Your Emergency Row Ambassador
|I'm proud of this person.This handsome husband of a person.|
(And slightly annoyed at the creepster behind him)
So there I was, only a few hours ago, having my third cup of coffee in bed. I was jumping around on the internet, paying bills, catching up with the world and sending out a few texts to fill some silent voids among friends.
Feeling good this morning and this day. It was dark and cozy in my room. The sun was up but muffled by the rain. Today's rain is okay. I bought chairs for our patio last night. Coffee on the patio during morning rain showers? Yes please and thank you.
Excited to start the day. It would soon be time to wake the husband.
I then get a text back from a friend I had checked on: "What do you all have planned for tomorrow?"
It's amazing what a date on a calendar can do. The power it has. The tone it carries.
I guess I've been so busy I haven't realized how far in August we already are. (Don't worry, friend. I would have realized it at some point today.)
My stomach has been doing flippies all morning ever since. Hot mess. Too much damn coffee.
Tomorrow at 2:30pmish.
Two years ago.
A text I received while on my way to work would begin the process of unraveling what has happened.
It was too soon to tell if it was permanent. That news would not come on this day. Monday, August 8, 2011.
The last time Jimmy walked. The last time he drove a vehicle.
Just like that.
I've been telling our story a lot lately, especially to some extended family who has never had the chance to ask me certain questions.
They ask: Were you alone? I hate the thought that you were alone.
I swear there was some master schedule floating around that had our dear co-workers signed up in shifts. Also, there was always food. Always. I think it made people happy to see I was eating.
And so I ate. And ate. Almost a little of everything people brought me. Sometimes all of it. It was how I could say Thanks.
I don't ever remember thinking that I couldn't do this. Not once did I ever consider leaving. I knew it was going to be hard, whatever IT was. Nobody really knew, but I could see it on the doctor's faces. They couldn't say it just yet. But I knew we were in for something big.
Here we are. Two years later.
We are in a good place. We are sleeping well. Waking up in good moods. Feeling comfort in our routine. Upset less. Crying less. Dwelling less.
Except for today. Today and tomorrow I will allow myself to cry, be upset and dwell. I will mourn our old life.
I will think about the things we used to do. The places we used to go. The short-lived time in our new apartment. The afterglow of our recent exchange of marriage vows. I will think about the bounce in Jimmy's step. I will think about how good of a photographer he was and how he loved the work he did, genuinely. I will think about the amazing food he used to make me. I will allow myself to think about all of this, and to miss it.
But I won't stay there for too long. I will come back to current day and be happy about how strong we have gotten. I feel stronger than I ever have.
I recently flew to Ohio and back. On the flight home, my seat was taken by a man who wanted to sit next to the rest of his family. It was fine because there was a whole row of empty seats in which I sat: the emergency exit row.
The flight attendant asked me to verbally accept the responsibility of sitting there. I thought: probably nothing will happen, and I get all this leg room! Woooo!
But if something did happen, I would be the person you would want sitting in that row. I would love nothing more than to be your Emergency Row Ambassador. I would rock that shit. I find myself paying attention now to how to properly put on the oxygen masks. I was no longer awkwardly shying away from the routine flight attendant presentation as if to frightfully reject the notion that something would ever happen.
Sometimes I feel I can lift Jimmy's 400-pound chair if needed.
I am happy to report I have come out on the other side a little stronger. I know this doesn't happen for everyone in our position.
Jimmy has taken on a whole new level of adjustment that you nor I will ever understand. I can't imagine being trapped inside your own body. Not being able to move. What does that feel like?
How does he not breakdown everyday? This is why I admire him. This is why he inspires me. This is why I chose the steps, not the elevator when I'm running errands on my own. This is why I do things simply because I physically can. I wear myself ragged most days -- JUST BECAUSE I CAN.
I cut Jimmy's fingernails, shave him and cut his hair at the end of an exhausting day of unpacking. Because I know he would like to do it if he could.
Life has a back-handed way of making us realize that we are two very lucky people.
Because tomorrow, we will celebrate two years of living when death could have easily happened that day.
I have my rock. He is sitting across from me at this very moment. We are sitting on our new patio, breathing in the humid air. Thankful for every goddamn breath.
I don't even see his chair anymore. I don't see the injury hardly ever until I see it on the face of someone else.
I would pick this life a million times over versus a life with no him.
Fuck you, crash. You will not win.
We do. We win.