We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams into reality, it takes a lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
I still get choked up thinking of this special day…March 28th, 2014~my daughter’s Junior Prom.
Earlier in the day my son rushed my husband home from his rehab so that he could get see my daughter before she embarked on the biggest day of her Junior year. He wanted take a special father-daughter picture, and was determined to stand-up and hold her hand. He had already missed out on several milestones involving our children that were important to him due to his long stay in the hospital. He missed out on dropping off his son at college, and was unable to take our daughter-the one he spent hours teaching how to drive-to the DMV when she went to get her license. He missed homecoming dances, open houses, and special school events. But now it was his daughter's first prom. He had thought of this day for so long, and there was nothing that was going to get in his way.
When my son wheeled him through the door, after the long drive home from therapy, his baby girl was walking down the staircase looking stunningly beautiful like we had never seen her before. He was so happy he was able to make it home in time to see her, but there was also a sense of urgency to take the picture as quickly as possible as her date was on his way.
By the time Vaughn was ready for this special moment, his body had tightened up as is always the case after rehab. He was worn out, exhausted, and his muscles ached all over. As always, he squeezed every ounce of effort during his therapy session. He gave it his all with nothing to spare.
Yet through all the pain, and the weary muscles, my husband managed to stand up even though his body wanted to sit down. He struggled a bit like a baby deer standing for the first time. He gritted his teeth, let out a groan, locked his knees and stood up! My daughter cuddled up to him, helping him balance for a few seconds. Although his legs were starting to wobble, he smiled for the picture beaming with pride. As I snapped the picture I got-teary eyed because I knew how much he extended himself to make the moment happen. He did it for his daughter, but most especially he did it for himself.
Some of the biggest life-lessons that have been bestowed upon me are made possible by a man who never gives up, never stops trying, and never stops believing for the impossible to become possible.
It was exactly one year ago, at the end of June 2013, when I was asked to join my good friends on a twilight hike up Mt. Diablo-the beautiful landmark in the backyard of our town of Clayton. It had been years since I stepped foot onto that mountain. I was grateful to finally return and get some much-needed exercise, as well as a mental break from the situation at home.
When the kids were in elementary school, I used to hike with a group of Moms who also had children the same ages as mine. Every Wednesday, after we dropped the kids off at school, we tackled the mountain. We picked different routes each week, but before long we had repeated the hikes so many times, that the trails became second nature. I found comfort walking the trails, seeing the same trees, smelling the same smells, being with the same friends, hearing their same laughter, telling the same stories, feeling the same happiness. We did this for years, and for me that mountain represented familiarity, tradition, and dependability.
But the twilight hike I took on this night, in June of 2013, was different. I was with the same friends-only four of us on this particular hike-but inside I felt uneasy. I so wanted the familiarity of the mountain and my friends to seep back into my bloodstream, but those feelings weren't surfacing. I felt so out of sorts, like a fish out of water. The mountain didn't change. My friends hadn't changed. They were the same, fun-loving friends as before. I was hoping to feel the same comfort my friends and that mountain used to bring me, but I just wasn't feeling "it." It seemed as though everything that transpired over that year had finally caught up with me.
Yet, it wasn't just that hike that was making me feel like this. It was every event I attended around that time-in June of 2013. Graduation parties, birthdays, a memorial, get-togethers, etc.. I used to be alive at these events; it's what I lived for. I'm an extrovert by nature, one who is energized by people and events. The pleasure that I would get while walking into a party had disappeared. Something deep inside me was hiding, lying dormant like a bear hibernating in winter. Perhaps it would be temporary, and I would be able to crawl out of the cave when the time was right. At least that's what I hoped, anyway.
The place I felt the best was at home, in my routine, away from a world that I now had a hard time fitting into. It's what was familiar, it’s what gave me comfort, and it’s where I belonged. There was no judgment or awkwardness at home, only open arms. I knew the pain that I was feeling stemmed from the accident and the adjustments everyone in my family, and most especially Vaughn, were having to make. It was that simple, and nothing more.
Back to that twilight hike...one of my friends who was with me that night, was someone who I had always admired. She is spiritual and perceptive; she’s my kindred spirit. She and I were walking and talking together that evening and she conveyed how concerned she was for me. She was very in tune with me, and said that while my mouth was smiling, my eyes were not. She detected the pain I was in fact feeling inside. I couldn't fool her...she just knew. I felt safe to open up to her, and she in turn listened and gave me some great advice.
But the thing I hung my hat on, and to this day will never forget, was the prediction she made. She told me that one day, when I least expected it, I would wake up and the dark cloud that hovered above me would be lifted, that my soul would be unchained from the noose that was strangling my spirit. She guaranteed me that day would happen. She encouraged me to hang on and to have faith. I wanted to believe her in the worst way. I missed my old self, and desperately wanted her back.
Approximately four months later, while we were visiting Kyle in Santa Barbara, I was sitting outside on the balcony one Saturday morning all by myself. I was enjoying my coffee, the sounds of the birds chirping, the warmth of the sun on my skin, and was so excited for the day that we had set up to be together as a family. As I sat there, I felt someone hovering over me, but it didn't feel like a stranger. It felt like it was someone who I hadn't seen in a long time. It was someone who I missed and was desperate to see again. I didn't have to look up for I knew who it was...for it was me-the person who was lost and who had finally found her way back! It dawned on me that I was genuinely feeling something positive again. Those familiar thoughts and good feelings had returned. That dark cloud had finally released its tight grip and floated away. I'm not exactly sure the exact moment when that cloud sailed away, and what I did differently for it to happen. I just knew that it was gone and my true self was shining through again.
I was so glad I went on the hike that day and had the opportunity to talk to my special friend. I have come a long way from where I started. I take more time to enjoy the small things …the chirps of the birds, the stars, the moon, sprinklers hitting the grass, the sounds of crickets, etc. As for the big things...I appreciate them even more...my husband, my children, my friends,and my health.
Life may not always be fair and perfect, but I've learned that even in the face of hardship, life is precious and is meant to be enjoyed. Happiness is possible, you just have to open up your heart and let it in.
I'm the proud mother of two wonderful children, and the loving wife & caregiver of my husband, who suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury during an ocean accident seven years ago. I want to share our story and the profound impact it's had on our lives. I hope you will find my entries/blogs interesting, thought-provoking, and perhaps helpful should tragedy or hard-times every strike.
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