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Over the Rainbow

I’m sure most of you have heard Israel Kamakawiwo Ole’s version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. It is a beautiful rendition, which I remember hearing for the first time when Dr. Mark Green was dying on some beautiful island with his family, on the show ‘ER’. Matt teased me more than a little about how sad I was…but the song was so beautiful it really just tugged at my heartstrings for this silly television character I had known for so many years.

The other day as I was getting ready for work, Matt told me he had a surprise for me. He had found the song online and played it through the computer speakers for me, knowing how much I loved the song, and also how excited we are for our upcoming trip to Hawaii. I smiled and closed my eyes as I let the words and simple strumming of the ukulele float around us in the early morning quiet of the house.

The beauty of the song, it touches me every time I hear it. As we’re planning our big trip and excitedly making plans for activities while there, I just can’t help but think back on the past few years and marvel at how far we’ve come. There was a time when we thought our chances of planning a Hawaiian vacation were dead. There was a time when we didn’t know if Matt would be able to do the tiniest of tasks, let alone journey across the ocean to paradise. And now, we sit here planning this trip and my heart is so full. I can’t believe it’s real. I can’t believe we’ve come this far and are finally going to be able to see one of our dreams come true.

Matt is embracing the opportunity whole heartedly and oh, the pride I feel at his enthusiasm. I want to hug him all the time. I want to throw my arms around him and gush about how amazing I think he is. Of course there are still going to be some insecurities and fears about trying new things and trusting others to help…but Matt has all but tossed these fears aside. His focus is so steady on the fun he’s BOUND to have, the experiences he’s going to have…his fears about logistics have faded to the background. We both know that this trip will be different than the Hawaii trip we envisioned in our youth. But, oh, it will be so much more meaningful to us now.

I can’t imagine what it will be like to look out on the beautiful ocean and then glance at my husband - at my side. Joy. That’s all I can imagine. I feel such joy over the very idea…I know I will be overflowing with emotion when we are there. The day we meet on the beach together to renew our wedding vows – to look at each other…at those familiar eyes which have shared so much together…to hold the hands which have held on to each other through all things…to speak those vows once again to each other knowing all that we’ve learned, remembering all that we’ve endured, and celebrating the victory in the simple fact that we remain…it will be amazing for sure.

I think of Matt and all that he’s going to experience on this trip…and I’m so very grateful. Grateful that his heart has been opened, his trust strengthened, his will increasingly determined…he simply won’t let his limitations stop him. Six years ago, I didn’t know this about him. I’m not sure he knew it of himself. While we still don’t understand why our life’s journey went down this path – we continue to be blessed. I look at this trip as a time to celebrate life…both Julie’s cancer free victory and Matt’s post-stroke victory. While we won’t be running along the beach in slow motion together…we will be laughing, swimming, lounging, and exploring together. And I have no doubt that our love, our commitment to each other, will never be stronger.

It is no small coincidence to me that I love this song so much…not only for the simple beauty, but for the small section of ‘What a Wonderful World’ mixed in. Matt and I danced to Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ on our wedding day. It seemed the perfect song to start our life together…

So listen to the words, and think of Matt and I, hand in hand on a beach...Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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