Thursday, December 31, 2009

I can't believe 2009 is almost over. I am glad to see the end of it as it has been the worst year of my life. I don't think I even remember a third of it, but I'm sure that's a good thing, a self-protection of sorts. I was thinking back tonight and at first it didn't seem like we had accomplished much at all this year. I still haven't went back to work, we haven't figured out if/how we will get to be parents again, and I don't make it out of bed, to the shower, and dressed every day.

So what did we did this year? With the help of friends and family, we put together the fundraiser cookbook that has sold over 400 copies. We had a first family fun 5K for Eli's birthday. We had 4 bake sales that made nearly a combined $1000. We met with our Congressman and helped add another supporter for the SMA bill in the House. We pulled together with our friends and family to buy a truckload of crab toys to take to the Children's Hospital and have also made several trips to Ronald McDonald House to drop off pop tabs and supplies. Friends in Maryland even got coworkers involved and raised over $1200 for Unite! Not bad for a year spent living in a grief-filled fog I suppose.

I learned a lot this past year too. I learned how amazing my family is... My mom and dad have been by my side this whole year. Most of that time has been in spirit rather than in person, but that counts just as much. Mom was here through our last 3 weeks with Eli and held him and loved him no matter how tired she got. She battled through her daily pain to get together a bake sale and a yard sale to help us with our Unite effort. She personally sold over 200 cookbooks. My parents traveled to Lexington with good friends and walked in the SMA walk to honor Eli. The time of Eli's funeral is all a bit of a blur, but I remember seeing Stiltners all around me during that time. They drove the 1000+ miles to be here. My family, well...they are like no other family. I love you all.

Friends.... I am so thankful for our friends. We have a variety of friends, each unique in their support and love. They have all offered different types of support and have all been the crutch that kept us from falling over this year. From helping organize the walk, baking for the sales, and getting petition signatures, they have been awesome. Several of them have given me some amazing gifts over the past weeks, but all of them have given their love and time to lend a shoulder, shed some tears, or just drag my sorry butt out of the house. Some stood alongside side us for the walk, others came to release birthday balloons, and some were almost constant fixtures at our house on the weekend... Thank you all for all the support over this past year.

Now what will 2010 hold? I don't want to make resolutions. I'm a bit against making plans now. I had a lot of plans before and now I'm stuck with toddler clothes and crib converters that I'm not sure I'll even get to use. I can't plan now. Plans don't go how we want them so why waste time? I do want to make some goals though. I want to get back to Weight Watchers and lose this weight again. I felt like a totally different person when I was 70lbs lighter and I kind of miss that Rita. My doctor said a loss of 10-20% would be a good start if we were thinking of trying again or making an appointment at one of the IVF clinics, so there is an added bonus to weight loss. I want to figure out a new career path. I am still debating on this teaching thing, but I hope I can get on some substitute lists and maybe get in the classroom and see how it feels. That goal is a little difficult, not one I'm sure of meeting, but I want to put it out there as something I want to work on. Finally, I want to make my house look like and feel like a home. I want to organize, paint, decorate...whatever it takes to make it feel like we didn't just move in. On that note, I also want to be a better housekeeper and stay on top of my cleaning chart.

Wishes for the new year? I wish/hope/want Jason to find a good friend who lives nearby. I know he must feel lonely a lot and I'm not always the best company. His friend Charles has been great about being around when it counts, but I'd like for him to have someone closer to hang out with. He doesn't have a good support system in his life and I don't always feel like I'm strong enough to hold him up. Men seem to really struggle making friends so I have no idea how to make this happen, but I hope something falls into place. He is such an amazing guy and anyone would be truly lucky to call him a friend.

I wish/hope/dream for a cure for SMA. So many new articles come out every day about promising research studies. I hope we can send enough funding towards that effort to make it happen. I will keep playing the lottery on the 100+ million dollar nights in hopes of winning. Eli's name would look pretty awesome on a research building. :) I live in constant frustration that the lack of cure is due to a lack of funding, but that keeps me working on raising more money.

I hope to make progress on being a parent again. I don't know if that will mean adoption, IVF, or just playing the odds and hoping to win, but I hope we can decide on a plan and start working on it. Sometimes I don't think I want to because no other child will be my sweet Eli, but I know I can't have him back. I also know we have lots of plans and would make damn good parents.

So....goodbye 2009. Please take all the sadness, pain, and anger with you as you exit.

(I'm sure there are tons of words left out, spelling and grammar errors, and who knows what else in that novella above, but forgive is late and I'm writing through tears.)


Anonymous said...

My 2009 started with holding Eli as close to my heart as i could hold him. That was the only holiday i had with Eli.I missed so much with him.That was my one regret time lossed with Eli.Miles aways he was never out of grandmas heart and thoughts.I just want you to know Rita and Jason how much we love you . And the gift you gave us if only for a short time meant more to us than you'll ever know.We love you Baby Eli

Victoria Strong said...

Rita, This is painfully and beautifully written. You HAVE accomplished so, so much and all the while enduring a pain like no other. You are always in my thoughts.

Lisa said...

You are a beautiful strong woman, and I wish you a new year filled with many smiles! I cannot comprehend how difficult this year was for you and your husband; and I only pray that 2010 will be inspiring beyond belief!!!! thank you for sharing your thoughts and I think that you should know that you are doing a wonderful job and I know that Eli is smiling down on you!
Be well....thinking of you and sending you positive energy!
Lisa :)