It seems like yesterday that I asked my annual favor of everyone tied to Isabella’s Day but apparently another year has passed. For many of you reading this story, Isabella has probably touched your life through me. For many of you, we probably would not have met were it not for Isabella and her impact on my life. I made a promise to her that I would lead a good life…….be a good person………make a difference…..try to do more for the world than it does for me. I still have work to do. I have more improvements to make and I certainly have more things to accomplish but I would say I am on the right track. As I write this post, I know I could look Isabella in the eyes and tell her I am a better person today than I was a year ago. Improvement is good. The beauty of having your own personal Angel sitting in Heaven, though, is that you do not actually have to tell her…….she just knows or so that is what I choose to believe. While I do not walk around preaching the bible and while I drop a few too many foul words throughout the day and while I have a warped sense of humor that might be inappropriate for Heaven (although I am sure God has to fight back some laughter), I believe my little girl is with me all the time. I believe she meets me at the finish line of all my races and, while it may sound unbelievable to you……..I actually feel her from time to time. It very well could be my imagination but I have trouble with that theory because I am not walking around in life waiting for a sign that angels exist. Faith in anything is about believing with no sign of proof. I just live my life and try to make the best of most days. I try to do my very best at work so the company I work for is successful and that the team I work on can shine. I try to be the best Dad and husband I can be and I try to be someone that motivates others to do things they maybe thought were impossible. I try to beat cancer and will continue to do so until a cure is found. Along this road I travel…….from time to time………I feel my daughter. It is very infrequent, always quite unexpected and most times almost drops me to my knees in tears. Some of those tears are certainly sad because I miss my daughter…….I miss not getting to see her grow up……….I miss not getting to see her make mistakes……….I miss not getting to hear her laughter. I know I never heard my daughter but hopefully you understand what I mean. The silence on Christmas and Easter and the first day of school and August 1st is deafening and I would much rather have the sound of her voice so………..I miss it. Anyway, while some of these tears are sad there is also a huge part of these moments that are overwhelming in an amazing way. For a tiny moment in time, I feel connected to my little one and, be it true or not, the feeling is real. I would attempt to describe these moments but I am not nearly the writer I would need to be to do justice to the experience so I will leave it to your imagination.
For this year I put together a short video. You may have to watch this video on a PC as I work through copyright issues with YouTube but for now I am in compliance. In the video are some pictures of my time with Isabella………the nine months she grew safe and secure with my wife and the few minutes we had with her after she passed. I apologize if this is tough to watch or moves you to tears. That is not my plan but it might happen. I have pictures of Isabella from the hospital. I usually go out of my way ‘not’ to look at them but this year I had the courage to look once again. August 1, 2003 was a bad day. I am sure you can feel the sadness that was present when looking at the photos taken in the hospital. It was a horrible day….truthfully the worst….. but the story, as you probably know, did not end there. It took a few days but I stood up. I gained strength and I tried to give that strength to others. A horrible day out of which came amazing things. I also included a picture in the video that was used for the Isabella’s Day 2012 post taken by Rich Cruse, an amazing photographer. It is the way I like to imagine my little girl today……..a huge smile running around the beach. The last photo (actually a video clip) comes from a place deep within and is how I imagine seeing my daughter when I someday come to meet her. I do not know how Heaven works but I hope to see Isabella as my little girl when I get there. If Heaven is what makes us happy………..Isabella will be dancing around a meadow when I open my eyes after my time here is done. This really leads into the song that is playing behind the video. The song is called Bella and is by Angus and Julia Stone. A friend heard this song……knew of my story……….and sent it to me and I have listened to it almost every day since. Outside of my story, the song is amazing and I highly recommend the entire album called ‘A Book Like This’. I could not tell you what the song means to the artists. I only know what it means to me and it is about the time when I actually meet my little girl. I refuse to listen to all of the words in great detail because I hear what I hear and if I piece all of the lyrics together that meaning might change. The song opens with a young girl saying the words ‘Hello’. To me, those words are from my little girl as I open my eyes in another place. From there we proceed to do whatever she wants to do. I am just happy to be with her but at some point I stop her and ask ‘Can I have this dance with you?”. I always dance with my kids. I grew up in a techno/trance/hip hop world and despite being an old dude, my mind remembers the clubs so going crazy with my kids is the best. This dance with Isabella will be different though (although if Heaven is what makes you happy there will certainly be some bumping music). This dance will be a slow dance to make up for lost years…...my excuse to be able to hold her tight. From there we continue to do all of the extraordinary things I hope you can do in Heaven but at some point I stop and just watch Isabella dance around……..in a meadow which leads to the lyrics I always remember from this song:
“There she sits with them big old fields of daisies and rusty mills.
And when the sun it shines on her hair of gold,
I miss my little girl with her hair of gold. August 1st will be tough as always but I will make the best of it and spend time with my wife reflecting on a bad day but a great life. If you could do that favor for me one more time, I would appreciate it. It is simple but a grand gesture to help me remember a little girl that helped define me. In case you need a reminder of what the favor is or might be hearing it for the first time……..all I ask is that at any time throughout the day on 8/1/13, just raise a glass to Isabella. It could be your bottle of Nuun at the end of a long run or your coffee to start the day. It could be a sip of water or an expensive bottle of wine. None of that matters. Helping me remember is the important thing. As always thank you so much!
Christopher D. Wilno