Mid June – July is littered with markers for events that have changed my life. On June 19, David and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. This is what I worked on, but unfinished, I never posted:
It was an awkward love, Ours. Victims of small-town matchmaking drawn together by a mysterious Love that would not let us go.
How clearly we could see on that June evening 15 years ago! Using thoughts from Frederick Buechner’s essay A Room Called Remember to frame our ceremony, we knew this truth: “Every person we have ever known, every place we have ever seen, everything that has ever happened to us – it all lives and breathes deep in us somewhere……”
Never a honeymoon, we wrestled the demons. Splashed with just enough goodness and joy. Determined, resourceful, committed. Ever held together by a mysterious Love that would not let us go.
How dimly we could see on that June evening 15 years ago! The challenges embedded in our journey have cost so many therapy dollars. And yet…..
I never finished the post but that night I partially quoted Josh Garrels on my Facebook page and it pretty much sums up how I’d write the ending: “A million miles from where we begun. And I still love you, David Searls…. Actually, I love you more.”
Then June 27 marked a car accident 8 years ago that forever altered the course of my life. As the calendar pages turned this year I wrestled with the fact that I’m still so very frustrated with that moment which took skills and dreams from me and left me learning how to sort and invest in what was left. David showed me an article from the July issue of Outside magazine. In it Marc Peruzzi reviews The Crash Reel, Lucy Walker’s documentary about former pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce as he recovers from a traumatic brain injury. Peruzzi says, “As Walker powerfully depicts, the brain is not a blown ACL repairable with time and a scrap of pig tendon. A TBI is forever.” Even these 8 years later I continue to navigate the impact of my own TBI and it frustrates me in so many ways. It turns out our move to Alaska stripped away so many of the support structures we built and nurtured after the accident and it’s been a really rocky road here.
Even while I struggled with my angry accident-anniversary emotions this year I watched our local news about former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords traveling through Anchorage with her husband Mark Kelly. They were at the beginning of their “Rights and Responsibilities” tour to gather support for expanding background checks for gun buyers. Guns and politics aside, I have long been drawn to the courage she’s demonstrated after her life-changing brain injury by gun shot. If I can be so bold to say, her book title describes themes of my own journey: Gabby: A Story of Courage, Love and Resilience. I am grateful for her example and her willingness to share some of her story.
This month also marks 10 years since my first and most dramatic miscarriage. That pregnancy was planned. After 5 years of wandering, David and I were finally on a path to an organized, goal-driven future together. Such a brief illusion of control. In my journal the day after my D&C I wrote, “There are so many questions that arise now – the course that we had chartered is no longer the course we are on.” It turned out to be a whirlwind week of emotions and medical drama colliding with a storm of rapidly changing plans. Instead of staying home with my 2 year old son and expectant pregnancy, as planned the coming fall, by the end of the week I had a new full-time teaching job and keys to the classroom.
For whatever reasons my body and that D&C did not work well together and at the risk of Too Much Information: after bleeding the next several months I had a second D&C at the end of September. The second round of anti-nausea drug made me wacky! There are plenty of stories. My family delights to tell. But beneath my infamous chicken dance was panic and fear and I sometimes suspect a life-changing hormonal imbalance, which causes me grief still. I am actively struggling through drug & strategy recalibrations with my doctors right now as we try to get things back in balance after my routine rattled and eventually fell apart in our move north.
These are the shadows I walk through in this season. Some days I feel good and look forward in hope to the possibilities ahead. Other days I’m overwhelmed by the challenges and frustrated by my brain’s difficulty sorting the stress. But always I know Buechner’s words from that wedding text are true: “We have survived, you and I. Maybe that is at the heart of our remembering…..we have made it to this year, this day. We needn’t have made it. There were times we never thought we would and nearly didn’t…..And what does that tell us, our surviving? It tells us that weak as we are, a strength beyond our strength has pulled us through at least this far, at least to this day.”
Oh, Love that will not let me go. Thank you.