What a privilege and honor it has been to tell my story and to share my joys and struggles with the world through the “We Keep Moving” project. Never did I realize the impact that it would have on my family, friends and numerous others, most of whom I will never meet.
Telling my story encouraged me to keep moving forward. It would have been easy to give up, to allow others to take care of my basic needs and to stay in my wheelchair. After the cameras left, it seemed like walking was next to impossible without the aid of a walker, crutches or at some point a cane. But I wanted desperately to walk hand in hand with my soul mate, Blake. So instead of giving up, I chose instead to get up and learn to walk again, being the person I so desperately wanted to be. Here’s how it happened:
I awoke one night to use the bathroom and started to get out of the bed. Thankfully, my movements woke up Blake, or he would have found me once again on the floor. Just as I was about to fall, he grabbed the back of my shirt and asked in the sweetest voice, “and just where do you think you are going?” “To the bathroom” was my rough reply, then I sat back down and cried. Was I ever going to be normal again? Blake came around to my side of the bed, gently took my hand in his, and asked me to dance. He helped me back to my feet and gently glided me across the floor to the bathroom, where he waited patiently outside the door.
We then danced back to bed and he tucked me in - it was the beginning of many wonderful dances in the moonlight. Every night we danced and I would sing in his ear, “Can I have this dance for the rest of my life?” It might not have been the most beautiful thing to watch, but I felt like a princess as he danced me to my throne. That was the first step toward my walking unaided.
My daughter soon left for the Navy and I was determined that if she was going through boot camp, then so was I. Every morning I would write her a letter and walk it to the mailbox. Some of those walks took forever, but I did it, one step at a time. If she could do it, I was going to endure the pain as well. Many days I needed a long nap after a short walk to the mailbox, but it was worth it. When she graduated, I stood at her graduation and cried tears of joy. We both had made it.
On April 23, 2010, Blake and I took a walk that had seemed impossible before. We packed our bags and headed to our favorite hiking trail in Letchworth State Park. As we hiked the stairs and hit our spot, we turned to each other and said our vows. What a beautiful day to celebrate life and our ability to overcome the impossible. What a beautiful day to “walk down the aisle” and marry my soul mate.
As this Thanksgiving approaches, my thoughts and thanks go to my family and friends foremost. Thanks for never giving up on me and for pushing me through and cheering me on. I will never take for granted the fact that I can walk again, and I will always rejoice in today.
What are you thankful for this holiday season?