I've never been one to pay much attention to negativity. If there's one place it seems to run rampant it's the Internet. The World Wide Web has become the place where we see both the best and worst of humanity in a concentrated manner. Both a blessing and a curse it appears more inclined to breed and feed off the latter.
Last year when the media covered our story heavily I knew there was one part of the story I would never read, that being the comments section. I knew the comments of any media feature is the spot where people dissect the subject matter bit by bit, often saying cruel and even hateful things. I know my limits and knew I couldn't handle vile things being said about my own family.
So I never read the comments. Not one. Not ever.
There was one single comment that did manage to filtrate its way in from a well-meaning friend who mentioned it in passing. She told me how angry she was when someone made an awful comment about Ellis' bow.
Her bow? What bow?
Well you know, the picture of Ellis in the PICU where she has a bow....
Ooooohhhh that picture. I remember the one.
Apparently someone had read the People story of our family, our life, the miracle of Ellis and the only one thing they could find to comment on was the fact that she was in the PICU wearing a bow.
Seems the comment went something like this:
"Her baby is dying and she was worried about making sure she had a bow on her head?"
I sat there in shock when she told me, immediately glad I hadn't read any of the other filth possibly directed my way via strangers hiding out behind a keyboard.
Here's the real story.
For most of her hospital stay Ellis didn't have a bow on her head. She was in a bed surrounded by tubes, chords, wires and a thousand other things no child her age should be in the vicinity of.
Day after day we hoped for a miracle until finally the time came where we were told she was dying. Nothing could be done. The damage was too great.
I was alone, and absolutely beside myself when I heard the news. I spent that entire day sobbing, curled up in a ball while my closest friends rushed to the hospital to surround me, trying in vain to calm me down.
I was so distraught I couldn't even form the words to tell my friends why I was so hysterical. It literally took HOURS for me to get out a complete sentence relaying the graveness of the situation.
My baby girl was going to die. Nothing else mattered.
That day a wonderful nurse happened to be on shift. I don't envy her position of caring for a dying child while also trying to figure out what to do with a mother weeping in the corner of the room for hours on end.
That very room once filled with such light and hope had now been replaced by the darkest, stormiest clouds. Fear, worry, doubt.
I'm sure she didn't know what to do.
I didn't know what to do.
Yet somehow she seemed to understand the ache I was experiencing in the deepest parts of my soul. I had a 2-week old baby girl who, at that point, I hadn't even held in 2 weeks. My arms ached for her. She had a vent down her throat and I was begging just to hear her cry, not knowing if I ever would.
She had no clothes on, no soft blankets, none of the sweet onsies I bought in preparation for, what was supposed to be, this beautiful time of discovering her.
To some what stood before them was a patient.
To some what stood before them was a story.
To some what stood before them was a tragedy.
What stood before me was my child, my flesh and blood. My Ellis.
In that moment that nurse recognized the pain was threatening to drown me, so she did something to help.
She made my Ellis a bow.
The first version she fashioned from a yellow hospital gown. The next day she came in with an actual baby headband, which was pink, and we laughed through tears because I hated the color pink. I decided it was the most beautiful shade of pink I'd ever seen.
She put it on her head, over the hat we kept on Ellis to disguise the disturbing amounts of swelling to her brain. She may have been on display but I wanted every ounce of dignity I could provide for my beautiful baby girl.
That moment monumentally shifted something within me. It humanized my child. It dissipated the clouds that had gathered. It awakened hope once again.
Lying in that hospital crib wasn't just a baby and it wasn't just a patient.
She was my daughter.
The tiny bow wasn't a fashion statement it was a symbol.
One that signified value.
One that signified worth.
One that signified true beauty in the midst of darkness.
One that signified hope.
For one of the first times in our hospital stay someone saw beyond the truth of what was in front of them and saw through to who Ellis was.
A life to not only be "saved" but valued, no matter what state she was in.
The bow and that very moment were one of the most monumental experiences of my life.
When I was packing my miracle Ellis up to head home a week later I slipped that adorable little bow in my purse for safe keeping. It was one of the things from our experience I always wanted to keep near. Never forget.
Today I keep that little bow in a drawer I use daily in my home. Every time I open it I still marvel at its meaning and the shift a simple bow can bring.
Why do I share his story? Is it to defend myself against something a mean spirited person said? No. You can never win against people like that.
I shared it because the comment made me realize something that seems to be so lacking within our world which is this: human value and worth.
How would our world be better if instead of seeing the things that are wrong in someone we searched for what is right?
What if we held off on judgments until we had a conversation?
What if we valued people more, their stories, their worth?
What if we didn't assume, but instead we believed?
We might be moved to change by what we find.
We might be moved to tears by what we encounter.
We might be moved to hope by what we understand.
If there's one gift being judged will give you it's the ability to judge less yourself and believe more of the Gold in others, just like you would want others to believe in you.
Will that ever happen in our society? I'm not so sure.
One thing I do know is I can change the little corner of my world, and you can change the little corner of yours.
And if I ever need a reminder of why? Well, I'll look no further than the tiniest, sweetest, most adorable little bow I keep in an often-used drawer.