Today is Marty’s 59th birthday.
Today we are nine years post diagnosis of her multiple sclerosis. Today we are eight years past her ruptured aneurysm. Today we are seven years past her last stroke.
In those years Marty has been in the hospital literally dozens of times, endured brain surgeries, countless indelicate procedures, taken way too many antibiotics and fought against death more times than I care to recount.
In those years Marty has lost her ability to care for herself, to walk, to drive, to work, to think clearly and independently. In those years Marty’s life, our lives, our perspective and basic understanding of each other and the people around us has radically changed.
In those years Marty has seen her baby girl graduate from college, twice. She has danced at her daughter’s wedding, seen the birth of three grandchildren and kissed each one as they were baptized.
In those years since the strokes Marty has seen both of her children grow, develop more independence and thrive in their own lives with their own families.
In those years Marty has touched her ailing mother and eventually buried her, and she let go of part of her history, her past.
In those years Marty has touched and affected the lives of countless strangers and friends who have come to know her in her “new normal”. Marty has brought new people into our lives we would never have know otherwise and we are better for it and so are those new people.
In those years Marty has beaten the odds, she has survived an uncompromising disease and disability. In those years Marty has exemplified Dylan Thomas’s thoughts about, “do not go gently into that good night.” In her own inimitable fashion she has “raged against the dying of the light.” In those years Marty has become the symbol of living through adversity.
In those tumultuous days, weeks, months and years since the first stroke, when no one thought she would live or come home Marty has felt pain, loneliness, fear, hopelessness and love. Marty has seen the love of her family, she has felt the love of a husband, she has known the loyalty and steadfastness of her children.
In the years since the events Marty has taken a rare and dangerous survival trek and because she chose to survive, because she did survive, she wins, she gets to know something many will never know, on this her birthday, she knows she is loved without pause and without condition.
It’s a really difficult trade, but sometimes you have no choice and you must search for victories.
“And the greatest of these is love”.