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Stand with Faith. How do you do that? What does it mean? Does it make any sense? What kind of faith? Faith in what? Those were just a few of the questions I kept mulling over before I locked in a title for this blog.

This has been a long time coming and it’s going to be a huge work in
progress. There are posts from carepages, deleted blogs, blogs with other names, videos, pictures and stories scattered throughout cyberspace. Not to mention the words written in my heart and the images in my mind. Friends and family have heard bits and pieces, but it’s always been edited for the audience. Not once has it all been laid out there on the table for everyone to see, hear, feel, and judge.

As you read, you will see that Stand with Faith has a lot of meanings, but more than anything it means that you can heal. The process that begins in an “infinity of darkness” where you have no strength, and at some point emerge steady and whole.

So here it goes…

Four years ago, I had a really good thing going. I had a supportive and loving husband, a beautiful healthy daughter, a lovely home on a pristine street, a job working in sports, a great family and super fun and interesting friends.

Do you hate me yet? Yeah, I kinda do too.

It’s not that I didn’t work hard to get where I was, because I did. Was I deserving of all of this greatness?

Nope.

Did I feel like I was entitled to it? I am embarrassed to say, probably.

On April 3, 2008 I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and went upstairs to get my daughter Alexis out of her crib. She was smiling and pointing at her toys. It was my favorite part of the day- that early greeting followed by a little bit of snuggle time. In fact, my husband Brandon liked it too, so we usually raced up the
stairs to see who could get to her first. Alexis ate her pumpkin muffins for breakfast and watched Little Einstein’s. I dressed her in a new spring outfit that she received for her birthday. She used her tiny blue Precious Moments brush on her itty bitty ponytail. Then she tried to squirm off of the bed. I grabbed
her before she could fall, put her back up, put her shoes on, and she squirmed again.

Once her feet hit the floor, she was off, running down the hall and up the stairs. I was close behind laughing and secretly wondering how I was going to keep up with her. I finished getting ready, she walked out to the car, I put her in her car seat. Brandon and I got in, and we drove away from our home.

I couldn’t stop looking back at her. She was so happy. And she was staring deep into my eyes. She sang, but something about her smile…it was haunting.

We pulled into the daycare a little after 9:00 a.m. and handed her over. We drove away from our daughter.

I saw her an hour later. Her spring outfit had been cut in half.

She wasn’t smiling.

She wasn’t moving.

She had EMT’s, doctors, and nurses surrounding her. She had a mask and a man pumping a bag to keep her breathing. We were losing our daughter.

CT scan, phone calls, seizures, phone calls, nurses, sheriffs, police officers, and a life flight team carrying our baby away on a stretcher. We watched our dying child fly away with strangers.

It didn’t dawn on me to pray. Thank God others were. Thank God there were people already pulling me out of the infinity of darkness.

 

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.

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