Stay Strong

Laura JafriLife takes us in so many directions. The way we react to life’s dealings is the key to remaining somewhat sane. 

GROWING UP
My life was somewhat sheltered as a child. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, with a stable family. We ate dinner together every night, and more importantly, loved each other very deeply. We kissed good morning, goodnight, hello, and goodbye. Both the males and females in the family openly shared our love for one another. It may be because I grew up in an immigrant Italian family where showing affection is a part of the culture.

MEETING MR. RIGHT
Then came the day that I started University. The very first day of orientation, I met my now husband, Ayaz. He was smart and good-looking, but I wasn’t looking for anything and neither was he. He grew up in a totally different type of family life and in an extremely different culture. Within days, there was no fighting the chemistry and love that was already growing between us.

 MARRIAGE
After a six-year relationship, our two worlds collided when we got married. Our families tried hard, but the differences in us were overwhelming. The first year of our marriage was very difficult. I was a Canadian, living in a country (United States) where I could not work and knew no one.  He was a resident at a nearby hospital but I rarely saw him; he was always on call. After his one-year obligation at the hospital, we moved to Owosso (Michigan) for a job opportunity. Our original plan was to work a few years and move back to Ontario to be with our families. 

OUR FAMILY BEGINS
Shortly after moving to Owosso, I discovered that I was pregnant. Ayaz worked hard and my pregnancy progressed beautifully. At the end of my eighth month, I asked for an ultrasound. My doctor didn’t think that it was necessary because everything was going great. He agreed to the ultrasound and found something wrong with the baby’s stomach area. He then referred me to a neonatologist in Lansing. Within a few weeks, I had a high-level ultrasound and the doctor asked everyone to leave the room. He looked at us and said, “There is no compatibility with life, you are this child’s life support system, without you it will die.” Reality slapped me in the face.  I was still pregnant and standing over gravesites to choose his, while he was still moving and kicking inside of me.

Our son, Adam, was born August 1, 1996. He only lived 1 hour and 10 minutes. We had to plan his funeral while breast milk leaked from me. Our funeral director warned us to be there for each other. He told us that 95% of marriages end with the death of a child.

The next few years were filled with much despair and also joy of new births. We had Joseph one year later and Sarah one and a half years after that. Sarah was quickly diagnosed with severe autism. Once again, the experts warned us that 80% of marriages end when there are children with special needs. Since then, we had Noah, suffered two miscarriages, Aaron, another miscarriage and finally Jacob. Jacob was also diagnosed with autism, milder on the spectrum than Sarah. It was at that time that we decided to become American citizens — I could never leave Adam behind.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
What did I learn from all of this? Life is not easy. It is very easy to let the chaos take control of you. I have a firm belief in God and that is where I draw my comfort. The other thing is that I have an amazing husband. None of this has been easy for him either. When I was weak, he was my strength. When he is weak, I am his. We love each other and although stress can constantly test us, at the end of the day we have each other and five of the most amazing children in the world.

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Laura, what a beautiful story of love, family and strength.

    Reply

  2. What a wonderful story Laura!

    Reply

  3. I am in tears! You are a wonderful inspiration to all women and mom’s. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply

  4. Even though I know your story already I am in tears.

    Reply

  5. You might enjoy Angie Smith’s blog. http://angiesmithonline.com/audreys-story/about-audrey/
    She was keynote speaker at Women of Faith and wrote the book “I Will Carry You.”

    Great post, Laura!

    Reply

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your life.

    Reply

  7. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of being grateful for every blessing we are given. I will give my husband and children an extra hug tonight for sure. You are a gifted writer.

    Reply

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