Today brings a mix of emotions as I’m sure it does for many of you. Personally, on a day where so many lives were changed in an instant, I am brought back in time to September 11, 2001 and brought back to August 16, 2005.
Certainly not minimizing the tragedy of September 11 and the thousands of lives lost and changed, but I am reminded of how our own lives changed so suddenly. I give honor to their memory and I empathize with those that lost for I too lost.
September 11, 2001 was going to be a special day for me as I was scheduled to pose for my bridal portrait. Perhaps you can see how I tie this day in with our marriage, the start of our life together and how that led to the sharp end of one life and the very different beginning of another. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and tell that young couple to soak up every moment together, to make each day special and to always cling tightly to each other for life was going to change for them. There would one day be loss and it would come much sooner than they would expect. It wouldn’t be in old age with a gradual decline in health; it would be in the midst of a beautiful change, the pending birth of their first child, that tragedy would strike. Life pays no mind to right timing.
As many wives lost their husbands that day, I too lost mine over three years ago. I’m not sure you understand or can comprehend the abrupt change in Danny. You may say or think that Danny lives; how can I ever feel anything other than joy? The truth is that I mourn many things because of the events of August 16Th; I miss my husband that never took no for an answer, who self taught himself the art of everything, who was good at all things and who was determined to succeed and provide. I miss the man that I had to touch while we slept, the man who stood just tall enough that I could stand underneath his chin while we embraced, the man who was proudly showing off 3D ultrasound pictures of Corbin and the man that never got to see his son born or knowingly hold him to his chest and smell that sweet newborn baby. I mourn the loss of the father Danny expected to be for Corbin and I mourn for Corbin because of his loss. Although Corbin knows no different, I do and Danny does. I miss the life we had and the life I envisioned with the birth of Corbin. Those dreams were shattered, as Danny was, by a red Chevy Astro van and the man that made a bad choice.
The qualities that attracted me to Danny in 1999, well, actually I was attracted to him as a friend much earlier than that, but I digress. Those qualities do appear in post-accident Danny, but not like they did before. After the accident, I heard that the toughest part of a brain injury and the affect on relationships, was a change in personality. I didn’t see it for a long time and I remember being excited when I saw Danny move with the same mannerisms. It gave me hope that Danny hadn’t changed. But, what is unfair to Danny, is that I expected him to remain the same, yet I didn’t. No one that has been touched by this accident is the same. Our families are certainly not the same because they too mourn the loss of their son, brother, nephew and uncle and the dreams they had for him. Our friends have changed too, which we were told to expect. Friends and family have each had to deal with this tragedy on their own; some have done better than others.
So, I had expectations that as before, Danny would dive into this unfair altercation and face it head on, knocking his recovery out of the park like he did everything else in his life. How unfair of me; and I still struggle with it more than anything. And, the question looming in the back of my mind is will he ever be who he was before, only better from overcoming such adversity? Yet, worry does no good; it does not add to our lives and it does not change outcomes. I have to continue to give that one back to the Lord and trust Him with Danny. It’s hard, though. My prayer is that the Lord will awaken the dead areas of Danny’s brain for literally, all hope lies there. I fervently pray that Danny will return to us wholly restored. A bone that is broken and then set heals stronger than it was before and that is what I want for Danny; for him to be a better man than before, a better husband, father, son, brother, and friend. It’s a hard thing to imagine a better Danny; he was so great before.
So, on this day of honoring those that were lost on this day seven years ago, I honor my husband who was lost and still feels lost from himself and from the life he knew. Bear with me for a few lines.
Danny, this is the first time, I write directly to you on this blog. I know you are probably struggling to read this, holding a piece of mail under each line to make it through or you’ll ask me to read it to you. I don’t tell you enough how proud I am of you. I have set unrealistic expectations of you to be all that I need you to be for me and for Corbin and have not given you time to deal with this yourself. For that, I apologize. I know right now, you’re saying that I have nothing to apologize for, but I know I do. I know that as you told me before your accident, you’d rather be dead that stuck in that wheelchair. And, yet, you still choose to keep going. Although recovery is slow, although you feel like you’re going mad, although you can’t remember the simplest things sometimes and you feel stupid, you keep going. You do have a choice and I applaud you for choosing to press on towards your goal, our goal. There is courage there, there is determination, there is the man that never says no. I can see that man when you force your legs to step, when you adjust your weight to stay upright and I can even see that man when you ask me about the future, wondering just where this will end. I see you worry about providing for your family, I see a man who doesn’t want this to beat him down, who is determined to get back on the horse, the steel horse that is. I see in you a father that is torn between two worlds, but that keeps trying to be the right kind of father. For all these things, I admire you and I love you. I do not know where I’d be now if you were not a part of my life; no, correction, you are my life. You are my breath, my heartbeat, my mind, my hands, my feet, my hope, my future; all these things lie in you. So, know this, you are not alone because I sit with you in that wheelchair of a prison, I fight with you for each step, I fight with you to take your life back and I fight with you to overcome the deficits in your mind. In a word, as we bring honor to the Lord with our lives, I honor you and I am honored to be your wife. It is a difficulty I could not face without you and as I said to you on Thanksgiving Day 2001, when you would hardly whisper a word, you keep knocking from your side and I’ll keep knocking from mine. We’ll eventually meet in the middle. Thanks for continuing to knock.
I apologize for those of you reading this; perhaps you feel it inappropriate that I address Danny directly, but really, it’s long overdue. This way, too, whenever he doubts in himself, or doubts in me, he can go back and read the words and hopefully, find a bit of reassurance.
Today, I merely wanted to bring honor to the lost and honor to the living, but ultimately honor to the Lord. It is only through Him that we have another day to do battle for the greater good. He is truly able to take what Satan meant for evil and make it something beautiful. One day, Danny and I will look back and see the roads we’ve traveled and what a beautiful painting it will be.
Thank you, Lord, for giving me enough hope to get through each day, for giving me the opportunity to cling to you for all provision, for showing me the true meaning of I Am that I Am. I look forward to seeing you reveal yourself more and more through this journey and I am humbled to be given a story so great and the strength to live it to the end.
To God be the glory forever and ever, Amen.