The Real Alissa Update

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Well . . . large portions of this might sound familiar to many of you.  Good grief!  Just when I think I can’t be any more inept in life, I find yet another wonderfully creative way to show my ineptness.  Again, my apologies.

I did a final check.  On the CaringBridge site I used to author there were 1, 171 followers.  People all across the country really wanted to keep up with Alissa’s progress.

That is sweet.  That is also a little overwhelming.

When I shut down the CaringBridge site and switched to this blog not even close to half the people made the jump with me.  Just a small percentage have chosen to follow and receive posts in their in-box weekly, which I am told is how this blog might potentially become a career for me.  (Obviously with screw ups such as last week I might be kidding myself on that dream.)

Chad and I laugh.  I don’t know whether this means people have grown weary with the paralysis story, or they decided if it wasn’t going to be 100% about Alissa they were out.  Or maybe they just think my writing is stupid.  I tell myself it is probably the former two rather than the latter one.  And we certainly wouldn’t blame people if they were tired of it all.  So are we.

But some very faithful people continue to pray like crazy and have let us know time and time again they are in this with us for the long haul.  And I know those folks love to hear updates.

Right now we are 5 1/2 weeks from the end of school and Alissa’s graduation.  Emotionally, spring has always been the most difficult season since the wreck, and this spring has been no exception.  Thankfully there are many events to look forward to this summer, and we are busy getting ready for Alissa’s upcoming graduation.  And because her “mean parents” are making her, she even plans to take a few steps in her long-leg braces with the walker to receive her diploma.  Most parents in that gymnasium will take for granted the fact their child can physically and easily walk across that platform.

I assure you, Chad and I will not take one of Alissa’s steps for granted that night.

We are having a party!  We are calling it a graduation party, but that’s just the socially acceptable name for it.  It’s so much more than that.  We don’t plan to display any trophies, medals, certificates, or awards.  Those are all temporal and will burn someday.  Instead, we will have a few fun pictures of Alissa as we plan to celebrate the goodness of the Lord and what He has done in Alissa’s eighteen years.  It will be a wonderful, fantastic day to share with others and thank them for how they’ve poured into Alissa’s life.

Alissa’s summer is completely booked.  She will wrap up her job at a local counseling center, go to Chicago multiple times for therapy in the trial exoskeleton, and attend her first week-long athletic camp for paraplegic adults.  All this while she is getting ready to move out of our house for her freshman year of college.  She never wavered on her college choice, but what she wants to study has flipped around a bit.  Right now she has landed on finance and communications. Chad and I feel those are a good fit for her interests, talents, and skills, so we will see what the Lord brings.

This summer she will continue to train a bit for the Junior Nationals Adaptive Swimming Competition.  At the recent Endeavor Games, her first adaptive swim competition, we all learned so much.  Alissa competed in six events and came home with six medals.  It was a joy to see her compete again, but I’ve assured her even if she never wins another medal in her life I wouldn’t love her any less.  There’s obviously a certain allure to keep competing and see how far it will take her in the adaptive swimming world.  On the other hand, she wants to totally focus on college and enjoy that experience, which I don’t think any mother would consider an unworthy goal for her child.  She’s talked with me a lot about it since the Endeavor Games and I’ve encouraged her to prepare for the Junior Nationals and then make her decision.  If she wants to pull back, then pull back.  If she wants to hit the gas pedal, we will do our best to support her.  Either way, I think what brings her the most joy is simply swimming laps by herself in the pool and the freedom from the wheelchair those laps provide.

All of this is meshed around her daily long-leg braces routine, as well as shoulder exercises to keep her shoulders strong enough for independent mobility.  I am thankful we will not be in Chicago the whole summer and that I will have more time to spend with Chad and Cameron.  And Alissa is anxious to begin this next leg of her life race.  She will never blend in, but she is definitely ready to not be as easily identified as she is here in Whitley County, although we realize there will be no anonymity, even at college, for the “freshman in the wheelchair.”

I think Alissa has given up any hope of ever walking normally again, but I continue to faithfully pray.  God may say “no” to that miracle here on earth, but I know the “no” will be definite if none of us ever continue to humbly ask for healing for Alissa.  And so I do.  And I will.  Maybe you do or will too.

I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone.  Although I like who we are now, I’m not a big fan of how we got here.  Please don’t think I’m prideful, but sometimes I think we make this whole paralysis-thing look somewhat easy. It is not.  Every day is still very difficult and takes so much effort way beyond the effort seen in public.  The next line I want to eradicate is, “Now that it’s been almost three years it must be getting easier.”  Um . . . no.

But even through frustrations, hardships, and tears, we are continually reminded of the goodness of God and are so incredibly thankful for the love, grace, forgiveness, and blessings He provides.  May the name of the Lord be praised!

Until next week, Lord willing, unless I mess up again.  Which is always a distinct and real possibility.