This time ten years ago, if asked the question “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” my answer would have been very different from where I actually am now.
Ten years ago — February 1, 2006 — was the day Husband left for work happy, same as any other Wednesday, and by that night was on life support in the critical care unit of our nearest hospital.
“You need to prepare yourself that he might not make it through the night.”
That’s what the attending ER doctor told me. I explained to him how Husband was just 37 years old, and that we had two little boys and a four-week-old daughter at home, thinking that, certainly, would change his prognosis.
It didn’t. He was the sickest person in the hospital. But under the care of exceptional doctors and nurses, he did make it through the night. And after a month in critical care, a month in two other hospitals and amputation of both feet, he came home to us. (Read more here and here.)
Recently, I vowed to stop writing about this. I don’t want to be That Girl Who Always Writes About Drama From So Many Years Ago (subtitlte: Get Over It Already). But I realize that’s impossible, because it was such a terrifying and significant experience that I can never fully let it go. It changed me. And our family. Forever.
On one of the nights I when was taking a break from Husband’s bedside vigil, I drove to a nearby coffee house and ordered a large coffee, steaming hot and full to the brim. And as I sat there alone, at an outside table (I think it was Valentine’s Day), watching the cream swirl with the coffee as I stirred it, I got this strange sensation of wanting to dive to the bottom of the cup and never come up. The amount of healing Husband had to do was overwhelming. It seemed impossible that he would return to us.
But incredibly, he did. And after another year of getting used to our new normal, we got back on track.
We have such a long list of people to thank for allowing this to happen, but can be summarized in this way: the tireless doctors, nurses and hospital staff (and especially the paramedics who got him to the hospital in the first place) healed Husband’s body. While our community healed our fragile souls. Our friends, family, and even strangers rallied around us and built us a support network (in the form of meals, kidwatch, prayers). Simply put, they refused to let any of us fall. As the medical staff worked their magic and allowed for Husband’s return home, our friends and family were making sure that the family he would return home to was vibrant and thriving.
I don’t often say this to those friends and family, but not a week goes by when I don’t think about what you did for us during that time. I truly don’t think we could have survived without you all. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful. I live every day knowing that I can never fully repay you for all you did for us.
Unbelievably, here we are today, ten years further down the road. Ten years during which we have celebrated all that parents hope to when their children morph from a newborn, a six year old and a nine year old into kids who are now 10, 16 and 19. A father was given the chance to participate in his children’s childhoods.
A few years back, I decided not to be terrified of February 1st any more. At least that’s what I tell myself. Truth is, I’m always relieved to wake up on February 2 with Husband by my side.
Today is February 1, 2016. Today we celebrate. Today we give thanks.
Today, and every day.
“I look at the Augusteum, and I think that perhaps my life has not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated.” — From Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert