One week ago, I got the call no father wants to get. I was in the middle of a training session and my wife's (Stephanie) doctor was on the phone. Stephanie was going in for her normal check up to see how our baby was doing. She was 35 weeks pregnant and the excitement of a new child entering this world was dynamic. We were so close, 18 days to the due date to be exact. The doctor's subdued and serious voice made it clear that something was wrong. Honestly, I am not sure the exact words he said. I just remember, "lost heart rate and died". I guess you can say that I went into somewhat of a shock. I quickly left work and drove to the doctor's office. Many thoughts were running in my head, "What happened?" "Why?" "Is this for sure?" "Did I hear the Dr. correctly?" But the biggest thought was, "How is Stephanie?" She was devastated. I was devastated. We lost our child. We sat in the office crying and holding each other as we tried to contemplate everything that just happened.
We still had to give birth and the Dr. advised a "normal" labor and that we do it that afternoon. But nothing would be normal about this labor. During the 22 hour hospital stay, there were pockets of time where it felt as if it was a normal labor but that thought would quickly go away knowing we would not be taking home a beautiful child. As the time grew closer to give birth, our sadness grew deeper and deeper. By the way Stephanie was unbelievable and showed major courage and strength during this very tough experience.
On Wednesday morning at 9:45 am we gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We nicknamed her Inspire. We held her, we cried, we smiled, we were sad, we were humbled. Life is so fragile. And we only get one. Unfortunately Inspire was unable to live in this life. But we can live with Inspire in all of us. Her beauty was like an angel. Her eyes closed were peaceful. She was amazing.
Instead of asking questions of why, or what if, or when was the last time we heard the baby move or could we have done this or that, let's start the journey of moving forward. Let's live for our Little Levine. Let's be a little better in our day to day lives. Let's INSPIRE others to be positive, to be healthy, to live life at a high level. Let's get rid of gossip, negative thinking and poor judgement. Life is too short to nit pick and be negative. Let's come together as a community and strengthen our relationships and our friendships. Inspire will always be with us, maybe not in flesh, but in spirit. And the human spirit is one of the strongest forms of man kind. So use her optimism, use her inner beauty, use her inspiration to get you through a tough time, maybe on your next run or bike ride or your next triathlon or workout, because she will give you determination, she will give you peace and she will give you the strength to move forward.
This tragic ordeal has really given me a chance to really think about Life and what it means. The thoughts are running in my head and I am trying to manage the ups and downs my emotions bring. But one thing that I do know is that Life is Awesome! And it must be lived with faith and vision. Faith is believing in something without any proof. It's having complete trust that there is a plan. And this plan can be amazing if you decide to live your life with optimism and in a humble and unselfish way. Bad things do happen. And I am not going to sit here and keep asking why these things happen. But when these tragic things happen, it fuels my fire to live even harder, and better, with more motivation, and to INSPIRE more people. Living with vision runs parallel with living with faith. We can not live based on our circumstances. Our vision will continue to move us onward and know there are better days ahead. And this vision will create resilience so we can get back up after we have fallen.
As we move forward through our daily lives, I ask a big question, "How will you live today?" Will you wake up with negative thoughts, blaming other people for a misfortune and walk around with your head down? Or will you decide to live to inspire others and create positive thoughts? Will you give back to your community? Will you live a healthy life? Will you take responsibility for the things you want and the goals you want to achieve? I encourage you to be a little better than you were yesterday, to not accept average in your life, to hold your head high and believe in your abilities. I encourage you to support others and inspire other people to live at high levels. I encourage you to wake up EVERYDAY (even the tough days) and LIVE HARD! Take it head on.
If you had made it this far so far, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Do me a favor today, go out and "INSPIRE" someone. And then do it again tomorrow and the next day. Continue this process for 20 days in a row. Be aware of that feeling it will give you. You will be empowered and motivated each day because you are out there helping others reach their success. If you reach a tough day, or an obstacle that stops you head on, be resilient to keep going. Find that determination we all have inside of us and push forward.
I leave you with a quote that was printed on a memory card for our little INSPIRE...
"Obstacles will come and resilience is needed. And when we get back up after we have fallen, strength will be gained. We must have faith and vision knowing that God has a master plan for all of us."
RIP INSPIRE LEVINE...