Ugh it has been a difficult few.. time periods. I don’t even know when it started to get so rough, but it feels like we’re sliding downhill over broken concrete on roller blades without safety gear on, hitting every shattered piece on the way down, all the while picking up speed, with no bottom in sight. Not that I would know what falling on concrete with roller blades and no gear, behind a car, would feel like…

I love my Avery so so much. But she does require a whole lot of emotional response. She brings me joy and breaks my heart all in the same day. Her enormous adorable smiles melt my heart and her little helmet makes it bleed.

God has a plan. I know it, He knows it, Avery seems to know it too. She started off so tiny and frail, with calcification in her brain, a body with so many complications, and a bleak future. And now at six months her feet look normal, her head is rounding out, her tethered cord surgery is right around the corner with a promising future after recovery, her cleft palate surgery is also scheduled and she’s eating baby food, interacting with her family and showing personality, grasping and cooing and playing, and even able to sit unsupported for a good long while. All things that I wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to do, or at least not within normal milestone timelines. I look at her and I apologize to God that I ever had any doubts. He placed a lullaby in my head when we struggled through those first few days, that “you will overcome, all that was undone, and may the Lord be true and bring new faith through you.” He may not have knit her together completely in her mother’s womb, but he hasn’t put down his knitting needles yet. He’s letting me watch and help work through some of the tangles. She has changed me so much in her short little life so far, and I need to just continue to trust that everything I still worry about isn’t worth worrying about, because she’s a beautiful perfect little angel puff just the way she is and however she turns out.

I did just stop this morning to buy the pre-op soap that I’m supposed to wash her with every night this week in preparation for her back surgery on Friday. I’m getting squeamish and nervous.. but it will be ok and will all be a memory soon.

And then there’s Eric’s family. Our nephew Mark ran away last weekend. He’s home now, but there is so much brokenness in that poor family, with him having been taken from home as a child, enduring the foster care system for years before being adopted by Eric’s brother and sister-in-law. He is so sweet with all of the little kids, his cousins, and even with us, his aunts and uncles. But he has so much grief that he’s buried and can’t escape. He watched his father die from an overdose of drugs at seven years old, and his mother chose drugs, alcohol and men over him, and yet he’s drawn back to her because it’s his mother. Despite all that Jason and Crystal do for him, try to teach him, and the future he’s guaranteed just by being part of a middle class family, he can’t see it through his teenage hormonal blindness and childhood trauma. They can’t seem to connect to him, and he keeps getting in trouble. Once he was found they did have a small breakthrough, but it’s such a long road ahead and the poor kid probably feels so alone. He can’t possibly understand why they would care for him and he’s surrounded by so many bad influences that tell him to take care of himself first and steal, cheat and lie to do so.

And then this weekend we learned more news. Eric’s childhood friend, who would come to game night every week, who watched Aria grow up for the last two and a half years and who I called Uncle Joel because of that, who helped me plan Eric’s surprise game party birthdays multiple years in a row (although it was only a real surprise the first time), who has a fiance who built her entire future on him.. is in the hospital dying. He had gone to the doctor with a cold, then later with the flu, then finally admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and ended up with fluid in his lungs, kidneys that started to shut down, and sedated on a ventilator and life-flighted from one hospital to another as he continued to get progressively worse over the course of a month. On Friday it looked promising, that the dialysis was working and his oxygen was improving and it looked like it would be a long road to recovery, but recover he would. And then he had a brain aneurysm. Eric went up yesterday and was told to say his goodbyes, along with all of the other friends and family that had come to give their farewells. Joel’s brother was flying in and then they would pull the plug.

It’s just so heartbreaking because he was a such a great person and friend, and my heart just breaks repeatedly as I think about his fiance. I saw her on Wednesday when I went to visit Joel and she said, “I’m not worried about them calling to say he’s dead, I just can’t figure out how to manage without him every day though.” And then this.

I know I lay awake a great deal last night praying for her. They wanted to get married. They did not want to have kids because they didn’t want to bring children into the world with their health problems, but oh they loved their nieces and nephews and their friends’ kids dearly. Joel was always so very sweet with Aria. In fact, when I would tell her it was time to go to bed, while the guys were having game night, I would say, “let’s tell daddy night night” and she would climb in his lap to give him a hug and kiss, then she would go over to Joel for one as well. She ignored the other guys.. or would give them weird looks. But Joel was her favorite. Now she won’t even remember him. They hadn’t had game night since Avery was born because of all that is going on with life since her. But Eric was actually thinking about starting it up again. We had just had a talk a few weeks ago about him doing game night and me going to Bible study with Crystal. Now who knows if or when that will ever happen, with all that is going on with our families and our friends…

It’s just been a little bumpy over here, but we’ll get through it. I keep telling myself that God is on the move.