3 YEARS LATER

July 11, 2011. It’s crazy how just the sound of something can make you sick.
It’s more than a month, a day, a year, more than letters and numbers combined to pin point a place in time.
It’s crushing and loss.
It’s confusion and hopeless.
It’s anger and desperation.
It’s the stealing of life.
I grit my teeth and tighten my stomach and hold my breath. I don’t like things out of my control. No one likes to be stolen from. One single moment has gutted my world, my hopes of a long life with a young love. My hopes… to live on a laugh, shaking out butterflies and catching my breath when he says my name.
Bittersweet hopes. Bittersweet memories.
Sweet because they are with him and they are mine.
Bitter because they are fractured and fleeting.
For every good memory I have 100 nightmares.
Time is different now. I am different now. I no longer recognize the girl I was the last time I heard his voice. In a way I’m glad to be rid of her, she wouldn’t have made it in this. I can still feel her, like I feel him. They’re together. Somewhere they are together in those 7 months, living in a space between for better or worse vows and life and death choices. There’s no July 11th where they are, just endless time to be with the other. They’re making new memories for us.
I feel dazed this time around. As the years rack up, dust settles and the truth hits. And it hits hard. And fast. And the bruises last forever. Faithful reminders of the time spent treading thick air. Head up, chest out, deep breath. Just. Keep. Going.
No matter the progress, and there is progress. Incredible progress however, Matt has a severe brain injury and we live with that everyday. Every second. It never lets up. It is a constant hand around my throat.
New normal. Regular normal. Normal, whatever that means. We don’t have a normal. We will never have a new normal because he is always changing.
Last year he could not take steps without assistance, this yearhe is taking 2-5 steps completely unassisted! No gait belt, no walker, no crutches, nothing! That’s walking!
Last year we celebrated with our Atlanta family. We had a So Glad You’re Alive Party. This year we’re back in Savannah and we miss our friends!
Last year Matt needed assistance getting in and out of the shower, this year he gets in and showers, gets out and gets dressed completely unassisted! We just make sure someone is downstairs in the apartment; just in case he does fall they can hear it and react appropriately.
This year we have a van! Matt can put the wheelchair in and out of the van on his own! No more leg bruises and back breaks for me!
This yearI have a job! I’m working at Savannah Christian Church as a ministry assistant. I love what I do and I love the people I do it with.
This year we’re focusing more on me. My family, my friends, everyone has put him first for so long. It’s draining and I have to think of myself. I feel serious guilt about this. I don’t deserve guilt. I know that. It creeps in like a constant hand around my throat. I want everything for him. I want his life to be spectacular but I can’t give him that. God gives spectacular. I’m seeking God to fill my life. I’m seeking God to fill Matt’s life. So is Matt.
Matt’s faith has grown exponentially. This year he decided he would like to work in ministry. It’s refreshing to see him yearn for an attainable goal. Something I can feel he wants because he feels a call to it. Not for any macho man reason. For the longest time you couldn’t convince him that the Air Force will not take him with a severe brain injury (also the whole wheelchair thing), he was convinced that’s what he wanted to do.
This year Matt volunteers on his own at our church during services and during the week. He gets dropped off and does his job and goes around the building without any worry from me! That’s big! I’m getting brave!
Matt rode his first roller coaster this year at Disney World! I can’t even come up with something good enough to say here about our trip to Disney. It was awesome! Just perfect.
Matt’s mother passed away this year. He suffered an enormous loss that only magnified the damage to his brain. He misses his mother but he doesn’t remember to grieve her absence. I go back and forth between wanting to bring it up so he will feel it, to being grateful he can’t truly feel this pain.
This yearI don’t want to strive for normal or even a new normal. This year I want us to accept weird. Quirky. A little off.
How could we be anything but strange after 3 years of this?
God is not writing a new version of a normal story.
He’s got something entirely different in store for us.
No matter the course he sets for us here we will prevail.
We will rejoice in the promise of eternity, the place where she and him are together.
Until those pieces of our souls are joined again we will continue to love each other as best as we can.