from that little pint sized girl, why it is so quiet around this place.

She is above all not being bossed around all day long. Who knows she may be missing these words: No Kama, Mommy's shirt. No Kama, Avi's toy. No Kama, Daddy's shoes. No Kama, Avi's blanket. No Kama, Avi's clip. Kama, sit down. Kama, move please. Kama, go outside. Kama, eat food. We always said, can you imagine what she would be like with a sibling....oh my goodness!!

I sure am missing all the talking she does to Kama. I am missing hearing her say, "Mommy Kama/Zoe throw up" (with hand motion), I am missing her say, "bless you" when Kama, Zoe or I sneeze.

I can go on forever....

If this, then that

I don't, won't, and refuse to play that game. Uncharacteristic of me, I tend to think ~ if this, then that sometimes. How do you tell the people you love so much that it's not their fault? And most importantly, how do you make them believe it? I am struggling deeply with this right now.

My Mom and Gary are two of Aviana's favorite people in the entire world. I can't slice it any other way. When I say, "Aviana, would you rather stay with Mommy, or go with Nana and Papa?" She says, "Go, Nana and Papa." She then flies out the door. It's all "good times" with them. All three cherish, and enjoy every moment together.

My mom could not stop repeating could've, should've, would've the entire first day. She continuously would say she took our baby from us. In the last two days, she's absolutely distraught, but has stopped making those statements. Is it simply because I keep telling her it's not their fault, and that it could happen to anyone, or is it because she is suppressing those feelings and now not sharing them with me??

I can't say it any clearer, it's not their fault and it could happen to anyone! Many things happen, or could have happened in our lives that didn't, and for that we are lucky. We always remember those moments, but sometimes sweep them under the rug to ourselves, and people we know. Sometimes, we are not so lucky! For anyone out there who thinks it could never happen to them, I challenge you to think again. Accidents of all kind happen every minute of everyday, and hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20.

I love you Mom and Gary!

Words escape me

Sgt. Richard Merenda. Do any of you know this name? I sure don't, but what I do know is he is the man who gave Aviana her first chance on this long journey of recovery.

The road could have ended on that street, at that time, in that particular place. Richard Merenda jumped in and saved our little girl. I will never truly be able to express my, and my families, gratitude toward this heroic man.

When he arrived on the scene, Aviana had no pulse. He didn't hesitate. He sprang into action. He, and his friend (whom to my understanding helped Gary) selflessly aided two complete strangers. A testament to the power and generosity of everyday people.

At some point, we'll meet. As I hug them both, I already know I'll never want to let go. They waited for hours in the emergency room for any news. Richard Merenda came back later with a little stuffed horse for Aviana. I'll carry that horse with me every step of the way.

Awaiting any news, wondering, hoping, the horse is with me....they are with me! I don't know you yet, but what I do know is ~ I love you!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Called PICU

They said Aviana is doing well. The reason they took her into another surgery this morning was because her head pressure level was 25 and that's not good. Now her level is between 12 and 17....this is great news. They want to see her blood pressure in the 60's and she is in the high 50's, so almost.

So sorry!

I am so sorry to all who have been anxiously waiting for an update on her surgery. I feel truly bad and honestly thought we would sleep for maybe 30 minutes and then I would come out and update everyone.

What happened, it's dark outside!

Prior to visiting Aviana today, we stopped at Kaiser and I picked up some drugs to cope with this situation. We have been drugged (thanks to some pill popping passers in my family- you know who you are) for majority of the time thus far, but now we finally have our very own prescription.

We each took one tiny, little, blue pill prior to the doctor coming out with the news of round 3 of, "Why not take more of Aviana's skull" surgery. These pills were different in some way....very, very, different! To the tune of wobbly legs, frequent floating on air, fairly good mood considering, stupid grin on our faces at times.

One of my best friends greeted us at the door of the PICU when we got there and after I took that pill, she knew the moment it took affect. Thank goodness for such a wonderful little pill. This is the third (oh my gosh, third) surgery she needed to have, and survive. We were a ball of nerves until they came out. What am I saying, until they came out, before coming out, while walking out, while standing there, while speaking, while walking away, after they were gone and everything in between.

The doctor said she did well, they removed much more of her skull. We will be able to go upstairs and see her soon. He said her brain is now able to swell out, which in turn, will lower her brain pressure. All I could think was ~ my sweet little fighter.
 We waited, what seemed like forever, and then finally we were able to go in and see her. Her sweet little face was much more swollen. They had previously warned us of the swelling prior to seeing her. What they didn't know is our little one (as all of you know) has chipmunk cheeks. Every time we went in before, she barely looked swollen...today was different!!  We stayed with her for a little while and pretty much same as before....no stimulation - let her rest, as that is what's best for her.

We had stayed up until 5am this morning and then woke up at 8. I passed out on the way home from the hospital. We actually ate (huge advances for us) and we came home to take a catnap. All of a sudden Zoe woke me up with her crazy meowing.

I said, "What happened? It's dark outside." I looked at the clock...11pm...what happened? If you know me, you know I'm a light sleep and wake up many times throughout the night and for various reasons. As you can imagine, I was shocked to have slept through phones ringing off the hook, the doorbell, etc.

By the way, as it turns out...we found out that one of our tiny blue pills is equivalent to if we ate four of what our family was giving us. So, if my math skills are up to par, we were taking four times what we thought we were taking.

Well, that explains that!

Avi do it!

I have the best, most supportive, husband a girl could ever ask for. Because of him, I am fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home with Aviana since day one. Ever since she could put words together this is what I hear ALL DAY LONG... Avi do it.

Our entire day proceeds in this fashion. Avi does everything. Even before she could talk, every action was her saying, "Avi do it." She is the most fiercely independent little girl I have ever encountered. She has always wanted to learn, and try everything for herself! If we try to help her, she gets this look in her eye and we know we should back off if we know what's good for us.

She grabs whatever it is Dave or I may have and works it until it works for her. She will not let us do anything. She has the strongest will ever, and everyone who has ever come across her knows she is a fighter. She is rough and tumble and we are more than confidant if anyone can pull through, it will be her. She will go down fighting tooth and nail. She's scrappy I tell you!

We call her our little spitfire. After we say it, she yells "Spitfire!" At such a tender, young age she knows exactly who she is, and what she is capable of. We do find comfort in this fact, and all we can say is....Baby, bring it all out NOW! Now is the time....AVI DO IT!


For those of you who know me, know I'm kind of a neat freak. Everything has to be just so, frames and decorations in just the right spot. Things turned 43 degrees and facing perfectly out the window, etc. All items in my kitchen, and cabinets must be with labels facing forward (think Sleeping with the Enemy), all doors must be pushed completely open, etc. I say to hell with all that.  If any of you could see the condition of my house right now, you would be astonished. Stuff everywhere, and for the first time in my life I DON'T CARE!!!!!

All I want is my baby back, all I want is to hear her say "Hi Mommy, good mooring." All I want is to ask her what she wants for breakfast, and to see her little mind thinking and to heat her sweet voice say something like, "Yogurt peach, please." All I want is to hear her request her all time favorite, "Watch Mickey Mouse, please Mommy." All I want is to see her give Kama and Zoe good morning kisses. All I want is to hear her sweet little voice as she is looking out the window saying "Look Mommy, birdie flying in the sky." All I want is to hear her say, "Cover boobies Mommy," as I'm getting dressed. All I want is her to...can't anymore....tears covering keyboard!

Dazed & Confused

I feel slightly dazed & confused at all times lately. My mind is not my own, it feels as though it is being controlled by someone else. Actually, it is in many ways.

First, I just now realized that my blog is NOT backwards. How many of you realized that? Wouldn't you know I spent about 45 minutes searching through help menus, etc. Trying in vane to figure out how to reverese the order of the posts.

All I can say is....I am happy it happened. 45 beautiful minutes of my mind being more occupied by mindless stuff. Funny how your perception can change on a dime and these sorts of things, which used to be frustrating can be comforting.

Who would have thought!

I can hear you, but I just don't want to understand

This seems to be the theme of the entire last two days. U.C Davis just called and said her brain is continuing to swell. He said he needed my permission to remove, let's see - what did they say? Oh yes, more of her skull. My mind was a blur as he rattled on....he wanted to take where they already took, and then on top of that her lateral, bi-lateral, peripheral and frontal skull. They said she needs to go into surgery and will call me the moment she goes in.

Hmmmm....let me think, ok go. What am I supposed to say?

He listed the side effects and I will not even go through those with you. They were enough to make me want to slam my head on this keyboard. It was much like one of those annoying prescription commercials. You know the ones where they list the side effects at super high speeds, but these side effects were much more grim than the ones on TV.

Caution: new blogger!

My blog is backwards and I do not have the energy to fix it...sorry!

Please start at the last post.

Nana & Papa

My mom was beyond beside herself yesterday. She seems to be very positive and hopeful today. While I do not want her by herself, I understand that is her wish for now.

We went to visit Gary today and as broken and beaten up as he is....all he cares about is his little "chocolate eyes." They ran him through a series of tests and decided he shouldn't be discharged. He will be moved to Kaiser at 3:15 this afternoon. He will be at the Kaiser in Sacramento on Morse. They could not move him to Roseville as there is no neurology staff, or something of that nature. He is also understandibly beside himself.

My Mom and Gary are very strong and always come out on top...they will be OK.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where do we go from here....

It's a waiting game. That's what we do....we wait. We don't know what to do. We don't know what to say. We cry, we stop, we wonder, we love each other, we sit in silence, we want to talk to family and friends, we don't want to talk to family and friends, sometimes we want to laugh, sometimes we don't, we want normalcy, sometimes we don't want to see it, we feel guilt for not being by her side, often times we push it aside as we know what's best.

We are doing what feels right for each of us. Strange at it may sound, at this very moment we feel like laying hardwood floor. Something we started the night before the accident and decided was never going to get done in light of our current tragedy. Hardwood floor - never sounded so therapeutic before. We had no idea we could ever find comfort in doing such a thing.

Dave came in as I was typing and said, "Honey, the neighbors all know about Aviana, they are going to think we're crazy." I said, "It's ok, they probably realize there's no right or wrong way to handle such an thing." By the way, our neighbors would never think anything, they are all some of the best people you'll ever meet in your entire lives. We are fortunate to live amongst them.

So....if it's ok, we will continue to keep you in the loop with this blog to the best of our ability!


I have never felt compelled to start a blog, but now I do more than ever. There are many reasons for this feeling: to occupy my mind, to get these horrific feelings out and above all, to let all of our wonderful family and friends know what is going on.  I'm sorry there has been so much confusion today as to where we are and what is going on with Aviana. I decided I need to create this to get everyone on the same page : )

We went to visit Aviana this morning and the head doctor explained a few things to us. He said Aviana's vitals are right where they want them to be, but she is HEAVILY sedated. He said they want to keep just about ALL stimulation out of her room. We were standing there with a duffel bag full of all of her favorite books, her cozy blankets and her treasured lamby. He said that what is BEST for her now is that we go eat, rest and take care of each other because when they start to take her out of the coma he is going to need us on our A game!! He said let them do what they need to do now and then asked us to come back when they need us and do what we have to do. He then said we are welcome to stay by her, but to limit our talking to a whisper. He said we could touch her lightly, but nothing more. It was obvious (in a nice way) it was best we go.

I want her to have every chance in the world, so if we have to refrain from soothing ourselves....so be it! Last night they asked if we could bring some pictures of Aviana to display above her bed. I am having the hardest time looking at any pictures of her beautiful little face. I brought them in the bag, but had decided I could not look at them up in her room. At the last minute I realized, my eyes don't have to go in direction of the pictures, but I sure want them to see what they are working so hard for.

People always wonder what they would take from a burning home. I know exactly what Aviana would take first and foremost.....her beloved lamby! I tucked her little lamb under her arm, and just how she sleeps much of the time, kissed her, whispered I love you and walked away from my baby girl.

Thank you!

We have always felt so blessed to have the most wonderful family and friends in our lives. To all of you who have come from near and far, we are thankful.

We appreciate the visits, comforting words, food, changes of clothes, cards and every sort of kind gesture we have received. Most of all, we thank you for keeping our dear little girl in your thoughts and prayers. We love all of you very much and want each and everyone of you to know it!


Over the years I have witnessed others experience the worst day of their lives. I always wondered how that would feel, now I know. This is something I wish to have never known. June 17, 2009 - the most heart wrenching, excruciating, experience for our family to date.

For all who are not sure what happened, or are getting little bits and pieces of this terrible story.... let me try and tell you what I know. My mom was aching to see Aviana for the day. She called early to ask if she could come pick her up. Shortly after, Aviana was bouncing out the front door all the while looking back saying "I love you Mommy."

One of Aviana's favorite places to be in the world is with her Nana and Papa, they are truly three peas in a pod. They were out shopping for the day, which was one of their favorite things to do. They loved to show her off to anyone, and everyone who looked her way.

Our beautiful Aviana and her Nana and Papa were crossing the street in Roseville, Gary was holding her as he so often loved to do. Gary and Aviana were struck by an oncoming car. Gary rolled onto the hood of the car and broke the windshield. Aviana was thrown out of his arms and landed on her head. Unfortunately, my mom was just a few steps behind and witnessed the entire horrific incident :(

Aviana was not stable enough to be airlifted, and for that reason they were sent by ambulance to the closest hospital, Sutter Roseville. Gary sustained a black eye, 4 broken ribs, a huge gash on the back of his head, a fractured pelvis and many other cuts and scrapes.

The doctor came and let us know that Aviana was not expected to make it, she had severe head trauma. Everything was in slow motion. I could hear the words, but could not make any sort of sense of them.

They finally offered an option of a last ditch effort, which they said was a LONG shot, and we took it. Keep in mind, Dave was working in Truckee that day and trying to get back. He was forced to make these life or death decisions by phone while on his way. The doctor said they do not deal with children at this particular hospital, but have no choice. They said they needed an answer immediately as they have to work fast! The doctor also said she needed to be airlifted to UC Davis, but could not because she wasn't stable enough. We gave them the go ahead and they were gone.

I was terrified to see her. If she didn't make it, I honestly was torn with my last memory being of her just a few hours prior. Her smiling face, her waving to me, telling me she loved me. My mom urged me to. She needed me. My mom was right. Moms always are. Seeing her in those moments before they wheeled her back were some of the worst times for us. Her tiny, little larger than life body, lifeless. It was something so awful. Words can't accurately describe that feeling.

They took her into an emergency surgery and removed part of her skull to let her brain expand. Once that surgery was over, her pupil responded the way they were hoping for. Shortly after the initial surgery they discovered the other side of her head needed the same, and she was again rushed back in. They did the exact same procedure on the other side. They had the same good result from her pupil. Apparently, when she arrived both of her beautiful pupils were what they called "blown out."

We then had to wait until she was stable. At that time, she was air lifted to UC Davis Medical Center. She has been in an induced coma since the accident.  Their plan is to hopefully let her come out on Saturday.

At this point, we have no idea what the extent of brain damage is. They said they have seen kids get up and walk out, and they have seen kids that cannot eat or breath. We have no idea where she will fall on the spectrum.

Please pray for our little angel and keep us in your thoughts : )

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Long and Winding Road Code

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


My husband and I met at Chico State in 1997. We were married in beautiful Lake Tahoe on June 30, 2001!

After struggling through many years of infertility, we decided to adopt a little girl from Guatemala. We brought Aviana home in July of 2007.

On June 17, 2009, our lives were forever changed. My stepfather was carrying Aviana across the street, as my Mom followed a few steps back. A car struck both Gary and Aviana. Although battered and bruised from head to toe, Gary is thankfully now okay physically. Aviana wasn't so fortunate. She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.

After close to three long months in the hospital, she was able to come home. Sadly, her injury left her unable to walk, talk, or eat by mouth.

We're working to pick up the pieces of our broken family. This blog chronicles our journey in trying fit those pieces back together.


Monday, June 15, 2009

My Aunt Paula

~ My eulogy from my aunt's service  ~

When I stop and think, I wonder if at our best, we are a conglomeration of those we admire most. If that’s the case, at mine, many of my aunt’s qualities come forward. 

As a child, I lived with my mom and would visit my dad during every break throughout the year. My aunt, uncle and cousins lived a few sticks and a pile of rocks away. And when that truck door swung open, you better believe that’s where I was headed. 

Looking back, I realize, my aunt and uncle were gracious enough to not only have three kids of their own, but an additional many in my brothers and me too. Their house was the hub, the grand central station of Tahoe - through rain, shine, sleet, and shouting - we were little, loud, and in charge. And they… the providers of the best childhood a girl could ask for.

From a young age, and I believe without knowing, my aunt Paula was already showing me what it was to be an aunt. She was working her magic, sprinkling a little here, and some there. In my own life, I sometimes rise greatly, but often times… can’t compare. Always though, I use her as my measure. 

As I’ve grown, there are pieces of my heart which I think, hmmm, this must be Paula. I share a great love of animals with my aunt and uncle.

This past year, there’s nothing I loved more than seeing my aunt on her property. As she dart from one recently completed project to the next projected, she radiate from the inside out. With a smile on her face, hands in the air, and five beautiful dogs in tow, she had a way of bringing me into her vision.

Once in the house, their two cats would join us, and in an animal kingdom like fashion, all seven sweeties would share in her space. And to my aunt - there’s no place she would rather be. 

Paula’s love of animals was far from typical and extended beyond into a deep, uneasy, and sometimes pain induced love. She used her thoughts of animal suffering as a guide for her eating habits. I trace my own internal struggles and wonder if she too influenced them; most likely.

My aunt, the giver of all she’s got. From when I was little, she’s treated me like her own. If we were out shopping, she was sure to send me back to Tahoe with clothes of my own. When it came to the purchase of homes, she refused her commissions. When I protested, she looked me straight in the face and said, “Well then you better find a new realtor.” 

These are the very things I will remember most - being seen…thought of… loved… and included. This was a gift my aunt gave to those around, whether they were with her for a minute, or a lifetime.

Paula was always one phone call, or lunch date away. But the true gift was in how she listened to my words and empathized without trying to fix the unfixable. Something I to this day am working on.

We recently decided to move to Lake Tahoe. She was out of her skin excited for us. She knew that’s the very place I left my heart and moving back was all I ever wanted. 

Paula and I were in awe over how everything fell perfectly together in tying up the old and bringing us into the new. Little did I know a hidden track was playing in the background? We will forever be grateful for all the extra time we spent with her this year.

We were lucky enough to have Bob and Paula stay the night with us in October. During their visit we went on a long walk through the forest. She and I talked about life, death, and the visions and dreams she’s had about our daughter who passed away this last year. We talked about what we thought may happen after we die and about how grateful we are for every moment of every day. We laughed, and of course cried too. As we continued on our path, I thanked her for both shaping my childhood, and helping to contribute to my love of Tahoe. This is one of the main conversations we had, which now brings a sense of peace. For that I am grateful.

When my husband Dave and I look around our house and the surrounding area, everything holds new and different meaning. It’s stronger… and more important. Everywhere I look, I feel my aunt’s presence; I can feel her love. I’m surrounded in it. I’m thankful to have known someone as kind and beautiful as her. And…Im grateful to her for bringing me home… before she was brought home herself.