So September rolled around again…that sneaky month I love and used to dread all at the same time. It signifies so much – the changing seasons, the coming fall (FULL of things we love), Matt’s birthday, and of course the anniversary of when everything changed for us. September 14th. Each year, as I reflect on the date, I never know quite how I’m going to feel. Some years it’s easy, some years, not so much. But every year I definitely find myself pausing a bit and reflecting on things.
This year, September 14th came and nearly went without us even being aware. We had started September with so many good things. We’d spent Labor Day weekend relaxing with my parents in Oklahoma – kicking off our first Football Saturday at their place (complete with chex mix and victories for both IA and ISU!). We’d had our goddaughter overnight – loving up on a very special toddler always fills our heart with joy. We’d
celebrated Matt’s birthday with family and looked forward to many more fun weekends ahead. But of course, there was the sudden and tragic loss of my friend Terry – and along with that came a strange mish mash of emotions. I was so sad about Terry and yet I realized that seven years had passed since Matt’s stroke…SEVEN YEARS…and we were still here, going strong.
I struggled a little - having so much to celebrate, and at the same time, mourning the loss of someone who meant so much to me. I think about Terry’s family and the grief they feel…and can’t help but be reminded of our own grief we felt not knowing how things would work out for Matt. I have very real memories…not knowing if Matt was going to survive. And then not knowing what kind of quality of life he would have if he did. I couldn’t fathom the changes in our relationship and where it would go…I just clung to the hope that somehow, someway, we’d be ok…as long as we had each other. And here we are, seven years later…together. Because, where else would we be? Where else could we be? I’ve said it probably a hundred times or more on this blog…but I absolutely know it to be true. I was meant to be Matt’s wife and he was meant to be my husband. We were meant to go through this difficult situation together and we were meant to come out the other side changed for the better. We are not perfect – not by a long shot. We are learning all the time, how to cope with the realities, disappointments, challenges and victories in our situation. We get mad. We get frustrated. We grumble and pound our fists. But then, eventually, we remember and recognize what we do have - and at the top of the list – each other.
I know that there are parts of us that will always wish for physical changes and healing. We will always hope for a miracle – and that’s ok. We’re not wasting what we have…we’re not forgetting the healing that has happened. When Matt had his stroke he had just turned 30. I was still 29. We had celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary that summer…but we’d been together for nearly 13 years. And now…Matt is 37 and I’m not far behind him…we celebrated our 14th anniversary this summer and are closing in on 20 years together. More than half our lives – we’ve been tangled up together. And I realized something huge…we’ve been married longer after his stroke than we were before. Incredible. Our ‘new’ normal isn’t so new anymore. Time keeps ticking by, and life is changing all the time, but still we are here together – making our way through the good stuff and the bad stuff. It’s not been easy – but it’s been worth it. When I look back on our marriage – I’m grateful, proud, and humbled at the same time. I’m so humbled that God picked me to be Matt’s wife – that He somehow knew we’d be able to get through the storm together. I’m so humbled that He thought me strong enough to handle all I’ve had to handle…and that He gave Matt strength when I had none. I can so clearly see, looking back over the years how one of us has always carried the load when the other couldn’t muster the strength. And I’m so very, very grateful.
The future is wide open for Matt and I…in another seven years who KNOWS what will come our way?! What challenges we’ll face…what victories we’ll win…what our life will look like in (gulp) our 40’s. My hope is that it will be wonderful and full of memories of times spent with family and friends and travel and fun, fun, fun.