Recently I was listening to my favorite radio talk show host Dennis Prager who was doing his weekly hour on happiness. He was talking about being happy despite tragedy in our lives. This hour especially hit home to me and I wanted so badly to call and share my story with him, but I wasn’t able. Instead I decided that I would blog about what I wanted to share with him.
When I woke up after being medically sedated for almost five weeks I was not a happy person. In the first days that I can remember, I was scared, confused, and VERY angry. I didn’t completely understand what had happened and I really didn’t understand why this had happened to ME. I wanted so badly to see my son who at the time was 5 weeks old. I wanted things to progress much faster than they were and more than anything I wanted to just be able to walk or move on my own. For about two weeks whenever I was awake with no doctors or visitors I would just sit and stare. Mainly at the two pictures of my son and the date on the board that was located on the wall in front of me. Adam would ask me if I wanted to watch tv or read a book and my answer was always no. I wanted to sleep as much as I possibly could and I never wanted the blinds of my room open to let the sunlight in. For the first time in my life I was severally depressed and as most people told me, it was rightfully so. By the time I was moved to Frazier I was doing better, but I was still in a major depression. I had picked up watching my favorite shows and was allowing the blinds open at certain times, but I still felt trapped in my body and very very angry. There were many times that my family expressed God’s role in miraculously healing me and while I wasn’t bitter with God, I wasn’t sure exactly where I stood with him at that point.
While I had been in the hospital, Adam’s grandfather had been at home dying. It was a gradual process that started before I became sick and worsened tremendously while I was sick. During my first few days at Frazier Adam asked my doctors if it would be possible for me to leave the hospital for an hour or two to visit him. Adam and his family knew that he probably wouldn’t make it until I got out and after several days of constant pestering, all my doctors agreed. It was set for me to leave the hospital for a few hours between my morning and afternoon therapy sessions. I spent my morning session with a big grin on my face practicing walking up and down steps since there were 20 steps between me and seeing Papa once I got to the house. At 11:45, once both my morning sessions were over, Adam got my wheelchair and took me to our truck in the parking garage. While Adam put the wheelchair in the back of the truck I crawled in and for the first time in over seven weeks I was outside of the hospital. Sitting in that truck I was overcome with emotions. I almost cried just being able to be in it again. We pulled out of the parking garage and it was one of the most beautiful days I can ever remember. It was the middle of March and a perfect spring day. The sky was an amazing blue spotted with white puffy clouds. All the trees were green and blossoming and the tulips had just started to make their debut.
I wish everyone could experience what I experienced that day. I remember telling Adam that the colors seemed more vibrant than I ever remembered and I swore I could smell the flowers on the side of the road while we were driving past them. I LOVED seeing all the people in their cars and walking down the street just living their lives. I couldn’t take deep breaths to soak it all in. Life gave me a big smack in the face during that short trip and it was so exhilarating. I had a wonderful visit with Papa and Landon for a little over an hour. I got to see my son with a man that has influenced my life in so many ways and it made me so unbelievably happy. After an hour visit it was back to Frazier and while I didn’t want to go back I was even more determined to get better and try harder. I was forever changed. That afternoon I decided to stop sleeping during my breaks, I decided to reconcile with my situation, and I decided to stop being angry. It was the biggest turning point in my recovery. I say this, because I realized nothing really mattered if I couldn’t appreciate life. Whatever it was like, it was life. We drove back to the hospital with the windows down enjoying the beauty of the day in ways I had never had before.
So many people talk to me about my grief and how it is ok for me to be depressed and take time to grieve all my losses, but there was no loss. There is nothing for me to grieve. Yes, awful terrible things happened that I would not wish on my worst enemy, but what I have learned and come away with supersedes all pain, suffering and loss that I experienced. I’m not going to lie; I still have moments where I can become overcome with sadness. Missing the first nine weeks of my Son’s life will never get easier to think about. Seeing all the scars on my body from surgeries and equipment used to save my life still makes me want to crawl into a hole. But, I choose to not dwell on those things. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I have a husband that gave more of himself to me in the last 6 months than most people would see in ten lifetimes. I have a beautiful little boy who is the epitome of happiness and all that is good in this world. I have friends and family that are nothing short of amazing. I saw the goodness and kindness of strangers in ways that still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Life is beautiful in so many ways and it was just waiting for me to open my eyes and see that.
If I had not had a turning point that day, I honestly do not know where I would be today. So many people have told me how strong I am and that’s what got me through this, but that is not true. Call it what you want, God, the beauty of Spring, Papa leaving a little of himself with me that day, but I was awakened in a way that I wish I could give to anyone struggling with depression, loss and sadness that they cannot overcome. Dennis Prager says we have a moral obligation to be happy, but it shouldn’t feel like an obligation. No matter what awful, horrible, traumatizing things have happened to us we STILL have no reason not to be happy. We just have to open our eyes to see the good of everything including the good parts of awful things. We just need that one day to realize the beauty of life, because if you are here to experience life in whatever form it comes in, it is beautiful and we should all be happy to experience it.