The “last year this time”s are flooding my mind like crazy. Last year this time was the last day that my sweet Sadie woke up in the safety of our home. It was the last time I got to get her ready for a “normal” day. It was her last day at day care. I was on my way to a Thanksgiving celebration at work, where I proclaimed how thankful I was that God miraculously healed my baby from meningitis. I had no idea that later that evening, we would be rushing her back to the ER at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. I thought we were in the clear, when in reality the nightmare had only just begun. We were allowed a short reprieve and a few sweet days with our babygirl at home. I miss her so much. A year later, the pain is still so deep. We are starting to come to grips with our new reality, and we actually have some “good” days, but the thought of our sweet Sadie is never more than an instant away. I long desperately for the day I can think of my precious child and want to do something besides cry. She was pure joy. She was one of God’s greatest gifts in my life, yet I cry. I cry because I love her so much, and I am so disappointed in how her sweet life was cut short. At least in my mind. I have to constantly remind myself that God knew the number of her days before one of them came to be. That He had, and HAS, a plan for her life, and for our lives, too. In light of all that we have endured over the past year, I am changed. I am still Amber, but not the same Amber as before. It’s been a hard reality, because I kind of liked being happy, perky, fun-loving Amber. Those things don’t come as naturally these days…they’re still in there, but are immediately met with the heartache that permeates in our lives these days. I have had to rediscover myself and meet the new me. I want to be someone I can live with. Someone who can still find joy in the day. Someone who can laugh, be happy, and be an encouragement to others, despite the pains of this life. Oftentimes, I have questioned why this life has to be a prerequisite to what is ahead. If Heaven is all about joy and happiness, then why does pain and heartache have to be a part of our life experience here on Earth? I am coming to the realization that, as painful and hard as it is, the pains of this life have the ability to shape us into better people. To make us stronger. To make us realize that our strength is not our own, but comes from God. To remind me that no, I don’t have everything under control. And to remember that God will give me the strength and endurance to make it through anything. His power and love are revealed through our weaknesses. And if we are transparent enough to let others see that we are not superheroes, then maybe they will be encouraged to lean in to the Lord as well. Realizing that He can do the same for them. I never knew what it was like to REALLY have to trust the Lord until the past year. I lost not only my sweet Sadie, but I had to say goodbye to my Daddy, too. Cancer is a beast, and has changed the face of our family. Yet we still wake up each day, searching for purpose and meaning to all of this. I truly believe that, because I am still here, and still have the privilege of breathing in and out, that God has a purpose for me here…today…right now. May I be the Amber He wants me to be…here…today…right now. I love you all. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement. For your love. And for walking this journey with us. I have never experienced outstretched arms like I have over the past year. We feel your prayers. We know that you hurt with us. Thank you all for inserting yourselves into our lives and for growing, loving, and living with us.