One year ago today I was probably putting sweet Tatum to sleep about this time of night. No idea that it would be her last day "healthy". No idea that our lives were going to change the very next morning. No idea that her time with us was about to start ticking away. No idea that she would never be able to lift her head or move her arms or legs again. No idea that every prayer that I had been praying for the past three weeks were about to be answered. No idea that I was about to be encircled by love that only Heavenly Parents could provide, through the most difficult year of my life. No idea of the miracles that we were all about to witness. No idea how close our guardian angels really are.
Last year this day was a Monday. Tatum had been throwing up the Friday before and ended up staying in the hospital Friday, Saturday and came home on Sunday. On Monday we went up to Primary Children's hospital for an appointment with a GI doctor. When we made the appointment, a few months before, we were still investigating her inability to gain weight. By this time, I knew in my heart of hearts that we were trying to get a jump on the onset of her Alpers syndrome. We still had no medical confirmation that Tates had Alper's, so Lance was still being very positive and a little naive. I was pretending to be positive, as I was secretly praying to try and orchestrate the onset of her disease. Our appointment with the doctor was pretty uneventful. When we told him, sort of in passing as we were getting ready to leave, that Tatum had been admitted to the hospital for vomiting he casually said "Lots of kids with mitochondrial disease have vomiting episodes". Lance and I looked at each other, and my heart sank. We quickly went through the motions of getting checked out and left the hospital. As we left, Lance made said that he was glad that our baby didn't look sick like the big picture of the baby that is on the front of the hospital building. The next time we entered the hospital, several weeks later he made the comment that he wished that our baby looked that healthy. Perspective.
After leaving the hospital we decided to stop at our favorite (maybe my favorite) Chinese food restaurant since we were in the area and we probably wouldn't make it out for Valentines day. The man who seats you always recognizes me and he was very sweet and took a close look at Tatum. The food was fantastic. Lance's fortune read: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I didn't think much about it, but it seemed ominous. Lance put it in his pocket and kept it.
I can't remember what I was exactly thinking this day in February. I know that my emotions must have been heightened because of what the GI doctor had said about the vomiting episodes. I am sure that I did not sleep well, I rarely did. By this time I had already been praying fervently that her seizure not come in the night while I was sleeping. I wanted to be awake and able to help Tatum immediately. Trevins seizure had come at 3:00 in the morning. I sat up straight in the middle of the night, like something had woke me up. I went to check on him. He was in the room down the hall from us, and we lived in a very old house that had those very thick walls. When I got to his room I saw that his eyes were open and he was convulsing, but he could not make any noise. I know that angels woke me up. There is no other explanation. It has always made me feel horrible to think about how long he was seizing before I was able to get to him. He must have been scared and wanting one of us to come. This has always haunted me.
I have been apprehensive about reliving these last months with Tates. I wasn't sure how to spend these hard anniversary days. We still have things that we have to do, unfortunately we can't stop life. Halea had her Sterling Scholar interview this afternoon, so I was trying to be emotionally available for her because she was very nervous. She came home and got ready around 12:00. As I was walking out of my bathroom I hugged her and wished her good luck, I told her to be herself, and then I told her that she had two very aware guardian angels. Hilary said "two angels?" I said "Yes Tatum and Trevin". She looked very frustrated and said, "Tatum and Trevin are my angels." I smiled and said I know, but they are Halea's too cause we share." She seemed satisfied with that.
A few of my friends and I decided to go back to our favorite Chinese restaurant in celebration of Tatum and her life, her example, the gift she was to all who knew her. To reenact that last day with her healthy. My fortune today: "Stop searching. Happiness is just next to you." I am sure that she would not want me to be looking back on the happiness that I "had", but to look forward to the happiness that is all around me and up ahead. I have to choose to be happy. Tatum fought and worked for every breath those last three and a half months that she lived. She would want us to all live with that same fervor. And so I will.