Today began with Laura, Maya, and I making our way to the airport. The day began gray and rainy. We drove to one of our favorite restaurants where we had lunch. While at the restaurant, Maya was extra snuggly; as if she knew that she wasn’t going to see me for a while. After we ate, we continued on to the airport. I dropped off Laura and Maya for their trip to Arizona.
After dropping them off, I had something planned. Maya’s 4th birthday is Sunday, and the past few days, I’ve been thinking…remembering…feeling. I headed south. I passed Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM). The memories that have been coming back over the past few days became clearer. I kept going south. I arrived at Dupont, Washington. This is a small community and there isn’t much here. But this was my home for a week and a half nearly four years ago. I parked next to the Forza Coffee Company. I walked in, ordered a venetian latte, and sat in one of their plush leather chairs. Laura and I were frequent visitors to this caffe during this time. It was a small retreat from our misfortune. Through the windows, I saw the Liberty Inn. Here is where Laura and I lived when Maya underwent surgery right after birth. Maya had a condition that occurs to 1 in 4,000 newborns called tracheoesophageal fistula. She had the most common type, and Madigan Army Medical Center had a surgeon who had some experience with the condition and was able to repair the defect.
As I sat at the cafe, a parade of emotions made its way through my mind. Shock, helplessness, sadness, followed by hope and happiness. As I sat, the sun began to peak through the clouds. I slowly walked down the main road toward the Liberty Inn. I stood looking at the entrance and felt thankful. We live about 45 minutes from JBLM. After Maya’s surgery, we were told about the Fisher House Foundation. This is a non-profit that, among other things, provides temporary lodging for families in our position. We called them, explained our situation and they set us up at the Liberty Inn for a week and a half – all free of charge. As brand new parents, that have been thrown a curve-ball, Laura and I were clearly stressed and unsure of every move we made, or how things would turn out. The Fisher House took the stress of visitation out of the picture. Laura and I would be able to see Maya every day that she was in the NICU. I will always be indebted to, and grateful for, the Fisher House.
I headed back to my car, got in and sat for a moment. I thought about the last four years I’ve had with Maya and how I’m fortunate to have known such an amazing person. I look forward to joining her and Laura in Arizona for her birthday on Sunday, as well as all the time we will have together in the future.