Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life's Hard.... and other lessons I learned this year.

     This year has been difficult... and that is an understatement. Many of you have walked through this year with us.  Many of you know the story.  A year ago Brent was laid off without warning, severance, or even a last paycheck. This came after his employer pursued him for a year and convinced him to close our business and come to work for him   It was a complete shock.  But, we decided that we would stand firm and move forward.  Our children cried "Why?" and all we could do was hug them.  All I could say was  " Why , NOT us ? We aren't exempt!" Little did we know what was ahead of us.

     I will never forget the call.  I still cry when I think too long about the details of the conversation.  " Robyn, Brent has fallen."  I knew he was on a ladder that day doing repair work. What I didn't know was that he was 39+ feet up on a ladder.  The ladder broke at the top and he fell over 39 feet .  He feel on a large azalea bush that was surrounded by air conditioning units and a concrete pool deck.  So close that he was an inch from the concrete on two sides. By the grace of God, the homeowner was home and saw him fall from her 3rd floor bedroom window.  The details and facts about the next three weeks are a bit of a blur.  He survived with "only" three broken vertebrae and a shattered pelvis. He was lucky was to be alive.  Did I mention our health insurance had lapsed 5 days prior?  We had the best surgeons and team of doctors to help put him back together.  He spent a total of three weeks in the hospital , had extensive surgery to repair his pelvis, and was given a wheelchair because he could put NO weight on his legs while his pelvis healed. Did I mention we have steps, no shower on the first floor, and were not equipped to get him IN the house with a wheelchair?

     There were so many challenges. Financial ruin, feeding a large family, how to pay for the surgery, how to get our house handicap accessible, how to make a living , how long will he be in a wheelchair, out of work, how will we survive, ect.   But, there were so many blessings that came from this situation.  While we are still in the middle of much of the aftermath of these life altering events, we are surviving.  Many have asked " how"?  My answer is always the same ... " Faith... we chose faith"   What else could we do? Give up? Lay on the floor and cry? Get angry ? Give up? Trust me,  all of those options entered my mind a few times.  I even attempted a few of them ... and mastered some of them.

     The funny part of trauma is that it is hard to recognize when you are in the rubble of it.  In the beginning, you learn to live or sometimes only breathe through the shattered reality of your world . It is complete survival. You long for those days where your biggest decisions are about the normal things in life.  The ability to sit quietly without tears streaming down your face, the choice of what your day will be like, or just a simple moment to breath without worry.  Even when the outside effects of the trauma subside, the internal wounds are still very real.  They go unnoticed.  Those around you assume your life is back to " normal" .  But, there is no more normal.  Re-entry into life is hard. Many just don't understand and want our "normal" back as much as we do.  I am not sure we will ever reach normal again.  We talk about it often and it seems to be our long term goal. But, I think creating a new normal is really the gift.  The gift of accepting what happened and moving on .  

     Through this we have learned so much.  That is the part I want to share.  I know many have not gone through what we have this past year. Many felt the need to apologize for sharing their own battles as they "don't compare" to what we were walking through.   But, I imagine the pain , exhaustion, grief, and disappointment of their reality probably felt the same as ours.  After all,  its all relative.

     Lesson's I learned this year   
  • People are good , kind and want to help those in need .  Friends , family and strangers showed up in the hospital to love on us.  While Brent was in a morphine haze , I remember them all.  The prayers, the hugs, the support, the cards, the laughs.... all were essential to getting through those first few days. One of the best  were a bouquet of  flowers with a ladder in the center and a little robin bird on top. Thank God for friends that make you laugh.  
  • My Mom showed up in a matter of hours and took over.  What an amazing woman.  She stepped in and keep our kids and home running. As mom this was such a blessing.  My kids were cared for and I could concentrate on caring for Brent.
  • When I was asked " What do you need?" All I could think of was that we didn't have wood to heat the house and it was November.  Five truck loads showed up the next week along with friends to chop and stack it !  
  • There were friends that thought of things we didn't even know we needed. A dear friend came to my rescue and took me out for a meal. I had not eaten in 4 days. While I couldn't eat much ,  I was able to share, cry , and laugh.  Meals delivery by friends and strangers were ongoing for weeks.  
  • The hospital staff went to work for us , getting the necessary tools to get him home.  He needed wheelchairs, toilet seats, slide boards, a body brace, fragmin shots to prevent blood clots , and a ramp to get him in the house.  My mom called one morning to share that a relative of a friend of ours was at the house building us a ramp.  A gift..... !  They wouldn't release Brent to come home after weeks in the hospital until this ramp was built. 
  • A sweet friend brought me a gas card and a Starbucks gift card so I would not be subject to " hospital " coffee. Oh what a gift to leave the hospital for 10 minutes for a cup of coffee and fresh air.
  • Our small group from church decided to come to the hospital because we couldnt be there . God is so good. He knows just what we need.
  •  Friends and strangers went to work to make our home ready for Brent to come home. Our friends brought over a bed to set up in our living room because Brent couldn't get up steps to our bedroom .  A stranger who heard about our situation through school and delivered a sleeper sofa so I could sleep near Brent to take care of him through the night. 
  • When the garage door broke and we couldnt access  the ramp, a friend of a friend showed up to fix it late one night-- no charge. All because a friend called one morning and asked "what do you need?"
  • The care I received when friends, who knew I was running on empty, brought me large diet cokes, magazines and soft pillows.  
  • My sweet friend who committed to making sure my gray hair didn't show through when she cut and colored it for me. 
  • The special delivery of homemade spaghetti and meatballs that arrived via fed ex, on ice,  from friends in Maryland.
  • My children that arrived daily to hug me, encourage me, and remind me what we were fighting for.
  • The  teachers that cared for the kids , made sure they were surviving, and gave them a place to share their struggles. 
  • Family that showered us with love, prayers, and their encouragement.
  • The cards with words of encouragement that arrived with stamps when I had to go mail bills. 

    There are many other blessings . Many that I know I have neglected to mention but hold tightly in my memories. I could never properly thank everyone. But, today, just 10 months after his fall and a year since his layoff,  I chose to celebrate what we have .  Today, is a new day.



    The Brights said...

    Thank you for sharing this story. You have no idea how much it speaks to our current situation.

    French Hen Farm said...

    wow! I just read your story. What an amazing woman you are and how blessed you are to have such a wonderful support group. I have a friend who is going through a similar nightmare that I just came home from visiting and I found you. This was just the thing I needed to read to help me support her. I will share your story with her tomorrow and I am sure it will give her strength. She is surviving on faith right now too.
    Thank you for sharing your story. Best wishes to you and your family