This blog entry is long overdue. I have been wanting/needing to write for the last 8 months, but I guess I didn’t feel ready or maybe I just had too much going on, too much to think about. But here I am finally ready to share more than I already have. This blog will reach beyond my cheerful status updates but won’t be as developed as the book Harrison and I will write one day, Lord willing! I guess I should get some of you up to speed with what’s happened in the last 8 months-a brief overview if there is any such thing. I will do my best.
August 14th of last year was a special day. Harrison and I were visiting New York state for our good friends’ wedding. Zach and Alaina were our “couple friends,” and we were excited to finally be in a wedding together (other than our own). The morning after getting to NY, we went to Niagara Falls before we rushed back to Jamestown for the wedding rehearsal and dinner that followed soon after at Alaina’s house. We were just beaming with excitement for our friends. I, along with the other bridesmaids, went up to the house to get our gifts leaving Harrison with his camera (we were documenting the weekend with our new equipment) and the guys. I didn’t know that would be the last time I saw my Harry the way I had always known…that life as we knew it was about to be gone forever. My very thoughtful, sensitive and not at all risk-taking husband got in a terrible ATV accident that left him unconscious upon my arrival at the scene. Emergency responders deemed it a very serious head injury and Harrison went into respiratory failure as he was life-flighted to the trauma center in Erie, PA. The surgeon there said he would take out a portion of Harrison’s skull but implied that I should brace myself for the worst. I thought I was going to leave that hospital widowed at 22. I felt like I was dying, and it was too much to bear, but thankfully it was pretty short-lived (in the grand scheme of things).
Well, after 3 months of waiting for Harrison to wake up (from comatose, vegetative and minimally conscious states), an ugly encounter with hydrocephalus, discovering that he has full cognition, long and short term memory, same personality, and some serious physical deficits (for now), here we are. We are home…but things sure are different. When we left Nashville for the wedding, we were living in a quaint apartment a few miles from where I grew up. We loved that apartment, but we had stairs and Harrison is now bound to a wheelchair. The two of us lived there, but one of us now needed the care of two more. So we moved in with my parents, which was a comforting, familiar place for both of us. We were also both about to start our master’s programs. Mine was in counseling and Harrison’s in film and creative media. And then, all of it was just gone. No more school, no more apartment, no more independence for our little family. And for a while, there was no more Harry. I didn’t know how much of the man I loved was in his shell, but I always hoped and prayed for the best. I felt like I lost everything, and after taking a course in death, grief and loss, I was finally starting to understand all about non-death related loss. But in November, the long 3-month wait ended and Harry came back to me, and there is nothing better in the world than getting back the person you love most.
People say “bless your heart” and “your life must be so hard,” but I’m like…”Not as hard as thinking my husband would die” or “not as painful as imagining what I would do when I left that trauma center without the love of my life.” I have faced worse than this. Sure, it’s true that life is sometimes a struggle and that there are still so many things that Harrison and I can’t do right now. It’s incredibly painful to see him cry because he can’t hold me or dance with me. That’s all we want more than anything in the world. We want to go hiking, we want to go to school, have babies, and travel the world. Our life plans have been uprooted, but we are gratefully trying to embrace this new plan that God has laid out for us, and man, He sure has us taken care of.
I guess what I’m getting at is this: Don’t feel sorry for us because life as we knew it is gone. I am over that, and every time someone says “bless your heart,” I have to work through painful feelings all over again. We are happy. My husband is alive, and we share more love than many people will ever get to experience. Harrison is the same inside as he always has been, and though he is not physically restored, I say, “What’s stopping him? What’s stopping God?” There is no reason to give up now. Healing from this type of injury takes years and years. Harrison will walk again, talk again, teach our beautiful babies (who don’t exist yet) to play soccer in the backyard. YES, HE WILL! And it’s true, for now, that our lives are not quite normal or like everyone else’s, and there will definitely be days where we mourn what we have lost. But most days, I am counting my blessings. I am looking lovingly at my husband and telling him, through tears, of how I begged for his life and God answered my prayer. I am serving him in the most basic ways. I am taking nothing for granted and thanking God for every moment. And we are okay. We are persevering. We will not be shaken. And though life as we knew it is a distant memory, we look forward to life as we will know it. It’s sure to be beautiful.