Monday, January 30, 2012

Introducing "Love Like This Life"

Love Like This Life
by
Dana Brown Ritter

Hey y'all! Shannon and I have become blog/Facebook friends over the last year or so, thanks to a random Google search.  And I'm so happy to have this opportunity to share about my life, and the blog I write with my husband, www.lovelikethislife.com
 

My husband Michael and I were married in a beautiful beach wedding on the North Carolina coast, Labor Day weekend, 2009.

 

I had always dreamed of marrying on the beach. I wasn't sure, when the time came for me to get married, if I would be able to pull it off on the beach.  Because the man I fell in love with, the man who made me a little movie slideshow, and played in in front of a big fountain in Washington DC at night, and asked me if I would make memories with him for the rest of our lives, that man is in a wheelchair.

 

When Michael was 17, he broke his neck in a gymnastics accident on a church youth group missions trip.  Because of this, he's paralyzed from the chest down, and has limited use of his arms, and no use of his hands.

 

We got to know each other because of a chance e-mail in the beginning days of the internet.  We kept in touch via e-mail for 8 YEARS before we admitted to each other that there may be something there. You could say we took our time. More like God took HIS time!

 

Several airplane trips later, we were engaged, and a few more airplane trips after that was that dream wedding I mentioned.

 

When we got back from our honeymoon, I started a new job as the White House Producer for CBN News (Christian Broadcasting Network). This was not only an answer to prayer, but a dream come true! Well, more than one dream actually! I had always dreamed of covering the White House, and here I was, doing it!  I stood in the East Room as the first living Medal of Honor recipient was pinned since Vietnam. I stood on the South Lawn as the President of China was welcomed.  I had a seat in the White House Briefing Room.  My life was feeling very "West Wing." And I loved it.

 

Behind the scenes, though, I was struggling.  My new boss and co-workers had no idea that I was getting up between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning, so that I could take care of all of my husbands needs before I embarked on my nearly two hour commute to work.  I would get up, take care of the dogs, stretch my husband's legs, transfer him to his shower chair, help him go to the bathroom and bathe him, dress him, transfer him to his wheelchair, fix us breakfast, then get myself ready for work. Then, walk to the bus stop, ride the bus to the metro, the train to DC, stop at Starbucks, then walk in the office at about 6:30am.  Exhausted.  But thrilled to be there, and with a smile on my face.

 

This pace almost killed me.  I lost 30 pounds without trying. (That part was nice.) My hair started falling out, and I found myself very emotionally unstable.

 

I remember breaking down on New Year's Eve.  We had been married just a couple of months.  I had been so looking forward to being together, and living happily ever after.  And, Michael had an accident, I cleaned him up and realized he had a small pressure sore.  I felt completely overwhelmed.  He needed to stay in the bed, to stay off of his sore.  So, I cleaned the house, cooked for him, helped him eat in the bed (at that time we did not have a bed that sat up).  Then, he fell asleep before midnight, and I watched Dick Clark ring in 2010, and I sat up in bed alone, crying.

 

It was one of the lowest places I had ever been.

It was about that time, that we started the blog.

I just poured myself out onto it.

All of the emotions, the guilt, the feeling of being overwhelmed.  The good things too, like the happy times we were enjoying as Newlyweds, and all of the new things I was learning to do in the kitchen.

 

Michael really stepped it up, and started doing more on his own.  We sought some counseling.  I started hearing from people who were reading my blog, and got to know some other couples out there, in similar situations as us. I suddenly didn't feel so alone.

I felt like maybe I CAN do this? Little by little, the strength came back, I believed in myself again, and I gained all that weight back.

 

And little by little, my faith in the Lord was patched back up, sustained, and is now finally in a place of growth again.  It is wonderful to be on this side of the mountain.  I am now embracing my role as a wife and a caregiver and as a career woman, living out her dreams.

 

I now know that it is possible to be happy and sad at the same time.  I have gone through the grief process, and now life is so much better, and is generally filled with a lot of acceptance.

 

I don't know how I would have done it without the blog. And now, God is using us and our blog, and we are just thrilled.  We are hearing from more and more couples that are going through that dark season we went through, and not that I want anyone to go through disability – but once you realize that you an make it through – you realize that you can do anything.  And that's a feeling I will happily lead other couples to have.

 

Thank you so much for taking time to read our story. Follow along on our life on our blog: www.lovelikethislife.com

2 comments:

  1. Amazing story. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Joyce for reading. :) It is an amazing story.

    ReplyDelete