Ramona is two years old today. She’s shaping up to be a beautiful, sweet, challenging and charming little thing. She loves turtles, sitting on people’s heads, dressing up (Oh wait! That one is all me…) and playing with Simon. She’s not at all who I thought she’d be when I learned I was pregnant with her, but I just couldn’t be more delighted with the person she’s turning out to be.

I’ve been working on staying in the present, but a birthday seems like the perfect opportunity to look back and mark our path so here goes… One year ago Ramona was just learning to crawl, yesterday she RAN down the sidewalk chasing the dusting of snow. At last year’s birthday party Ramona had an NG feeding tube and a helmet. The only “external appliance” she has today are the orthotics on her feet. Today she’s talking, walking and eating all on her own. She takes just three medications, twice a day. She sleeps great. Last year a cold had her so sick that we couldn’t travel to be with family for Thanksgiving. Today she’s sniffle free and ready to party with Grandma and the crew tomorrow.

All that to say that even in the wake of some tough news it’s hard not to feel grateful. Grateful for our togetherness, Ramona has spent just 8 days in the hospital in the past year. That’s amazing! Grateful that she is developing typically, even if she’s a bit behind her peers. Grateful that she has such an energetic father and fun-loving big brother to show her how it’s done.

And I have a confession, when I used to encounter humble-in-the-face-of-adversity types I’d think that the person was either deluding themselves, bargaining with God or unable to openly discuss their feelings. I know that when we first learned of Ramona’s illness I was pretty much doing one of those things all the time (if I wasn’t crying or complaining). Maybe it’s the time that’s passed, maybe it’s the season, but these days I just feel so genuinely thankful and humbled by Ramona. If anyone’s birthday should orbit Thanksgiving, it’s hers. Because of her, I have reason every day to thank God for one more day, one more hug, one more goodnight.

And I’m thankful for all of you. In writing this post I’ve had to go back and search the archives for this and that and had the opportunity to reread some of your comments over these past two years. Your encouragement, commiseration and wisdom have helped me to cope and heal during a very special, very difficult time. Who knows what the state of our hearts would be without your support and prayers. Will you also join me in prayer for those of us who have recently lost loved ones, who have a child in the hospital and for those still waiting anxiously to experience the wondrous and terrifying experience of being a parent?

Thank you, here’s the birthday girl. I asked her to give me a big smile, and this is what I got!