|360 Degrees of Transformation||
I have a fantastic daughter. Her name is Jesse Jo. What an adventure! She's been through quite a bit in her ten years. Mainly she has had to deal with the loss of people in her life. People who once were consistent in her life, have now dropped out. She's struggled with the loss and rejection of important male role models, but she's since gained some. She struggles with eating issues. I suspect she also struggles with some depression, which tends to run in the family. She has had to deal with not enough attention from me because her sister takes so much time and energy on my part. She's such a smart girl! She started learning to read when she was three. Sometimes there are difficult days, but she is a good big sister, always trying to help me. She is very compassionate, always willing to help her teachers.
I was very young when I got pregnant, only nineteen, and I had no place to live at the time. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around (she's my turkey, born on Thanksgiving Day), I had a place to live. Her father had decided he didn't want to stay with me after I told him I was pregnant, so it was just me, Jesse Jo, and our cat, Gary. At the time, it was awful. He broke my heart and my trust. Now, however, it ended up being a good thing that we were not together.
In 2008, we moved to across the state. That was a big change, but one that was for the best. School was good through kindergarten and first grade. She started having problems in second grade. She was in the challenge program, but I couldn't help her much because I had to take care of her sister's stuff. She tends to keep her feelings pretty quiet, and isn't comfortable talking about her difficulties, so when I would try, it was almost always a fight of frustration.
In 2012, Jesse Jo's good friend, E, died. Jesse Jo would go to visit her sometimes, after she was diagnosed, even though it didn't sound hopeful that E would make it. E's mother gave me a chance to keep Jesse Jo away from that sadness, but how would that be fair for either of the girls? Jesse Jo would have missed out on some special memories and E would have felt so sad without a friend. Such sadness, she was a beautiful sweet girl, and her parents are good people. When I told Jesse Jo E had died, she didn't really react. It takes her awhile to process things. She's has grieved for her friend, but she hasn't forgotten about her. She will sometimes mention her, just in a comment. Today, we were listening to a song, and she told me that it was E's favorite song. She is still in our memories, and we think of her with love.
One of Jesse Jo's biggest trials occurred exactly one year ago today. We had a new adult cat that we adopted from the shelter. We had had him about three months. We were at home, packing to take a trip over to see my mom. The sliding glass door was open, screen shut, and there was a stray cat on our porch. Our cat was hissing and growling at this other cat. I told Jesse Jo to stay away from them, and then I went upstairs. I was on the phone when I heard what sounded like a cat fight, and then she was screaming in terror. I went to the top of the stairs, as she was coming upstairs, her hands over her face, blood streaming from her face, through her hands. I felt like I was watching a horror movie. I hung up the phone, put a towel on her face, and we ran to the hospital.
WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The staff at the hospital were so kind. I was trying not to panic, because I knew that she had been scratched near her eye. I was terrified she was going to be blind. I called a friend, who came down to be with us, and the children's pastor from church came to see her too. God bless the doctor who decided to transport her to the Children's Hospital where a plastic surgeon could stitch up her face. When the hospital staff asked her what happened, she told them that it wasn't the cat's fault. What had happened was that she was trying to save our cat. She picked him up from behind, while he was involved in the fight with the outside cat. He wasn't expecting to be attacked from behind, and he freaked out and latched on to her face.
We rode in an ambulance to Children's. The first time either of us had been in an ambulance. We arrived, and they put her in a room. My friend drove down to meet us, and my sister, who lived nearby, also came to be with us. Jesse Jo was in really good spirits. When she was at the hospital in our hometown, she was worried she would have to have stitches, because she was supposed to start school in four days. Now, when the doctors came in to discuss their course of action, her concern was for other children. The doctors told us that they would either put the stitches in while in the emergency room, or take her up to surgery to do it. Jesse Jo opted for the emergency room because she said she didn't want to take the surgery rooms away from kids who really needed them. I love that girl!
They decided to take her in to surgery, and they did fantastic! They put over seventy stitches in her face alone, then she had one in her finger, and a few in her scalp.
We went home the same night.
In the beginning, she wondered why it happened to her. Now she says that it happened so that she can tell people about how God saved her. She still cuddles with our cat. She never got mad at him, but recognized that he attacked out of fear. One year later, this is her beautiful face. She didn't lose her eyesight, except for not being able to open her eyes for a few days after surgery. We all gained a lesson from this, and also a knowledge of how much people cared for us. At the time of the attack, we were packing to leave for my mom's, because Eliska was there. I had to pick Eliska up before school, but after the attack, I was more comfortable leaving Jesse Jo with trusted people then I was traveling six hours one way with her to my mom's. So she stayed a couple days with our pastor and his family. It was a big job to take care of her, but they did, and some of our church family came and loved on her. I'm not sure she realized how much she was loved by our Assembly of God family until that happened.
Jesse Jo is starting fifth grade this year. Last year was the best school year she had had in a long time. This summer, she made a decision on her own to grab something for herself and hold on. She loves to creatively bake, and likes to cook. She participates in drama, and she's good at performing and speaking in front of groups. She loves to swim, and she likes to pretend she's a mermaid. She's a good artist, loves to read, and engages adults in serious conversation. Jesse Jo is very opinionated, she argues, and she knows what she wants. I'm not worried that she will conform to whatever others are doing. She's a very old soul, and a deep thinker, even if she doesn't often share it. She is learning what her identity is. I have told her that the stuff that has happened to her sucks, but it doesn't mean she is unloveable, unworthy, or unimportant. I remind her of all the people who do love her, and I remind her that God loves her. I tell her she is beautiful. Now she just rolls her eyes at me. "I know, Mom" she says. But I tell her anyways. She's missed a lot of people in her life. People who have died, and people who have walked out, to their loss. She keeps on going strong. My treasure, God's girl.
We might be in different places, but all of us are on a journey.
Leah's Life Verses