It’s June. It’s a month, it’s an anniversary.
It’s not a birthday, though Lily and Lyle have June birthdays. It’s not a wedding anniversary, though June is a pretty big “get married” month. Marty and I got married in January.
It’s a homecoming, more accurately it’s a coming home anniversary and it’s one of those milestone anniversaries. Eleven years ago this month Marty came home after an April aneurysm, eleven years since she had a better chance of dying than living.
Ten years ago in June Marty and I came home after her second stroke, the one that took her left side, her independence and part of her fire.
Both times the coming home was relatively short lived. After the aneurysm Marty had to have one more surgery to replace the cover on her lid, she had a piece of her skull missing. They had to go back and replace it with prosthesis. It’s great plastic work, you can’t tell it from the original.
The second time, we weren’t home more than a week before we had to go back to the hospital via the emergency room. It was the first er/hospital trip of many.
That was ten years ago, ten years ago when a couple of friends took me to play golf and we got through five holes before I got a call that I needed to come home. I went home, I talked to the home health nurse, we took Marty to the hospital, again, and checked her in because of pneumonia. I felt completely and totally overwhelmed.
I clearly remember sitting on the tub in our bathroom (my hideout) trying to catch my breath, trying to calm my racing heart, trying to avoid a full blown anxiety attack. It felt like, after all we had been through, it was one disaster after another all leading, all culminating in Marty dying on my watch, at our home, where I was supposed to be good enough, smart enough, strong enough to will her alive and healthy.
That was ten years ago and our lives have continued to evolve, largely for the better. Marty is still broken, Marty is still very susceptible to infection and illness, Marty still requires more care than I ever thought. Marty is still with me, with all of us, and it’s very much a miracle of medicine, good care, and good old fashioned Watkins women’s perseverance.
We have endured a lot of anxiety and we have lived through tumultuous change. We have been afraid, we have mourned, we have cried, we have been angry, we have felt guilt, been lonely, isolated, ignorant, sometimes careless and without faith.
We have felt and experienced pretty much the same emotions as normal people, the same as most of you, yet different, maybe enhanced, maybe not.
What I know is we are living, 11 years after brushing against our own mortality. We are smarter and more experienced and better able to handle whatever the future may send us.
I really want everyone to understand that the road the fates have taken us has been, at too many times, awful. The last 10 or 11 years have been harder than I ever imagined and I was not, not, not remotely prepared or emotionally capable of handling this past decade.
Guess what, I, we, Marty and me, handled it and we did it, not because we’re special, we aren’t. There is a simple key, it’s really simple, you do what you have to do, you face what you have to face and you walk your path one tremulous step at a time and you don’t look too far down the trail or it will be way too frightening.
The result of the last decade, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know. I found my passion, something we all need to find, it turns out I was living with her all the time. I learned I could learn and so could Marty, I learned we could endure hardship, I learned we are up to the task we have been given, and most importantly I learned you can adapt to anything, to any disaster in your personal journey.
And if I know anything, I know you can do it too.