MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

A moment of silence

Posted by mbamommy on October 7, 2009

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now and have been procrastinating writing it for a couple reasons.  First, it’s not about MBA, MRS, MOM or ME.  Second, it’s a delicate story and not really mine to tell so I want to make sure I do it right.

A couple years ago, at my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, I met one of her best friends, Penny.  She’s the wife of an Air Force pilot (Blade) who was in Korea with my brother-in-law.  Penny is an amazing, beautiful, smart, witty, fun woman.  She’s tough…in a very classy way and definitely a woman I’d be friends with outside of a wedding party.  She was several months pregnant with their first child and she impressed the hell out of me when it came time to go dancing and she danced me under the table.  In a similar situation, (I was 7 mos preggo with Run ZMC and threw a bachelorette party for my best friend) I bowed out and went home early.  I just didn’t have it in me.

My sis-in-law’s wedding came around and I got a chance to spend time with Penny and Blade again.  He’s also amazing and someone I’d want to be friends with outside of a wedding party.  You’d think an F-16 pilot would be all “Top Gun”-esque (yes, I know they actually flew F-14’s; cut me some slack) but Blade was about the nicest, most laid back guy you’ve ever seen.  The only person you’d be more surprised about being a rock star fighter pilot is my brother-in-law, who’s as modest and low key as they come.  Maybe you have to be that way to fly faster than the speed of sound…..dunno.

A few months after the wedding, Penny & Blade’s daughter, Peyton was born.  I don’t know the exact details but I know it was a challenging delivery and Peyton had to be flown to a hospital with a NICU soon after she was born.  Oh yeah, did I mention they’re stationed in Alaska?  In friggin’ North Pole, AK.  Yes, there is such a place.  No, I don’t know if Santa was their neighbor. 

But, I digress. 

Peyton was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.

Needless to say, this came as a huge blow to the new parents.  When your child’s life expectancy is less than a year….as a parent….what in the world do you do?  Do you yell and scream and tear your hair out?  Do you curse the world?  Do you lose your faith in God?  Do you lose hope? 

Not these two.  The challenges they faced only strengthened their love, hope and faith.  Penny & Blade decided to make the most of Peyton’s life and live each day to the fullest.  They celebrated her birthday every day until the days became months and the months became the actual year anniversary of her birth.  They soon welcomed a second daughter, Quinn, into their family and continued to love and cherish both girls. 

On September 18, 2009, while in her parent’s arms, Peyton passed away.  Her poor little body just couldn’t fight it anymore.  She was 1 and 1/2 years old.

So…..if I’ve only met these people twice, why in the world am I writing about their tragic story?  Well, I wanted to offer some sort of tribute to Penny and Blade because I’m absolutely blown away with how they handled the circumstances thrown at them.  They believed that everyone’s thoughts and prayers were what kept Peyton strong and fighting for so long.  Now, I’m not a religious person, but to outlive your life expectancy by 1/2 your actual lifespan?  There’s something to that. 

They continued to live their lives: they traveled, they had another baby, they loved, they celebrated.  They talked about the day Peyton would “get her wings”.  With a pilot Daddy, it’s fitting.  And, as my sister-in-law pointed out, Peyton got her wings the same week the Air Force celebrated its anniversary of getting its wings.  Also fitting.

But, imagine the day to day reality of the situation.  You’re new parents in North Pole, AK, where is pitch black half the year and light the other half.  No family around, it costs an arm and a leg to fly….and it’s a REALLY long trip.  Your child needs to eat every 3 hours and it’s a constant battle to feed her.  Every 3 hours….for 18 months.  You see her smile, cut teeth, react to people….and yet, she can’t hold her head up.  And then, you bring another newborn into the picture who also has to eat every 3 hours…and can’t hold her head up.  And you see baby #2 grow and develop normally….soon outweighing and outdeveloping your first.  I cannot imagine how bittersweet it was for them.

The constant effort, strength, tenacity, hope, love and kindness Blade and Penny showed absolutely astounds me.  It’s easy to say “Well, it’s your child, of course that’s what you do.”  But…and I’m going to be honest….I’d like to think I would but I’m really not sure.    As I said before: in a similar situation, I bowed out and went home early.  I just don’t know if I have it in me.  Little did I know how tough Penny actually was when I first met her.

This is my moment of silence honoring this brave family.  I am truly touched by their story and I hope you are too.  If you want to learn more about Peyton, here is a link to her webpage on trisomy18.org.  If you’re so moved, they do accept donations (no, the family doesn’t know I’m writing this.)

Finally, I’d like to end with a poem Peyton’s aunt read at her funeral.  It’s quite beautiful.

Parable of Immortality ( A ship leaves . . . )
by Henry Van Dyke – 1852 – 1933

I am standing on the sea shore,
A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
“She is gone.”

Gone! Where?
Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
“She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
“There she comes”

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