Two years ago our lives changed forever. Michael had his accident, and nothing has been the same since. Not terrible or devastating, but, just, different.
I remember it all too vividly.
I remember existing in two worlds simultaneously on the police escort to the hospital. One was my world that morning, when I kissed him goodbye as he left for work. But, on the way to the hospital, and in between the silence, I prepared to visualize a world with just Blake and I, because I knew that may be a possibility that I would have to face. I didn’t have time to panic, only react. And I made a choice to to react in preparation for whatever I was going to find when I walked through those hospital doors.
Which brings us to the present.
I laid in best last night knowing this was the anniversary of the most notable day of my life. I gave Michael an extra hug and kiss.
I think of this day more often than I’d like to admit. Every holiday. Most days when he’s late from work. Sometimes he randomly calls me at work just to leave a voicemail and tell me that he loves me, but I usually end up answering because I have a thought that I’ll miss that phone call. I think of it when he gets called out. When I see his scars. When I see him limping.
But, I think of it not in anger or sadness, but in gratefulness because I feel like we were given the gift of life that day. It’s a good reminder to appreciate every moment.
Today is Mother’s Day and unfortunately he had to work, but I made sure to spend an extra special day with Blake at Disney, because, even though I didn’t remind Blake of that day, I wanted to celebrate LIFE with him.
Michael and I used to run half marathons together, but his leg doesn’t allow it anymore. His physique has changed because he must work out in different ways now (My tall and buff handsome guy!) I can tell the days when his leg hurts if he’s been on it too much, but he never complains.
Last week when Blake had his MRI at Arnold Palmer I had a surge of emotions rushing just because of the timing. I knew this anniversary date was coming up, because the 13th just isn’t a number you easily forget. Arnold Palmer hospital is right next to ORMC, where Michael was taken. As I drove to the parking garage with Blake last week, I saw the exact spot the news crew were two years ago as we drove up to the Emergency Room. And, right across the street from there is Winnie Palmer where I gave birth. Arnold Palmer. Winnie Palmer. And ORMC. Three vivid memories in 3 different hospitals for 3 different reasons, 4 years apart.
It was just a lot!
I’ve sat down on numerous occasions trying to write a letter to the man who changed our lives, who now sits in a prison cell for attempted murder on my husband. I even tried putting it in a blog post, and the first draft entry is from December 6, 2016. I’ve never been able to finish it, and I don’t know if I ever will. I keep drafting it trying to get to the point of “forgiveness”, but honestly, I haven’t quite gotten there just yet. I’m never going to send it, it’s more therapeutic than anything.
People often compliment us for being so strong and getting through so much, but we don’t feel that way at all. Not because we feel weak at all, but because we both know it’s all just life.
It isn’t about what happens to you, but it’s how you come through on the other side.
Life is crazy.
A Letter to THAT Man
Dear Mr. M.,
I’ve heard that accepting differences and crossing boundaries between people who are different than you means first trying to identify the things that are the same. The commonalities. It seems to be this way in politics, at least. Find a common ground, and you can find peace. You and I do have a commonality. On Friday, May 13th, both of our lives changed forever, and after this day, we both find ourselves on a path to recovery. Me, emotionally. You, literally; physically. So, not in the same way, but we can agree that on May 13th, our lives were altered from their current course, and we continue to find ourselves recovering from the consequences of that day.
Please know that I do not admit to the fact that we are the same person at all. The way I see it, our commonalities are only surface. Because you sit in prison, while I type away in the comfort of my living room. In a home that my husband protects.
Life is crazy. You helped me to understand that, and coin that term for myself. I use it often to denote the unpredictability and intricacies of life.
I’m still on the path to forgiveness, not quite there, but I get a little closer as time passes. I don’t blame you any more. I no longer wish ill of you, which, trust me, is a huge leap considering the anger I felt that day in the hospital when you were right across the hall from my husband, with correctional officers guarding your door. I was so full of emotions that I feel quite certain my adrenaline alone could’ve catapulted me through those two large armed men and into your hospital room. I may be small but don’t underestimate the power of a woman madly in love with her husband after 12 years, who has a sleeping 2 year old at home.
Yes, my heart was so full of anger toward you. The rage is gone, but forgiveness is too precious to me right now. I’m not there yet, but I continue to work toward it, because I feel that I must. I need to let go.
There will be peace there.
If we were face to face right now I would tell you what a great man he is. Because you need to know what you tired to take away from this world. How he sacrifices himself day in and day out, not only for his family, but for his community. How he comes home after a hard day at work and still plays with his son and wrestles with him. How he does the dishes and helps with the laundry. How he supports me in everything I do, unwaveringly and how he’s my biggest fan, no matter how many times I mess up. How, even though he served in the military and numerous tours in Iraq, he is so humble he won’t even stand at a hockey game when servicemen and women are being honored, but is the first to clap for the rest of them. How he never complains about the physical pain his leg causes him, and how he has never, ONCE, wished anything bad upon you. In fact, he hopes for the best.
He’s a better man than most.
And what I really, really want to say to you is that he’s a better man than you.
I feel like I could waste a lot of breath questioning you, asking you why, and attempting to figure it all out. I realize nothing will be gained from this. As I’ve slowly written this to you over the years I no longer wish to know these things because it is all irrelevant. I do not think it is up to me to try to understand the motives of anyone, much less yours. This is my slow path to forgiveness. I stand firmly right now in the section of acceptance that it has happened.
I hope that your time in prison changes whatever perspective you had on life that caused you to do this. I pray that you become a better man some how, and that you find a way to mend whatever broken pieces exist in your life. I hope you learn to look up to heroes, such as my husband, and gain a new appreciation for them. I pray that you find God, and that he shows you a path to a new life. One of repentance,
I pray that during this time I come to the path of forgiveness. I want it, I’m just not there yet.
Meanwhile, I guess we both remain on a path. Together. A true commonality. One seeks new life, and one seeks absolution.
I began this letter two years ago.
Maybe I’ll be able to forgive you in another two.