Tag Archive: Love

Cabby and Baby Abby


When I was fifteen I met someone who changed my life completely and irrevocably. Abby was my cousin Ilene’s fifth child and she changed life for the entire family. Abby was born with Down Syndrome and like many babies born with Down Syndrome she needed surgery to correct having her intestines separated, the hospital took Abby back for surgery when she was less than 24 hours old. Abby had an allergic reaction to the anesthetic and she coded (a cardio-pulmonary event) that resulted in her brain going without oxygen for fifteen minutes. Due to this traumatic event the labels and diagnoses attached to Abby grew to include Cerebral Palsy with Spastic Quadriplegia, Reactive Airway Disease, Sleep Apnea, GERD, Dysphasia, and significant Global Developmental Delays to name a few. After staying in NICU for a week Abby was taken back into surgery, given different meds and did great. She remained in the hospital another month before her family got to bring her home and begin adjusting to their new normal.

Little Jimmy and Abby

Abby with her older brother Little Jimmy

During these early months of Abby’s life we spent a lot of time with them all and Abby and I bonded in a unique and special way. She opened my eyes to the world of children with special needs who fight every minute of every day to live their lives to the fullest and defy all the odds. The trauma for Abby and our entire family did not stop there unfortunately. When Abby was fourteen months old her older brother, Little Jimmy (two at the time), accidentally drowned in the family pool in the backyard. the pain and loss of this event are impossible to explain and forever changed the family once again. The next few years were full of family turmoil, as is often common after the loss of a child. Abby continued to grow and develop in the midst of this turmoil and she was still beating all the odds and doing things the doctors thought she never could, to include recognizing people, places and sounds as well as rolling herself across the floor.

young abby

Fast forward to last year, when Abby was twelve years old and her doctors decided her scoliosis had gotten to the point that she needed spinal fusion surgery (basically placing rods in her back to keep her spine straighter). Anytime surgery and Abby are in the same sentence the family all gets a little nervous. Abby had her surgery and it corrected an 80% curvature of the spine to 40%. Abby’s one spinal surgery turned into four surgeries after she developed a severe infection. She ended up having to have an open wound vac and iv antibiotics for six months at home. In the middle of this latest struggle Abby began acting strangely and then one day her Mom couldn’t wake her up. Abby was rushed to the hospital with a blood sugar level of 1200 and in a diabetic coma. It was then that we all learned that Abby had Type 1 Diabetes. It took Abby three days to come out of the coma and she remained in the hospital for another nine days as she recovered.

Today Abby is a lot things; the most important parts of her are often overlooked. She is a fighter, stubborn as can be with a huge heart. She loves hugs, kisses, toys that make noise and being around people who love her. Currently Abby is wheelchair dependent, non-verbal and fed through a G-tube. Abby’s spine has to be supported at all times and she just received a new wheelchair tailor made for her. She clearly loves being able to comfortably enjoy the company of her family outside of a hospital bed.
Abby SmilingI got to see Abby a few weeks ago for the first time in years. I cried as soon as she grabbed my hand and the moment I saw comprehension cross her face as she remembered me and starting pulling me close for continual hugs. I also got to see how amazing she is doing and how hard her family is working to get her the best care imaginable. Abby has her new chair but her family does not have a vehicle equipped to get her around in so when Abby needs to go to the doctors (the only time she can leave now) she has to travel by ambulance. I have made it a personal mission to raise the funds to get Abby a van with a wheelchair lift so she can return to living a full and active life. If you can help me reach that goal I greatly appreciate it, if not please add Abby to your prayers and share her story of strength with everyone you know.

Cabby and AbbyIf you want to help Abby here are the ways :

Follow her story on FB : A Full Life for Abby FB Page

Donate and/or Share her Gofundme page: Get Abby a Wheelchair Van Gofundme Page

Shop the Thirty-One Fundraiser between August 1-14: Thirty-One Fundraiser


9/11 A Day of Love

We all have those stories, the stories that tell where we were the moment we learned our country was under attack. Some of us were at work far from our families and worried for them, some of us were home with our children as we held them a little tighter, some of us were in uniforms across the country and the world and were ready and willing to stand up to the dangers, some of us were children in a classroom suddenly silent. Too many of us were unwittingly in the path of hatred, madness and destruction. All of us were stopped in our tracks and unalterably changed by the losses we suffered.  As a country we gathered around our televisions, held each other tight and watched the world as we knew it change.

Despite how you feel about current or former political situations in our Country, we all must acknowledge the significance of this day. September 11, 2001 irrevocably changed the world.  Acknowledging this day does not mean we live in fear or sadness nor does it mean we are in any way honoring the actions of terrorists. We need to celebrate the lives of those we lost and honor the American Heroes that offered (and continue to offer) their lives for the defense of their Country. We need to take a moment today to be thankful that the terrorist did not win, we are still here and still moving forward. Most importantly, we need to remember the lesson we learned that day; we are strongest when we are united. United does not mean we always agree, but it does mean that we always honor and respect each other and it means that our unity is always more important than the trivial things that divide us. Today should, if nothing else, remind us of the importance of loving our neighbors and living in community.  Love should be the message in all of our hearts today.

We were put on this planet to love each other, something that is not easy when there are so many areas of division in our culture and in our hearts. On a day like today we must all acknowledge a certain truth; those divisions are ultimately pointless. We do not need to agree with a person to love them, if we did love would prove impossible. We are all unique, there has never been and will never be another soul in this world exactly like you. Or exactly like me. That is astounding and makes the preciousness of life all the more real. We get caught up in the day to day aspects of life; work, kids, responsibilities and desires and we forget why we are here in the first place. If we all do nothing else today to honor the memory of 9/11 we should at least love one another. We lost almost 3,000 lives on 9/11 and many more since then in the Middle East and around the world. Imagine what the world would look like if we all committed ourselves to doing at least 3,000 acts of love for someone in our community.  Maybe that is too tangible a goal when discussing something as immense as loving our neighbors.  Maybe our goal should be to live each and every day of our lives trying to show enough love to each other that we are all at least 3,000 times stronger. I do not know what the answer is, all I know is that love is now and forever the answer, no matter the question, the answer is love. 

Our Adoption Shower

Any woman who finds herself dreaming of a family has at one time or another pictured the joy of her baby shower; the people who will come, the excitement for the new miracle joining the family and the love that will surround you. This is no different for mothers who are building their families through adoption. What is different however is the reaction of those around you to the announcement that a new child is coming. When families announce a pregnancy there is very little (other than possibly the sex of the baby) that is left unknown. You know the mother will be giving birth to an infant so you know exactly the type of things those parents will need to traverse their first days as parents. However, when a family announces that they are adopting (especially through foster care) the possibilities seem endless. How old will the child be? Any age is possible. How many children will you be getting? In our case: anywhere from one to four at one time. When will the child(ren) be arriving? Any second after our certification is complete, which will be the early fall of this year.  How long will the child(ren) be staying? A day, a few weeks, a few months, a year or forever- we do not know yet. These possibilities can make the whole thing hard to wrap your mind around or not a reality to your friends and family. Here is what is not different for the parents: we are filled with love, joy and terror because regardless of the shape it will take we will be a family any day now; we also need the love and support of our friends and family as we begin this new chapter of our lives just as we would if we were expecting our first child naturally.

Tyler and I are so blessed to have wonderful people in our lives who completely understood these facts and they made our Adoption Shower everything we could have hoped for. My two closest friends Holly and Courtney were generous enough to offer to throw us a shower in celebration of our family growing. The theme of the shower was (no surprises here for anyone who knows me) books, specifically children’s books. Holly and Courtney instructed everyone to bring a book to help us build our children’s libraries in lieu of a card with their gifts. We were also fortunate that we already have the really big things like furniture, all we needed/wanted to prepare us for welcoming our children home were toys, games and room décor. Our friends and family came through in amazing ways and I still tear up every time I remember the shower. First of all the shower itself was AMAZING!! Holly and Courtney created amazing decorations, hilarious games and planned a delicious array of snacks.  I loved the book banner so much that we have decorated the kid’s room around that theme. 


Secondly, the people nearest and dearest to our hearts were there to celebrate with us. The biggest surprise guest of all being my Mom, who lives in Michigan and flew down for the shower. She pulled off such a sneaky trick, she told me all week leading up to the shower how sad she was to miss it. Then while the final touches were being put on the decorations who  should walk in my front door, none other than my Mom. This was followed by lots of tears and hugs from me, Holly and Courtney. She shocked us all. It really was the final piece of the puzzle that made the day amazing. My Rudisill family, my Mom and all the friends who have become family were able to shower us with love and show their excitement for our family growing through adoption. The gifts were fantastic but it was the love and support from those present that made the day perfect. ❤ The love was overflowing at our shower and it would not have been complete without the love of our nieces and nephews (not all pictured below) who cannot wait to become cousins. I know our children are coming into a family and community of love and support and I could not ask for anything better.