The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's






Glorious Rejoice Dots Glitter





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Final Essay Of My Book

I began writing this blog as a practice in deciphering the stages of grief. Because that is what we feel we are experiencing. Don and I are gradually becoming more and more aware that who I was, is slowly drifting out to sea. Who we were, is passing us by like a movie in slow motion. Images of the day we met. Our first kiss. The birth of our children. All a magical phase of innocence. Fading. Into the distance. 
But in searching for "the stages of grief", I came upon the "stages of birth". Which made me wonder if what I am experiencing could perhaps be something new, rather than the death of what once was. 
The labor phase is done. First there is "lightening". This is when the baby drops. A sudden change in the normalcy of a pregnancy. When God decides it is time for something new. 
"The Bloody Show". A sign that life is about to change. When the protection of the womb is irradicated and anything is possible. Even infection. Perhaps a fear sets in. 
"Ruptured membranes". When others are now aware that you are turning inside out. When friends stand frozen wanting to support, but waiting for you to tell them what you need. 
"Contractions". The pain. The blinding, excruciating pain you cannot describe to anyone who has never had a child. It is a blending of worlds you've lived and the one you are about to lead. 
There are three stages to labor. 
The first, the latent phase, is the longest and least intense. During this phase, contractions become more frequent, helping the new life begin its journey to the light. 
During the active phase,  you experience a pressure in your back or abdomen during each contraction. But you are not ready yet for what is to come. Tears stream down your cheeks in silent anticipation of what will be. 
Then transition strikes. A wave of unfathomable agony when you suddenly know too much - that life can change in an instant from joy to paralyzing fear. 
But just when it seems too difficult to go on, others tell you that you must push through. Push as though your life depends on it. Because it does. If you don't you will die. And the life inside that is aching to get out will die too. And everything you ever dreamed your life could ever be, will be gone. 
So you push. And at the end is a life. Not a death. Even though you may have grieved the ending of what was. Even if you cried excruciating tears along the way. It is still a life to hold inside your hands to show off to the world and proclaim it as your own. 
I am holding this life in my hands. Because it is the end of my book. My arms weakened by their gradual collapse, I sense a closure to what was. I did not write this book with an ending in mind. I sensed the time would come and I would know the time to push. And something would be born. 
I roll over to my husband.  Breathing in his scent. Our life before my eyes. Our first site. The first kiss. The first time he held my hand and did not let go. I see him crawling on the sand with my children on his back. The first time he laid his heart on mine. I see him kneeling as he proposed the life we were to lead. And he did. He led our life to something so beautiful and profound it is something only God can see. And after all that we have done. The family we have made. Yes, our life has had to change. We still make time to grieve. 
 I will bare into the challenge. Birth is never clean. But without the challenge of the birth, new life would never be. Without change there is no growth, the purpose of living would be lost. So I have shared my challenge with you, so you might know you are not alone in pain. 
There is no easy way to tidy up a birth. But when you finally get to look into the eyes of a life you will now have to lead, you just might see a bit of God staring back at you. 
I say goodbye to who I was. It is time to tend to who I will become. And now I say good night. And for the first time I see myself. And I believe. 

Micaela Bensko


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