In early November 2012, we had received some startling news that Aziza was showing an elevation of a tumor marker and we were all worried that she was having a recurrance of her tumor but in a malignant form. I was asked to wait weeks before bringing her back in for a retest as this would give a better picture as to whether the level was increasing and at what rate. Having experienced Christmas 2011 with Aziza in the hospital, I wanted to ensure that we had Christmas preparations well underway in the event that Aziza would be facing another hospitalization should the tumor marker come back with a continued elevation.
I busied myself during those weeks of waiting with Christmas shopping for the kids, and enjoyed every moment of it. We put up our Christmas tree very early in mid November. Many prayers were said around the world that Aziza would not be diagnosed with a malignancy and many friends chose to also decorate early in solidarity with Aziza.
Aziza's friend, Anthony, who also has Down Syndrome wrote us the following note when they sent us the photo below on November 15th - "For Our Sweet Aziza, here's wishing happiness and LOADS OF HEALTHY wishes. Love your future fiance, Anthony. " A heartfelt note that meant so much. We too shared those same wishes.
On December the 1st, just 2 days before Aziza first showed symptoms of being unwell, we started a new holiday tradition and welcomed an Elf on the Shelf into our home. You can read the blog entry about this here. It was such a wonderful day and the kids were so happy and excited. We enjoyed reading about the Elf, naming her and opened small gifts and Advent calendars. We spoiled ourselves with a very non-nutritious "North Pole Dinner" and watched a Christmas movie. Aziza was still abe to fit well into the Christmas pyjamas that she had worn 2 years prior in 2010. Such a tiny peanut in a size 24 month sleeper.We had at this point received the news that Aziza's tumor marker was no longer elevated and we were celebrating. Celebrating the life of a little Warrior Princess who once again came out on top of what could have been a very serious diagnosis. Our little miracle girl.
As you all know, just days later our lives would come to an unimaginable standstill when Aziza fell critically ill and died on December the 5th. Looking back on these photos, taken on December the 1st, I wrack my brain to try and understand. But I cannot. I cannot understand how a child can go from being so full of life to undergoing emergency surgery just 3 days later, and dying the following day. I search her face in these photos for clues ... was she unwell? Did I miss something?? Is it possible that the happiest chid on Earth was fighting something even on this day, but that her happy-go-lucky spirit concealed it? I could ask these questions forever and never come up with an answer. Christmas 2012 - the deepest hurt we have ever experienced.