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Frog & Bandit Forever

 So Matt and I had a Halloween party. Many of you have seen the pictures and wondered what the heck we were supposed to be. Yes, Matt’s mustache was impressive and sure the wedding dress I had on was maybe a little funny…but not a lot of people ‘got’ our costume. This did not matter to me…not one bit. You see – Matt wanted to dress up. Matt wanted to have a Halloween party.  You may not know, but Frog and Bandit are the clever (if a bit dirty) CB handles from Matt’s beloved movie, ‘Smokey & the Bandit’. Matt has loved the movie longer than I’ve loved Matt. He knows all the silly details, all the editing faux pas, all the songs, and a lot of the dialogue. The move is purely Matt – through and through. And once we decided to be Frog and Bandit…the wheels in his mind started spinning. Talking about how the costumes would come together was so much fun. 
We shopped online, we shopped thrift stores, and we bought pieces on eBay. Matt cared so much about all the details; his cowboy hat couldn’t be just any hat. It had to be felt. His shirt had to be red. He had to wear cowboy boots. And me? Well, he wanted me in a wedding dress. Never mind the fact that Frog spends the majority of the movie in a blue shirt with (awesome) bellbottoms…when she first comes on the scene, she’s in a wedding dress and he thought it would be so funny if I was in a dress. The hunt was on – and can you believe I actually found a 1970’s wedding dress and veil on eBay? Can you believe it was in perfect condition? Can you believe it fit me as though it were made for me?? Length and all. Almost as though…it were meant to be. We found Matt some awesome boots and ordered a replica BAN ONE Georgia license plate for the back of his chair. As the pieces came together, I could see how ticked he was. And oh, how my heart swelled. I was willing to spend any amount of money on these silly costumes. I was willing to do whatever he wanted to do to make the characters come alive in his eyes. And in the end, I loved…LOVED our costumes. While most of our friends and family did not quite get it at first…each time we would smile at each other and shrug it off. We knew. It was our inside costume. It was Matt…being Matt…only in a way I couldn’t have expected. I was so proud of him.

A week after our party we donned our costumes again for Halloween Karaoke (yes, he kept the mustache for a WEEK!). The bar we went to had a contest for best song/costume combination…and I knew I had to sing East Bound and Down – the theme song from the movie. He agreed to sit with me and let me sing the song, in front of a crowded bar of costume-clad strangers and a few of our closest friends. Again – I swelled with pride. We had a blast – despite the terrible karaoke. I was singing this ridiculously cheesy song (about trucking…with beer) to my husband, my Bandit…and I loved it.
A little while later though, I could see he was a little down. He was quiet and a little standoffish. I wasn’t sure why – we were laughing and having so much fun with our friends. He shrugged it off, but later confessed. He was a little sad. A woman had sung Cracklin’ Rosie (another of his favorite songs) and he started feeling sad that he couldn’t get up there and sing along. I was floored. When would he EVER have wanted to sing karaoke!?!? NEVER EVER.
But Matt is different now. He is a different person in a lot of ways, after his stroke. And he told me – that now – he just may have gotten up there to sing. He certainly felt like he would have, if he could have. I was a little taken aback. I couldn’t really fathom him in his former life up there singing his heart out to his favorite songs…but Matt is a different person today.
I was talking to my friend Emily about this today – discussing how I hadn’t really thought of it like that before. She said something that hit me like a ton of bricks…if Matt experienced a miracle healing…imagine who he would be. Tears fill my eyes even thinking of it now. The testimony he would have. The stories he would tell. The adventures he would have without a second thought of fear, or insecurity, or self-consciousness. Surely Matt is a different man than he was before his stroke – in so many wonderful and powerful and moving ways. Can you imagine a miracle healing for him?  To stand back and let him live life to the very fullest, in ways we wouldn’t dream of as regular able-bodied people? I simply wouldn’t be able to contain myself and the joy that would overflow.  But in the meantime, I am happy to come home to my Bandit every night. To his outstretched arms, his sparkling eyes, his adorable crooked smile, and his warm lap. 

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