Large family photos like this one are often captioned with something sweet like “All because two people fell in love”. But let’s cut the crap. This family looks like it does because of a lot more than two people falling in love. It was love, sex, babies and one broken condom fifteen years later to complete our original family of five. Add in husbands, wives, ex-wives, more sex and babies to create the grandchild generation spanning 17 years and voila! This is what you’re left with. But I suppose—however honest—that caption doesn’t set the same sweet tone. But families are complicated.
Six months after my accident, my son started a new school. I knew nobody—truthfully, I wasn’t certain I knew myself yet inside this new body and new reality. My son was understandably nervous to make a change, but I was terrified. Many people who experience sudden disability say it shows you who your true friends are. They lose people. That never happened to me. Everyone I loved, showed up for me and my family. I didn’t want to meet anyone new. I was different now—obvious—a bit of a mystery, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to unravel all of that with strangers. And any parent can tell you that the drama within the social circles of the adults can sometimes rival that of the children. So to say the least, my anxiety was heightened as my son and I both found ourselves in new territory.
I’m holding a grudge against Easter and I’m trying to decide if it is justified or dramatic. Spoiler alert: writing this helped me figure it out. Everyone always says that the firsts will be hard when dealing with grief – especially holidays and traditions. And that first year was definitely quite brutal. Every holiday, birthday and season brought about change in how I could partake in the celebrations and events that have always been highlights in my year. But Easter was significant. Easter came just a couple of weeks after my accident and ‘different’ doesn’t really even begin to describe how that first holiday post-injury went down. And even though this last Sunday was the third Easter since my accident I still had a really hard time planning and preparing for it. I still struggle to find the holiday spirit that, in the past, came so easily.
A lot of people seem think that three kids constitutes a big family. I suppose by 2018 standards it does (especially when mom and dad are just breaking into their thirties). I always wanted a large family and it isn’t a secret that I’m still trying to cope with the idea that I won’t have any more children. While some people end up with large families somewhat accidentally, others find their way there with purpose and intent. One of my main purposes in having multiple children was to give them the shared experiences of childhood. The large age gap between my older siblings and me meant that I grew up, essentially, as an only child. My mom and I were very close and my childhood was wonderful but I always wondered what it would have been like to venture through those early stages of life alongside a sibling. I didn’t want my children to have to carry their childhood memories alone but instead share them with someone. I never thought that some of those memories could be ones from which they need to heal.
The following post is one that I wrote six months before my accident. As I read it back tonight it took on a very different meaning than what was originally intended. When I first wrote it I believed I was talking to myself 20 years or so in the future. Little did I know that, 6 months later, t -hese would be the moments and the memories that would drive my recovery and my fight to get home. A good “throwback Thursday” reminder to look for the special moments in the everyday. You never know when you might just long for ordinary.
We are home! We returned from our trip to Disneyland just over a week ago and I’m already suffering from California withdrawal (the unseasonably freezing-cold weather and isolated flurries here at home are not helping!). I was pleasantly surprised that our trip went so smoothly. We were all good and exhausted by the time we got home; you don’t go to Disneyland to relax. The trip was wonderful! Being able to still have these special vacations and memories with my family means the world to me. I’m excited to give you the rundown on our little getaway.