As I'm going through my routine this morning, feeling the anxiety creeping in, I began having flash backs so vivid, I had to sit down. Looking down at the man that for 4 months had only shown me love and strength, inconsolable as he lays on my lap sobbing, the doctors voice seems to fade as though he's in another room. Hearing words jump out at me "The prognosis is 2-5 years from diagnosis.....I'll get you in touch with the ALS clinic closer to your house....there's hope..."
I remember this scene as though it had happened yesterday, and not 5 years ago today. 5 years. I'm glad to be writing this blog today, because there were more times than I like to remember that almost stopped Steve from making it to this landmark day. This day 5 years ago, I truly didn't know if I would still have my husband and I could have never imagined all that we have gone through.
Recalling this day 5 years ago, and all that's happened in between I want to write 5 huge things I've learned from this wild, unpredictable, up and down, and all around ride.
1. Love truly does conquer all. If you've followed Steve & I for this long, you know the reality of the situation almost overruled the sanctity of marriage on many occasions. It truly took love to overcome the fights, the wheelchair running overs, the slapping of fear, hands, & reality. Without love, neither Steve or I would have survived the past 5 years. Not just our marriage but with what all ALS puts you through. This day 5 years ago we were so naive on if all the progression would happen to Steve, and if you've followed you'll know it violently hit us on each new stage. Every new challenge, every new routine change, without love it would have torn us apart, but instead it's made us stronger; stronger than I could have ever imagined us to be.
2. Good health is a blessing. Aside from the destruction of ALS, the added complications, that are added to the already devastating disease progression, puts life into perspective. I used to complain when my nose was a little stuffy, or I had a sore throat; but looking back at all Steve's gone through; I never ever ever have anything to complain about. My health is a blessing, my ability to walk, talk, eat, breathe, clear my lungs, bend my arms and knees, scratch an itch, rub a sore muscle, etc. It's all a blessing. Just to be able to actually cough when I'm sick, to be able to put my own band aid on a scratch, or to be able to use that muscle no matter how sore it gets. To be able to write this blog. It's all a blessing.
3. Bad times do not last. No matter how bad they seem. "There's no way we will get through this," is a thought that would cross my mind during each new adjustment in the early days. After new dark periods, the light would come back shining a little brighter each time. Slowly as we started to become professional rough patch survivors, we would find ourselves using that belief, that something good was around the corner, to carry us through.
4. Choices really matter. Until Steve and I chose to accept the diagnosis, we were at odds with life, once we were able to accept the reality, it was then that we were able to plan and live. We had to make the choice early on because in the first few days, we almost lost it all. We were going to break up, Steve wasn't going to fight this, and we were going to forget the love between the two of us ever existed. Thankfully that lasted a day or two, because the choice to be together for whatever time we did have, the choice to do as much as we could with what we had, and the choice to take what life gives you and make the best of it; is the only reason we've made it 5 years. It was a choice to make our life what we have. There will never be a choice I've made so important in my lifetime.
5. There's always something to be grateful for. Shifting a life from focusing on the negative life was handing me, to the focus on all the blessings maybe should be number 1 on the list. Because without this none of the others would even be here. I probably wouldn't be writing this blog. Finding the blessing in every situation is the cheese in mac n cheese. Without it, bad times would last, choices would probably lean more towards the negative, I wouldn't see many blessings, & love may not have been enough. You create your life everyday. So many people say, "But I didn't choose this to happen to me." Of course, we didn't choose ALS; but we took that circumstance and chose how to make it the best life we could, by finding the good. I've written on this (all of it really) before, but still find myself writing on it. Because, I still find people needing to read the message (and me needing a reminder). So a trick I've shared before is to start and end your day with 5 gratitude's. If you haven't tried it from the first 100 times I've talked about it, maybe you will time 101. :)
To sit here and be able to explain how much growth, joy, & perspective the past 5 years have brought me in one blog, is impossible. Hence, why I have committed to writing in my book daily. It may take me another 5 years to write it ;), but this day 5 years ago, put Steve and I on a new path with two different options to walk down. I tear up when I think of how grateful I am we chose this path, because we didn't have to, and it would have been easier not to. So for the next how many years I'm gifted with, on this day, I will reflect in the same way, and share an eerily similar blog; because for every new person to read this, and them to choose the positive path; my life purpose is fulfilled.