(from right) Beckett, Brody and Blythe - March 2011
Slowly, steadily, the pieces are coming back together.
On the best of days, the events of February seem behind us. Days are slipping in a normal routine. Our minds grow healthier. I’ve been back in a steady workout plan. I’ve modified my diet to a probably even healthier place than I was during training for the last Ironman. Heidi has recently joined me in both the workout, and the eating plan.
Beckett and Brody are happy. There is lots of laughter again here.
And in many ways, I’m stronger now. We’re all stronger now.
You learn from distance and time. You’re able to dissect the many complicated emotions and thoughts you experienced. One of the first steps of healing for me, I know, was acknowledging to myself just how scared I was; just how serious Beckett’s bout with Guillain-Barre was. Full body paralysis; internal organs starting to shut down. … You know, in the middle of all that, I just kept telling myself it was going to be alright. I never let myself experience the real deep, dark fear that I’ve since learned was there.
Last Saturday, we went to the Guillain-Barre Society’s Arizona chapter’s annual gathering. They do a walk called the Miracle Mile, at which survivors walk a mile at their own pace. For many of the survivors, it’s a miracle they can walk the mile.
Meanwhile, Beck is running around with a few of the other childhood survivors who have made a complete recovery. Some children, though, walk with canes and assistance. Some, we learned Saturday, get a chronically reoccurring form of the syndrome.
The adults, meanwhile, who have lived through GBS, are all miracles in themselves. We sat, and listened, as they told their stories; both of their darkest days, and the ongoing recovery. Several years later, survivors still walk with canes, or walkers. They experience numbness, pain, loss of simple motor function, like the ability to open a jar.
Like many things through this journey, it served as a reminder as to what’s important – being able to walk, breathe, be by your family’s side – and what’s not (i.e. most of the stuff we think is).
If there’s one thing that’s changed about me in the last three months, it’s what I want, at the core. I want to be with my family. I want to enjoy every moment I can of the gift – our life, Beckett’s and Brody’s childhood, each beautiful day.
I can stare that emotion – that deep, dark fear I talked about – in the face. And I can remember, now I can say, what I prayed for: “Please don’t take my son, God. Please don’t take my son. I’m not ready. He’s not ready.”
He’s only 6. And Brody’s only 4. But in some way, each day now that Beckett, Brody, Heidi and I are together, and happy, and eating a meal, or reading a book, or sitting in the living room together, feels like a giant miracle; and the greatest gift a man could be given.
It fills me with joy. The kind of joy no job, no paycheck, no European vacation could provide.
That fear fuels me now, too. I know it could come back. Or something else could strike.
That’s just the way it is.
I’ve accepted it; and acted on it.