Journal Entry: April 22, 2005
Another day. I feel as if I have been at this hospital for 2 years instead of 2 weeks. Scotty continues to make progress but it is a very slow process. Improvements from last week includes he is more mobile in bed, put his own shirt on, more talkative, and smiles. However, I know it is so hard for him not to see, I can’t’ even imagine. I try to stay positive with him and encouraging, I don’t know how much he takes in or appreciates but maybe someday he will be thankful.
Have you ever felt like you were trying to stand while you were crumbling on the inside? Have you tried to stand strong in the place of the unknown and doubt and a place where everyone is filling you with negativity?
I’m so sorry Mrs. Smiley, we did everything we could.
I have no idea how this is going to turn out.
I’m so sorry, Mrs. Smiley, I have never seen a case this bad.
There is no way he can stay in the Army, your husband is blind in both eyes, we don’t know how else to get you to understand this, there has NEVER been a blind person in the Army.
Mrs. Smiley, please adhere to our visitation hours.
Mrs. Smiley, we have never had a spouse stay during blind rehabilitation.
Well ladies, I’m here to tell you that I have been there, I have had to stand on many occasions while I was literally crumbling on the inside.
I had no idea what was next, all I really knew is that I had a God in heaven who promised that no bad thing could touch me without his approval and I had a man whom I had promised to love in good times and in bad. I also had a crinkly old hospital bed in a desolate corner of the rehab facility and 7 protein bars to last me a week, it was enough to keep me going.
These memories are seared in my heart and mind. I stood and rejected the odds and the facts and moved in my own way, against all reason, I believed Scotty could be so much more than everything I was hearing and seeing. I was scared out of my mind, I had no idea what the future would hold, what it would be like, I only had prayer and a choice not to give up, even though there were so many days I wanted to. There was no instant gratification in all those steps of showing up everyday, it was a long slow road until we saw any hope or goodness come from the turmoil we were facing.
I remember being alone with Scotty for the first time after the injury, all our friends and family had left and gone back to their normal lives; it was the most scared I had ever been. I wished and wanted my Mom or Scotty’s Mom to permanently stay with us. I didn’t want to be alone on the journey ahead, I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew it was going to be the hardest road I’d ever travelled. I was completely overwhelmed as we loaded onto a military flight to take us to the West Coast for rehab. I managed to pack up all our stuff and load it, I walked Scotty (who was barely walking at the time) onto a big white bus and a military guy came by and asked us a few questions, he was nice, but I remember just wanting to crumble and cry, I wanted to wake up from this terrible dream.
Scotty and I were mostly silent during these times, I looked out the window of the bus and tears rolled down my face, Scotty did not know and I did not want him too, he was quiet himself. A new transition, just us. Standing while crumbling. After being in California for about a month, I went home for the first time since we left to the hospital in Washington DC to take a break, it was only 3 days away from it all, away from the tragedy and mess, but let me tell you, I did not want to go back, my Mom had to convince me that I had to go back. It was awful and heart wrenching, but I knew I had to keep standing, even as my knees were shaking from the weight of it all and as everything in me and around me was crumbling to the ground.
I went back to Scotty and my “new life” and we both just kept showing up everyday, it was not always our best, but it was all we could muster. I’m so glad neither of us quit.
What are you facing today? Are you fighting the urge to quit and throw in towel? Today I encourage you to keep going and keep fighting, trust me when I say that one day soon you will be able to stand without crumbling. Looking back, I’m so glad I stood and showed Scotty that life was worth living, I’m so glad that I believed against all reason and listened to my gut, that I showed up even when I did not know what to do. I’m so glad I kept my tears a secret from Scotty and prayed alone with my God, I showed up everyday to make him feel whole and complete.
And I’ve been honored to stand by his side while I’ve watched this amazing man go on to become the US Army’s first blind active duty officer, first blind company commander, finish Duke Fuqua School of Business, receive his MBA, write a book, launch a business, climb Mt Rainier and Denali, finish an Ironman and win ESPN’s Best Outdoor Athlete award, along with countless other awards. I’m so glad we never quit even when we wanted to.
Stand wherever you are today.