Today marks 4 years since she left us. Since my heart shattered as I felt her heartbeat slowly come to a stop and I held her close to my chest that early morning in her little room at the PICU. I still remember every excruciating detail of that moment as if it happened just yesterday, and yet it's been 4 years since it happened. Even the entirety of her life, just 27 short months felt like they lasted several years, not just a couple, probably because of how much was always happening to her. I'm grateful for the relativity of time because, in moments like today where she is so completely present in my every thought, it allows me to close my eyes and be transported back to what my life was like when she was alive. I think because of her disease, I knew she wouldn't be around for a long time so I held on to every single moment and tried to memorize what it felt like. I don't want to forget her or how soft her little cheeks were when I caressed her, so I can take comfort in my memories of her. I still feel her so close to me and I think of her every single day, remembering everything I learned from her to help me live a more meaningful life.
But that doesn't mean it's not painful. The pain of losing her was the most intense pain I've ever felt, I don't know how to describe it. I guess if you've lost a child you can have some idea but still, I wish no one ever would have to experience the kind of pain in seeing your child take their last breath and not be able to help them, to just let them go when all you've been focused on is keeping them alive.
To be honest, I haven't really felt like writing in this blog for so long because I felt like I didn't want to burden anyone with my pain. At times I feel like talking about her death is something people don't want to hear or aren't ready to hear, but it's so hard not to talk about her, she is an integral part of who I am. But I definitely notice how the mood can shift in a room if I bring her up to people for the first time and I don't want to make people sad, or feel pity. When I talk about her, I try focus on what amazing impact she had, not only in my life, but in so many other people's lives.
Leah endured so much pain, so many surgeries, treatments, drugs, needle pokes, breathing problems. But she taught me what strength was because she was able to endure all of that, and still manage to smile at me when I talked to her. She just wanted to be loved, and that's what we gave her all the time. I don't know why she was with us for such a short time, but I am so grateful I got to meet her and care for her, even if only for those 27 months of her life. I learned so much about myself because of her.
I learned that although I may be hurting, I can surround myself with people who love me and find something to smile about.
I learned to appreciate and treasure the moments I spend with my family and my loved ones.
I learned that I am strong. Even when I may not think so or I don't feel strong, I can think of how I cared for her, and realize that I'm stronger than I think.
I learned that life is what we make of it. We can either a choose to be happy or to let life's challenges overcome us.
I learned that wealth isn't how much money is in my bank account but how much love is in my heart and much love I receive from others.
Leah is gone, but everything she taught me isn't. I am still here, and even through the pain of her loss, I can still tell her story (even if it makes people a little uncomfortable) and I can hopefully inspire happiness and positivity because I did survive losing her. I didn't think I would 4 years ago today, when I felt my life was over because hers was. And I'm not gonna lie, I struggle with finding meaning in my life every single day. Some days are easier than others, some days I really question the purpose of my existence, but then I picture her face and I see that she's the reason I'm here. She's my motivation to keep going, because she would always keep going. Even when the doctors kept saying each visit would be her last, she would somehow get through it. When Leah died, it was because her body could no longer keep going, but her spirit, her soul would have kept trying if she could. So, that's what I will keep doing. I will continue to live, for her, for her memory and for the lessons I learned from her and hopefully one day I can do as much good for other people in need, as she did for me.
I love you Leah, I hope I can make you proud.
May your memory continue to be a blessing to everyone who knew you.
Leah Raquel Lucia Esquenazi
2/17/2011 - 6/6/2013