I will never get used to how one moment can completely transform your entire life.

One word, one act, one look, one step. In the next second, nothing is as it was.

Nearly a year ago, my husband and I took a long weekend to get away. Our youngest had just undergone his second open-heart surgery. One of our parents had just had major surgery too. And we were preparing for Elli’s fifth open-heart surgery in a matter of months.

We drove our new-to-us van about 5 hours away to have a rear-entry ramp installed for our daughter’s wheelchair. Then we took 2 days to return home, spending those nights in a couple different bed-and-breakfasts.

I had nearly forgotten that crisp frosty morning when we walked together around a freshly-harvested field of corn. We talked about Elli and how to best use the time we had been given by way of two helpers every day.

We talked about the time this had given me to actually be Mom and not Nurse. What should I do with that? How could we use the time to deepen our relationship with Elli and spend quality time with the other kids?

I was excited at the prospect, but still very overwhelmed at the same time. I was trying not to, once again, set the standard too high (which is my tendency), and set myself up for failure.

Then, just seven days later, we walked into Elli’s room on a bright fall morning to find her body still, lifeless, empty.

In the blink of an eye, our lives were completely transformed. This was even more wrenching than the day we first learned that her heart was deformed.

This past weekend, once again, Scott and I took a couple of days to be alone together. We walked through the woods and talked. The weather was fall-like, and in the chill morning air, the memory of last year’s conversation wafted back to me.

The lost weekend.

The weekend before everything changed.