The shock is gone. The fear has subsided. The questions have been answered. What's next is staring us smack dab in the face.
In two weeks, my youngest will have to wear a brace to keep her spine from bending so severe that her quality of life would have come into question.
That fear has been brushed away like errant salt on a dinner table. Thought, admittedly, a few grains still remain. They will linger there for four, six or eight years until they are brushed away for good.
What my wife and I are sure of, is that Whip will be ok. We know this in our heart. We have read the stories. We have talked to people who have gone through this. We have watched videos of young girls dealing with scoliosis and seem to just a-ok about it.
We are also sure that we have a lot of concerned people in our lives that care about Whip, that care about our family and have offered to do whatever they can to ease our minds.
Just like I wrote about when we first got the diagnosis, there's nothing they can do. No words of encouragement can help us deal with what we're about to go through. More importantly, no words of encouragement can help Whip go through her journey.
This will be a long and arduous road for her. There will be challenging days. There will be days where she doesn't want to wear the brace. There will be days that she'll feel awkward. There are days where she might get teased.
Then there are days where she will be ok with it. There are days where she won't think about it.
Then there will be days where she doesn't know she has the brace on. There will be days that she feels strange without it on.
Then there will be a day where she doesn't need to wear it any more.
On that day, we will reflect on our journey. We will reflect on the words of encouragement that our friends and family littered us with. We will reflect on that summer day in 2016 when the doctor subtly uttered the words "idiopathic scoliosis" and "brace."
Then we will look forward. We will look forward to her teenage years, growing into the smart, witty, tough, loving and inquisitive young lady she is and I know she'll continue to be.
All throughout that journey, she will always be my daughter. She will always be my little fighter. She will always be my Whip.
Bent, not broken.