I Have Never Had a Bad Year
In 1998 I left a job I loved and was great at. It was a job where I made a difference. I touched lives and lives touched me. I left that job in 1998 to work on a marriage doomed from day one. The marriage lasted only few short months and ended with me in the middle of a frozen field in middle America daring her to end my life with the tire iron she had already struck me several times with. I walked away broken in my heart and body. I literally had nothing tangible left in my life. 1998 was a good year.
In 1999 my second parents died. Jim and Janet were always there for me when I was growing up. No matter what was happening in my house I knew I could go there and all would be peaceful. Janet had taken care of my like one of her own. I never forgot to visit her years after I moved out of that alley on 17th Street. Even after becoming a police officer I would go visit her and Jim. In 1999 Janet was very sick and was in the hospital. Jim was supposed to go on a fishing trip with my Dad and I. Janet told Jim to make the trip because he could do nothing for him there. He made the trip with us and stayed drunk with sadness and fear the entire week…except for our last night on the trip. He stayed back at the hotel with my Dad, instead of hitting the bar with the group, and they stayed sober and discussed life. Jim was worried what would happen to his daughter if he and Janet passed. She was an adult but needed her parents for various reasons both in and out of her control. We came home on a Sunday and Janet died that night. We buried Janet on a Wednesday and Jim died that night. We buried Jim a couple of days later. I went to two funerals in a matter of a couple of days and watched their family dwindle away before my eyes. Jim’s oldest son took care of his sister. 1999 was a good year.
In 2003 my wife was in a horrible car accident. She was hit from behind in front of our house. She needed dozens of stitches inside her head, staples on the outside, and a couple of stitches on top of all that. It was the night before Hurricane Isabel. The hospital sent nearly everyone home due to the storm. I stayed awake that night, the next day as the hurricane pounded our home, and the next day. The day after the storm I had to take her back to the hospital. Rescue was not responding because of a huge after storm backlog. My wife had no idea where she was. I loaded her in the car and tried to keep her upright in her seat as I negotiated roads covered in trees, fences, and other debris. She lost several weeks memory and work. She still does not remember the wreck. The blood in the back seat of our less than one week car was thick as syrup. She very easily could have died. We had a lawsuit on our hands. 2003 was a good year.
In 2004 my wife and I got pregnant. I was through the ceiling with pride and joy. I told everyone and a week later we lost the baby. My wife had people ask her for weeks how the pregnancy was going. We were destroyed and as challenged as a young marriage could be. We soon began a journey through infertility. A young marriage with huge challenges. Both the car accident and miscarriage occurred on consecutive September’s. We still fear September. 2004 was a good year.
In 2005 the baby chase began. We were faced with failures and set backs from every angle. We were both told we had issues that created our shared problem. We rode an emotional rollercoaster all the way into 2007. We lost another baby and we eventually gave up. Those were good years.
Life is not easy and is not always served to you like a great dessert. Sometimes when you drink life’s milk you get a sour taste. In 2008 my wife had an epiphany and told me she wanted one more shot at having a baby. We went through an IVF cycle and got pregnant. A few months in and we were showing signs of losing the baby. The doctor said there was nothing they could do and they told her to go home and rest until the next morning and we would go to the doctor to face the inevitable. We were crestfallen and could not look at each other in the doctor’s office. She was sad and felt guilty and I was crushed for her. At that doctor’s appointment we heard my daughters heartbeat for the first time. I ran outside and called my friend Wayne and then our parents in that order. She would be on bedrest for another 7 to 8 months but in the end Emma was born. 2008 was a great year.
It is easy to remember the bad things in life and dwell on them. Bad times are like rain clouds they cover up the true beauty all around us. As long as you have a breath in your lungs there is the chance tomorrow is going to be a better day. If it were not for my first marriage I would not appreciate my present marriage. If it were not for Jim and Janet I would not have learned many great life lessons and seen a love so strong that they literally could not live without each other. A shared pursuit filled with pain and doubt strengthens a couple and gives them a child. Life is not easy but it is damn sure worth living. I have had bad days but I have never had a bad year. I love my wife, my daughter, my life, and you. Remember the good and learn from the bad but never lose sight of the gift of another day.