6 years ago I learned that SJ was trapped in a silent world and had no way communicating with us. I longed for the day she would turn her head when I called her name or for her to speak the phrase I love you too. I imagined what her voice would sound like and the truth is it is different than what I thought it would be but it is so so beautiful. I kept thinking she might graduate early, but the school goes all the way to 2nd grade and she held out until the very end! Slowly but surely she did it. She met all of her goals. She’s ready. Life with fulltime speech therapy has come to a close. She has had to work twice as hard to do what comes naturally to hearing children, but she’s doing it and she’s that much stronger because of it.

I am a words person so I have to carve out some time on a regular basis to make sure I can express in words some of what I am feeling. Some people go for a jog, or paint, or even drink their emotions away. I write.

After SJ was born in the bathtub I wrote:

“I was in shock! I couldn’t believe that I was holding my baby! It seemed too quick, too easy, and too good to be true. After a minute of these thoughts, it finally sunk in that this was not a dream. I looked down at my daughter, my beautiful healthy baby girl and I welcomed her home.”- March 7, 2010

When SJ turned two I typed up a letter not knowing she was deaf. I wrote:

“For almost a year now you have been able to color, brush your teeth, eat with a fork, drink from a cup, unscrew lids, and dress yourself. It’s like you have the dexterity of someone twice your age, but you WILL. NOT. TALK.”- March 4, 2012

When SJ had her first hearing test I wrote:

“SJ went to the ENT specialist today and had her hearing checked per her doctor’s referral. I knew that this was a routine procedure for delayed speech. It was #8 on my list of things to do today. Simple as that. ” -April 12, 2012

When SJ had her next hearing test I wrote: 

“Eventually the lights came back on, the Doctor commended her for how well she did, then sat down to tell us the thing that, deep down, we already knew. SJ has severe hearing loss.” – May 07, 2012

When SJ had her cochlear implant surgery I wrote:

“As I type the words “The Surgery” I hope that I never have to use a title like that ever again and then I remember that this is the first of two.” -November 8, 2012

After surgery I wrote:

“In this past year of learning that SJ is deaf I have been building a wall. Every disappointment, every failed attempt at hearing added another layer to my wall. I have confessed to crying when she had her cochlear implant turned on because she didn’t react in the way I had hoped.” -December 20, 2012

As she learned to speak I wrote:

“Seeing SJ in the winter program could have been a reminder for me of how far behind she is compared to the other kids in her class. She can’t speak as well as her friends and she couldn’t quite muster out the words they had practiced for weeks, but still, that night as she stood up there and spoke into the microphone she was my shining star.” -December 17, 2013

When progress seemed slow I wrote:

SJ has started talking a bit more. We are at a place now where we can communicate our everyday needs to each other pretty well. It’s still hard though when there are so many things she wants to say, but I just don’t understand her. – September 30, 2014

As she was catching up I wrote:

“After she finished her assignment she said, “I tell  teacher I do homework by myself. Mommy, not help me.” I looked at her and said “Yeah. That’s right!” and she said You proud me. It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t Are you proud of me? She said it as a fact, because it’s true. I am proud of her. I am so so proud of her.” -October 14, 2015

When the finish line was in sight I wrote:

“This battle to give SJ a language is ending. We did it! She can communicate now! We are just tying up a few loose ends over the next year before she spreads her little wings.” -May 16, 2017

And after she graduated I wrote:

“Life with fulltime speech therapy has come to a close. She has had to work twice as hard to do what comes naturally to hearing children, but she’s doing it and she’s that much stronger because of it.” -May 25, 2018

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote my way to this pinnacle. Thousands of words poured into this blog pertaining to SJ’s hearing loss. It’s been surreal knowing how long we’ve waited for this moment and then to watch it play out like a fairytale ending is almost more than my momma heart can take. My little shining star stood at the microphone and flawlessly delivered her speech. The crowd clapped and cheered. We went home and celebrated late into the night under the stars. There was so much joy in the air and my heart was overflowing with gratitude. As the day drew to a close the extended family who had all traveled to attend the celebration got in their cars and left. The kids and my husband drifted off to sleep. The leftover food was packed up, and other than some decorations that were still hanging on the wall it was like nothing had happened. It was midnight now and the graduation was behind us. The years of struggle to give our daughter a voice was behind us. I sat down for a moment all alone in the silence. I did not write. In that moment as I sat there and took it all in… I had no words.