We miss you Birdy

Ava Samantha Grace Colley

December 4, 2012 – August 15, 2013

IMG_0445

We love you so much our sweet little Birdy, and can’t wait to see you again in heaven some day.

Love mom & dad, Erik, William, Sarah & Sophia

Psalm 73:26     My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

_________________________

Ava’s Life Slideshow (change the quality for better pictures)

To Honour our Nurses….

These past couple of days I just keeping thinking about all of the nurses and staff at SickKids – and the ones we met a few times at Children’s Hospital in London too.   We are eternally grateful for the care they showed Ava and our family and for the compassionate and brave way they supported our family through her death.

I was trying to find the words to acknowledge all the things their job involves when I stumbled upon this… an article written by a SickKids nurse that was published in the Star.    She was very kind and gave me her permission to reprint it here.

________________________________________________________________________________

By Jacqueline Hanley

I’ve had a few moments at work, recently, that really made me think about what it means to be a paediatric nurse. I was reflecting on a particular patient and I wondered, when I got home and my husband asked me, “How was your day?”, how could I possibly ever share with him what it was really like? How could I share the conversation I had that day with a six-year-old, mature beyond her years? Or the feeling I had when she told me she hates her scars? Or how weary I felt at the end of the day, a day that wasn’t even particularly busy?

I wish that when asked how my day was, I knew how to give a truthful answer.

I wish I could really express what a shift is like, and know I would be understood.

If I really answered truthfully, I might start off with how many times I saw a child smile. I might tell you about the tears I wiped. I could tell stories about the kids I made laugh. I could tell you about the kids I made cry.

I might tell you about the parents I consoled, reassured, encouraged.

I might tell you about the family that thanked me, and the family that pushed me away.

I might tell you how many times I grew frustrated. Or how many times I felt annoyed. I might tell you about how many times I thought my headache couldn’t get any worse.

I might tell you how I taught a new nurse and how I learned from an old colleague.

I might tell you about the stickers I stuck, the pages I coloured and the teddy bears I tucked into bed.

I could tell you about the call bells that rang, the IV pumps that beeped, the monitors that alarmed.

I could tell you all about the blood product reactions, the worrisome fluid balances, or the child who was fine and, then, suddenly, wasn’t.

I could tell you how many gloves I put on, basins I emptied and faces I wiped.

I could tell you about the tricks I use to sneak in an assessment on a three-year-old; the games we play so they will take their meds, and how, in order to auscultate a five-year-old’s chest, I have to pretend I’m listening for monsters.

If I were to tell you what my day was like, I might tell you that my hands will always feel sticky from hand sanitizer, and no matter how much I wash, “that smell” won’t seem to go away.

I could tell you how funny it is to hear a two-year-old say “stethoscope,” and how heart-breaking it is to hear a child whisper, “I just want to go home.”

I might tell you that today I heard a child’s first word. Or saw his first steps. Or watched a preemie finish her first whole bottle. I might tell you about the father who fed her, who took this small victory as a sign of hope.

I might tell you how the bravest person I know is an eight-year-old. Or the happiest person I know is a two-year-old with a medical history as old as she is.

I might tell you about a moment of joy, shared with a family, a patient, a colleague.

I might tell you how many times I felt my heart break.

I can tell you about the steps I walked, the hands I held, the songs I sang to put them to sleep.

If I could really talk about how my day was, I might tell you about the decisions I made, the priorities I set. Or about my “nurse’s intuition” that told me when I should start being concerned.

I could tell you about the orders I questioned. The orders I should have questioned. The split-second decision I made. The carefully calculated words I chose.

I could tell you how I fought for my patient. I could tell you how my patient fought me.

I could talk about how I taught a parent to be the nurse to their child that they never wanted to have to be.

I could tell you how that parent taught me about hope.

I could tell you about the moments of panic. The moments of empowered confidence. How smoothly our team functioned. How resourceful we can be.

I’d want to tell you about the breaths we gave, the lives we saved, the lives we couldn’t save.

I might share with you those moments when I just didn’t know what to say. Or the times I realized there was nothing I could say.

I could tell you how often we see a child and family suffering and think that maybe enough is enough. I could tell you about all the times we think that everything will never be enough. I would struggle to tell you how hard it is to say goodbye; I’d have a harder time telling you how sometimes saying goodbye can be a relief.

I might tell you how many times I thought, “This isn’t easy.”

I could tell you about the times I feared that when I decide to have children, that they might not be healthy. I could tell you about how every time I have that thought, I wonder how my husband and I would cope; would we be like the families I meet here every day? How would we make it through?

I could tell you how hard it is to be a paediatric nurse. I could tell you how rewarding it is. I could tell you how I know I probably won’t spend my career at the bedside, but how much I know I’ll miss the bedside when I finally walk away.

I could talk about these things, if I thought I might be understood.

Instead, I’ll say, “It was good,” with a smile; “I’m tired,” with a yawn.

At the end of the day, being a nurse is one of the hardest things I’ve ever chosen to do. It challenges me. It inspires me. It exhausts me. It empowers me. I love it.

It may sound clichéd, but when I’m tired and worn, I try to remember these things. And I try to gather the strength and bravery of that eight-year-old, and the happiness of that two-year-old.

And maybe next time, when someone asks, “How was your day?”, I’ll smile, and yawn, and say, “It was . . . indescribable.”

_____________________________________________________________________

It makes me cry every time I read it…. partly because I know that even though it’s not easy caring for children and their families, our nurses did their jobs so well.  No nurse on 4D was ever unkind to us and when I wasn’t able to be with Ava, they were there for her and filled in those gaps.

But it also makes me cry, because they knew and understood that last year at this time enough was really enough.   And because they knew all that Ava had endured, they could truly understand the relief there was at finally being able to let Ava go so that she wouldn’t suffer anymore.

So for everything they did for Ava and our family they will forever be in our hearts and I’ll always have hugs for them whenever I see them.

God bless you our nurses!

 

Homesick

Wow, it’s me… I’m back.   It’s been a long while,  almost two months, but I think I”m ready to start again.    I do want to thank everyone who sent me a kind word about continuing to blog back in the spring.   Back when I wasn’t sure I was going to continue, it was encouraging to know that there were those of you who still enjoyed reading what I had to say, even when I felt that nothing in our lives seemed worthy of blogging about.

Lately I’ve been composing blog posts in my head so I knew that it was time to start writing again, for better or for worse. 🙂

Here’s a quick catch-up on what we’ve been up to… let’s see,

End of June and the last day of school.   I love this pic… Sophia is crying because she was going to miss her teachers and Will is just happy…

DSC_0350

 

June 28 Erik had a birthday and turned 11 on us.  Here he is all excited about power packs that he received that he wanted to use to power his…

DSC_0359

 

Raspberry Pi.  It’s Erik’s computer that occupies him for hours and hours.  He ordered more parts for it with his birthday money and was thrilled, as we all were of course. 🙂

DSC_0378

 

DSC_0377

He’s such a neat kid even if he is a computer nerd.  I’m now come to grips with the fact my eleven year old son is smarter that me.  But it’s actually turning out to be quite handy, so I don’t mind.

OK – so moving on.  Summer vacation… we’ve spent lots of lazy mornings at the cottage…

DSC_0357

See how Sophia smiled so sweetly for me and Sarah’s like “Whatever mom”?

And the boys spent lots of nights fishing with Jay &  grandpa at the cottage – and actually catching fish this year… woohoo!!!

DSC_0343

 

I’ve kept the kids busy this summer working as my ‘minions’… here they are painting a new desk for Erik’s room…

DSC_0370

They did a pretty good job actually.  And we’re even raising a few monarchs again this year, courtesy of our butterfly garden we planted years ago.

This beauty emerged just yesterday…

DSC_0403

 

This in on top of swimming, riding bikes and playing with friends.  There is never a dull moment.

And then last week we celebrated my birthday.  Sophia asked me if I was turning 24 or 93… I only wish and hahahahaha.   But it was strange, for most of the day I just felt homesick…- homesick for Toronto – where we were living last year.

I spent the day missing the nurses & other friends at Sick Kids that made me smile and laugh as well as listened to me when I needed to talk.   I missed the time I had just to sit and pray and drink coffee.  I missed the Ronald MacDonald House and walking through the hot concrete jungle that is Toronto in the summer.  And I missed my precious baby Ava… and I wished I knew then that I only had a few more weeks here with her on this earth.  And the strange thing about my homesickness is that things weren’t all rosy last year at this time.  Ava was definitely struggling and the chickenpox scandal had gripped the Ronald MacDonald House (someone’s child broke out in chicken pox and they locked down the house for weeks and weeks, so no programs for the kids or dinners) so Jason and the kids were spending a lot of  time away from Toronto and I was alone with our sick baby.    And  it was all very tough.  But like I said, this week I missed it all.. the good and the bad because it meant Ava.  We all miss her so very much.

But Jason and I also still know that it’s still all good and Ava is exactly where she should be.  We are honored that we had the privilege of being her parents for as long we did and in two weeks when we mark the day that she died – August 15th – we know it will be tough, very tough.   But once again we can just marvel at God’s amazing grace and how He was so faithful and brought us through our Ava journey with our hearts broken, but in other ways, still fully intact, resting in His peace and love.

As I was writing this I was thinking about how life really is so fleeting… and this verse came to mind….

Psalm 103: 15 – 18

As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.

Ava was our sweet little Birdy, who came and flew away so quickly – but I am so grateful to God for the gift that she was for as long as we had her.

Thank you Lord, and give her a kiss from me.

Amen.

photo  0014