It has been one year since the date of that horrible accident that has changed our lives forever! When you think of one year it doesn't seem that long but yet it seems like this is all we know anymore. When we think of our memories of Dakota before the accident, both Zach and I feel like it wasn't real. We can hardly believe that he used to say all the things he did or do all that he used to do. When we see kids his age doing things that a normal three year old does we really feel like they are super human or something. Although we remember SO much of what he used to be like it is hard to believe that this little boy we hold in our arms every day is that same boy. This year has been an emotional, spiritual, and physical roller coaster for our family that has changed us in so many ways.
About six months ago I dreaded this year mark and I hated every day that brought us closer to it. Mostly because of what the doctors said. They made it seem like the year point is where most of the progression we would see in Dakota would stop. After talking to the people at NACD I no longer fear that the year is the end. I know it is possible for him to keep progressing and I won't give up my hope and faith just because it has been a year. So as this year mark rolled around Zach and I were both doing pretty good. It really was like just any other day, mostly because every day is hard. Almost every day we are still reminded of how much we miss that little boy running and playing and it doesn't matter what day it happened because every day without him is as painful as the next. Although on the outside I didn't feel much different I can tell I have been a little on edge emotionally lately and Zach and I have had our little tiffs more often lately. I think deep down there is some pain of knowing that it has been a whole year since we have heard the voice of our most precious gift and how desperately we miss it.
A lot has changed over this year. We have come a long way with Dakota and with ourselves. There were points where we didn't think we could face another day but we have made it for 365 days (actually 366 today) and we are still going strong. We keep putting one foot in front of the other and it does seem to get a little easier as time goes on. The best way to describe our life at this year point is manageable. We feel somewhat in control of our lives again and as Dakota has continued to heal and progress we are able to do a lot more things that at one point seemed impossible. Although Dakota still has a LONG way to go, if we think back to where he was at a year ago, it is quite amazing and miraculous to see how far he HAS come. He went from not even being able to look at you or move his eyes, not being able to move his body at all, no expression, no sounds, on a ventilator to breathe for him... to a little boy with so much light in his eyes that not only can look at you but observe things around him, moving his limbs and body all over the place (still working on control and coordination), sometimes even rolling, lots of expression and understanding, babbling, and being capped with his trach (breathing completely on his own). So although it's hard sometimes to see how far we have come because I am always so focused on how far we have to go, I have to admit...this kid is giving it his best shot and I am so proud of him!
Several days after the accident. Started to open his eyes briefly but no reaction behind them.
2 weeks. Got tubes out of mouth. Trach and g-tube surgeries done.
About a month after. Head was constantly turned to the left, tounge was out a lot. Sleeping and wake cycles completely off. Lots of spasticity (legs straight out and arms bent up)
Almost a couple months out started to look and track Buzz with lights for few seconds.
Few months out. Home. Zach made this contraption to put his head in to force him to stay in the middle instead of to the left. He chunked up quite a bit from the formula. He was always hot and sweaty because he wasn't regulating his body temp right.
3-4 months out showed signs of first smile!
5-6 months out looking more like himself. Wearing the speaking valve all the time. Smile is getting bigger!
Now...looking like his handsome self and capped all day long. Getting stronger all the time!
Emotionally, time over this year and through the help of a loving Saviour, both Zach and I have healed SOME of the pain in our hearts. When that tragic day happened and I almost lost Dakota I have to admit all the life and light inside of me was gone. I was in a very dark hole that I didn't think I would ever be able to climb out of. I even thought to my self several times...I am going to need some serious help and counseling. For the first several months that day haunted my mind and the image of finding Dakota's little body laying there with no life, limp in my arms, watching them perform CPR on him killed me. It would creep into my mind out of nowhere and bring me to tears. I didn't know if it would ever go away. But I truly believe my Saviour Jesus Christ has been there for me in these darkest hours and has helped to carry this heavy load that has been weighing me down. I am okay to talk about that day and even to think about it now. It doesn't haunt me anymore although I wish with all my heart I could go back in time and change the outcome.
We spent the one year anniversary at a funeral for an amazing 30 year old husband, father of 3, son, brother, and friend who died from complications of a car accident with his wife and dad two weeks prior. My heart was broken for this family and it made me realize how much we just never know what will happen tomorrow so I can't waste today worrying about tomorrow. I want to soak up every minute of this life and recognize every blessing that I do have. As hard as it was to go through all of this with Dakota, I couldn't imagine losing Zach. So in memory of Dakota's year mark and Thanksgiving since they are so tied together, it is my hope and prayer that we will all count our blessings, forget the stupid little things that don't matter in the long run that we spend so much time worrying over, and enjoy every minute of every day...because we don't know what God's plan is for us and how much time we have....although we like to think we do...we don't. Spend time with those you love and cherish the little moments. I know for me, if I just would have know that last Thanksgiving day that this was my last day and moment to spend with my little healthy Dakota I would have done things a little different. I would have held him a little more, played with him more, got more kisses from him, raced with him, laughed with him, let him snuggle in our bed longer or all night. I am thankful that I still have him though. I do miss a lot of things but I am blessed to still be able to hold him, to look at his gorgeous face, to see his most handsome smile, to kiss that soft face, hold his tiny hands, hear his sounds and little laugh, talk to him, and just be his mom.
Last Thanksgiving...one day before the accident.
Getting ready to go on a wagon ride with his cousins
Uncle Riley giving us a ride
I LOVE YOU DAKOTA...AND AM SO GLAD THAT YOU ARE MINE!!!
P.S. Thank you to all of you who sent texts and messages our way during this time. We appreciate so much you thinking of us and Dakota!! I know I say this a lot but we REALLY couldn't do it without the love and support of so many wonderful people! Thank you!
P.S.S. This family who lost their dad, husband, and son (His name was D.J. Rogers) could really use some financial help from anyone who can help out. He was self-employed (we know how hard that is insurance wise) working 3 different types of jobs. His wife and dad are still both recovering physically from their injuries and now she is left with all the medical bills plus providing for 3 children. If anyone has any great ideas for fundraisors or anything please let me know. I am a horrible planner but a great worker! Or if you would just like to donate I will post more info on an account or something set up for them. I know it is Christmas time and money is tight but if everyone who even reads this can give a little we can make a big difference for a family who really needs it! Like Zach said..."If I died I would hope people would take care of you and Dakota. I don't want D.J. to have to worry about his wife and kids."