I spent some time tonight in Andy’s chair. I came home from work and he was in bed, so I sat down on his chair (like I normally do) and we chatted about our day. He recently got a new cushion and I was testing it out, before taking off to the kitchen and driving into some walls along the way. Andy loves to see me fail at driving it as he succeeds so well, but I feel like I’ll let him away with that one. I then suggested I make the dinner from the chair and he was all for it, laughing at me as if to say you’ll never cope. I definitely cheated a little, taking off the foot plates for more space and a smaller turning circle but it was still a challenge. There were things I just couldn’t reach and other stuff that I hurt myself trying to get.
I would like to think that I am pretty aware of “wheelchair life” and the struggles he faces but I’ve never been able to have any understanding of how I would feel in that position, always stating “I’d have no idea how I could do it”. Now, I am FULLY aware that I barely scratched the surface and only moved between two rooms, but that was kinda tough. I felt so sad when I had to just admit that I couldn’t reach something. Sad in that moment for me but mainly knowing that that is how he feels everyday.
On reflection tonight, I found myself coming back to the same conversation I am seeing online and having with people recently. I am pretty sure we have all looked on at someone in life and thought “oh man, their life is tough”. With this often comes perspective and reflection on our own lives and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you stop and tell someone that you are inspired by the way they have kept going through the hard times or mention that you can see life is really tough and you are praying for them- that is ok; that is positive. However, where it does start to not be ok, is when we share that perspective we just had, as no matter how you put it, you basically say “wow, I thought my life was tough until I met you. You’re life sucks!” Here’s the thing, we all mean well and it was never meant to be an insult, but who is the comment benefiting? I know that when we’re having a really good day, we don’t want to hear and be reminded that we probably should be stressed or worrying. We don’t want to focus on the negative when we have woken up positive; we don’t want to be broken down again.
I am not bringing this up based on any specific event that has happened to us, and please know that if you have said something similar to myself or Andy, we are not annoyed at you. We know people mean so well and, in life we also struggle to find the right words to say to others, but I have definitely learnt to try and think before I speak, asking myself, “is this helpful” or “will this bring them joy”. If the answer is no, then why say it.
While we are here, I may as well address another point. To most of you (I’m sure), you will be shocked but if it stops even one person from repeating these words, it will be worth it. I’ve got it a few times (I know others have too): “You are so good for staying with him.” At first I tried to shield Andy from this- we were at a family wedding when this bombshell was dropped on me, along with a justification as to why I could very easily have just gone back on all my vows and ditched the man I love most in the whole entire world. The man I prayed endlessly for and the one who made me the happiest girl when he held my hand in ICU for the first time again. As if leaving him would somehow make my life better. Andy was actually sitting about 2 metres away at the time and I responded with “look at him, he’s so crazy handsome!”. I don’t think I had any other words and I knew I needed to let it go, but then it happened again, and again. Even now, I do not have the words. I don’t feel the need to justify to a stranger why I love my husband so much, but I also don’t have the energy to tell her how much she has just insulted him. I almost feel like I am insulting him by even talking about it. Andy knows, he has overheard and if he wasn’t the most laid back person in the world he would maybe have been bothered by it, but I am bothered. And I suppose I’d love to clear this up for all the wives, girlfriends, children, boyfriends, husbands and parents who care for their loved ones.
“Staying” was never a thing. It was never a decision that needed to be made. I used to have conversations with my friends about how I move forward when Andy dies. How do I EVER think about finding someone else when he is the only one I want.
Before Andy’s accident he was a 26 year old man, who loved Jesus, motorbikes, puppies, Harry Potter, tattoos, football, rugby and most importantly, his smokin hot wife! The only thing that has changed here is his age, and maybe the degree of hotness his wife holds. Just because life looks different, does not mean that he is. Okay yes, we’ve both definitely changed a good bit, but that is down to the journey we have been on and how we look at life. People used to always warn me that Andy will more than likely have undergone a personality change, caused by the brain injury and I was a little worried as I waited for it to be revealed. It happened one day when we were in the house. He was checking himself out in the mirror and just looked at me and asked “why?”. I thought for a second as I finally figured it out- his personality change is the fact that he LOVES himself. Like I really do mean that, I catch him staring at himself all the time, if I stand between him and the lift mirror he freaks out and all of a sudden he is giving me fashion advice! Andrew Harris!! (Okay, so I just read this to him and he is adamant I let you know he is joking about how much he loves himself but I just don’t know about that!)
I really do promise that I will supply you with an Andy update soon- life, health, prayer requests etc. That just seems like quite the task right now so I am putting it off. But we are so thankful for the continued love, support and prayers from you all. This journey would definitely be harder without the kind words of encouragement we get from so many of you everyday. I have highlighted a couple of maybe quite negative points and I really don’t love doing that at all. I do however know how thick skinned we can be, and know that the next person may not. So if we can do anything to protect them and ultimately help educate others, then I hope we achieve that.
“I am my beloved’s and he is mine” Songs of Solomon 6:3