Miracles

With each day brings new challenges. The most recent of these is dealing with the agony of watching TC try to make sense of his growing awareness about the situation. He’s still lethargic, in and out of sleep, restless, and incredibly uncomfortable. As he awakens, he becomes increasingly angry and frustrated. He notices the restraints holding down his left limbs and he fights them ferociously, looking for ways to escape from his bed. His first mode of communication is his right eye. He scans the room for me and after capturing my attention, he makes a silent plea to help relieve him of his misery. As I launch into my hundredth explanation of why he needs to remain calm, his agitation grows and he eventually turns his anger on me (or whoever is in the room with him). Last night he spent 40 minutes fiercely trying to flag down nurses, hoping that someone, anyone, would help him. In their sweet voices, nurses reiterate what I have already told him and that’s when the kicking, hitting, and silent screaming begin. It’s painful to watch. Yet this very scene is the one I prayed for only two weeks ago. We have already received one very big miracle.

You see, my life with TC has been a series of miracles since the day we met just over seven years ago. After a number of failed dating endeavors, my best friend Claire dragged me against my will to our neighborhood bar. She was intent on distracting me from my self-pity by force feeding me Mai Thais and Camel Lights. TC had been dragged to the bar himself, by a friend who was hoping to make a love connection with a girl he had recently met. Bars have never been TC’s scene. He always hated the drunk pretense of talking to people you don’t really know for the sole purpose of not going home alone for one evening. We were 22, not looking for a relationship, and marriage was about the furthest thing from our minds.

However, alarm bells suddenly rang that moment I first spotted him. I had one of those rare moments of clarity in which I quickly recognized that if I didn’t attempt to talk to this stranger, I would most certainly miss out on what would be the most extraordinary thing to ever happen in my life. We spent hours talking that evening. We discovered we shared a handful of mutual friends, a love for travel, and a deep curiosity about the world around us. Everyone at the bar faded into the background. There were only the two of us, sitting outside, talking endlessly. I immediately fell in love with the way TC saw the world. He was confident yet completely unassuming. He was ambitious yet it was clear he had the intellect to follow through with all of his lofty goals. After parting ways that night, I turned to Claire and declared, “That’s the man I’m going to marry.” Like a good friend would, she agreed.

Although there was always magic to our relationship, it was often accompanied by hardship. A year and a half after meeting, TC and I were hit head-on by an unlicensed teenage driver and two of her friends. It was Thanksgiving Day and I had been eager to celebrate my first Thanksgiving with TC’s family. As it turns out, I did spend the day with his family, only it was in an emergency room and not at his mother’s dining room table. Despite the wreckage of twisted metal that became of the two vehicles involved, I was not seriously injured. TC was less fortunate. He suffered from a lacerated bladder after being cut internally by his seatbelt. The EMT’s who responded to the accident were shocked no one had been killed.

Through this situation TC and I learned that we had to become master communicators if our relationship was going to make it through the long haul. We dealt very differently with our feelings about the injustice of the situation and the disruption it had caused in our lives. We had just put closure to the situation when we were thrust into our next challenge: caring for my father who had recently been diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. From the day my dad became sick, I threw my entire heart and soul into his survival. I convinced TC that it was necessary for us to move to Washington, DC (we were based in Boston at the time) so that we could become my dad’s caregivers. My mother was doing more than her part, but because my parents split their time between DC and southern Maryland, she was often far away when my dad needed help. Not only did TC agree, he offered to let my dad live with us so that we could monitor his health more closely. We were weeks away from our wedding, about to begin our lives as newlyweds, and spending most every day at the hospital as my dad’s health worsened. I had told TC months before this that I would only ever marry him if my dad could be at our wedding. This gave TC a very limited time frame in which to make my dream a reality. But he did it. He wasn’t sure he was ready, but he did it anyway.

Once married, we never looked back. We knew it was the right decision for us and something we would have done in the future anyway. Those early months of marriage were difficult as we watched my father continue to deteriorate under our roof. But on the eve of Snowmageddon 2010 (everyone remember that?), we were all given a second chance at life when my father received the call that he was going to be the recipient of a liver transplant.

For two weeks we trudged through the snow to Georgetown Hospital waiting for my dad to awake from his surgery. Some nights the snow was so bad that we huddled together in the hospital waiting room and just slept on the floor. It was an experience that solidified TC’s role in my family. He was unwavering in his support and commitment to us all.

Nine months to the day of when we got that phone call, our son Jack was born. It’s an unbelievably true story that proves not only that miracles exist, but that they happen to real people all the time. In a few years from now, TC and I will be sitting at the dining room table (maybe it will even be Thanksgiving) and we’ll be recalling the incident of August 18th, 2012. We’ll remember in awe the incredible community that lifted us up during that terrible time in our young lives. We’ll thank the brilliant medical staff that worked tirelessly to keep TC alive, when all the odds were against him. And we’ll smile knowing that a future exists ahead of us that is even brighter than the one we had envisioned before.

6 thoughts on “Miracles

  1. We don't know each other, I learned of this incident through Vanesa. However, your strength amazes me and the story brings tears to my eyes. What an incredible wife TC has, please know that I am thinking of you and your family daily from across the country (OR). Also, I am an OT and continue to fight for TC to have as much OT and PT (and speech if needed). The system often needs a strong advocate to be sure they do not decrease services, until it is truly appropriate to do so. Best to you during this challenging time, Molly

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  2. We have never met you, but we are neighbors and have been reading your posts. You and TC clearly share an incredible love. I hope that these dark days pass quickly for you.

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  3. Jason and I continue to send all our positive energy to you, TC and Jack. I truly believe you and TC will get back to where you want. Let us know if there is anything we can do. If at any time you need a break we have plenty of room here in Chicago for a weekend getaway.

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  4. Dear Abby,

    I don't know your husband or you, but I read about this horrific attack a few weeks ago and have continued to check back for updates in the hope that the person(s) who did this to your husband/family are found and brought to justice. If “justice” exists. I read your blog this morning through tears and was so moved by your ability to express, in writing, the love you have for your husband. I will continue to pray for you, TC, and your son. Your strength amazes me.

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  5. Dear Abby,

    My name is Amanda. I am good friends with John K. and have met TC a few times, and I think you and I may have met once. I have wanted to write a number of times but don't know what I could say that would help your situation. I think about you and TC everyday and try to imagine what you must be going through.

    Today, I just wanted to write and say that I am in total admiration of not only your strength to cope with this horrible situation but also your drive to find strength and hope from it. You are an incredible woman, and it breaks my heart that you are going through this. But it is also so inspiring to see you rise above it. I will continue to pray for TC's steady recovery and for your continued strength.

    Sending you and your families thoughts of loving kindness everyday,
    Amanda

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  6. Dear Abby,

    You do not know me, but I am a Hill neighbor. My family and I just want you to know we are praying for TC, you and Jack and will continue to pray for healing and strength.

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