Facing death and choosing life

2 years ago today, my daughter Caroline had a boating accident that would change her life forever, and mine.  I would never in a million years want to walk that path again, and yet it is an experience that leaves me profoundly grateful.  This is the letter I wrote her to celebrate today.  She wanted me to share it with you.

 

 Several hours of surgery from a remarkable team and one strong spirit.  The road to recovery begins.  

Several hours of surgery from a remarkable team and one strong spirit.  The road to recovery begins.  

My strong, brave, Super C,

It has been 2 years since you earned that nickname.  Since the day you so bravely endured an accident that would change your life.  I spent many hours in the hospital imagining the pain you were going through, but I have spent two years marveling at how you have turned this unfortunate event into a pivotal moment and used it to live out loud—showing the world your true colors, shedding the princess for the brave endurance athlete in the sport of life.  

 Every step of the way, this strong girl has chosen to win at life.

Every step of the way, this strong girl has chosen to win at life.

When I first saw you laying on the gurney in the emergency room I knew you were on a path that had to be your own.  As much as I wanted to take away your pain, I could not.  Today, I am glad that I couldn’t.  That pain taught you what a warrior you are.  It showed you that you could get through things you never thought you could.  That pain forced you to use your voice to tell doctors who were much older than you (and supposedly smarter!) how you needed them to work with you.  That pain showed us all the grit that you have in your soul— to heal from a very difficult and painful accident.  That grit is going to take you further than perhaps any other character trait you have, Caroline.  It will help you persevere in chasing the dreams you already own, and the ones you have yet to imagine.  It will get you through your next hard thing, and the one after, and help you move through them and on to the other side of frolicking through your days once again.  

One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching your child go through pain.  While in the moment I would have done anything to take it away, I know it was shaping you beautifully.  I would never want to remove the gifts that the pain has given you.  

What I see in you now is a determined girl who is full of compassion.  One who can walk into a room full of German speakers and confidently introduce herself.  One who attracts friends wherever she goes, and keeps them for a lifetime because you love them where they are, not where you wish they were.  You know what it’s like to live through something really painful, and you find ways to help others live through their pain when they need you. 

 She's spent this year exploring Europe with an unquenchable thirst for adventure.

She's spent this year exploring Europe with an unquenchable thirst for adventure.

It is important to remember this day, because it is the one that reminds me just how precious every single day of life is with the ones we’ve been gifted into loving.  It’s the day that showed me how to coach you instead of doing things for you.  Today is the day that reminds us that we are always growing, and no matter how hard that growth is, it is all helping us get to be better and better, to learn to love more deeply, to care for others in larger ways.  With the wisdom of these lessons and the grit I know you have, you will continue to change the world in large and small ways, and I am so thrilled I get to be one of many people who will cheer you on your path.  

 Today, I celebrate your life— the way that you never take a day for granted, you pack them full of cuddles with family, fun with friends, workouts at the pool and on the volleyball court, and jamming your brain full of all kinds of knowledge.  I love you so much, and I am amazed at the life you continue to create for yourself, and for those who love and need you to keep living your very big dreams in your compassionate, fun-loving, brave ways.  

I love you, Super C.