2016-the good, the bad and the ugly

As the end of the year hurdles towards us, I can’t help but think (like most folks) about this past year. What pop’s in my head is just what the title of this post says, the good, the bad and the ugly. This year is was one of those defining years. Like a HUGE big, black mark that delineates our liveimg_2016-12-28_11-54-39s from one event to another. Most people understand this and if you don’t, you are one lucky bastard! The Big He and I have been saying that our time together has had many lives. There was the just get married and military life, the civilian life, the life of grieving parents, the life of the Little He, and now the Alpha Lima Sierra life.

The Bad. Needless to say learning the devastating news that the Big He has Alpha Lima Sierra is bad, bad, bad. Like throat punch  ALS bad (thanks again Ronnie, love that). Finding our way through this darkness has been hard. Having to tell the Little He about his dad, was absolutely horrible. I can remember the day, the moment and the look on my baby-boy’s face when he understood what I was saying. BAD! Watching my handsome husband be told he had a disease with no cure and it was a fast progressive disease was…well it ranks up there with telling the boy and losing the babies. Life altering.  This is where we  collectively shout SUCKITALS!

The Ugly. [Yes, I know I am out of order, but want to end on a happy note] The ugly is what you don’t see or what I don’t write about it, until now. The ugly is how this disease has impacted us emotionally. It’s not just bad but ugly. Tempers are on edge because of stress. The Big He has progressed. We see the weakness, the can’t do the things he once did, some choking. We even have seen the ugly head of depression. It has has snuck back in for me. After we lost the babies I became stuck in my grief.  I have lived with depression for many, many years. I was a functional depressed person but depressed none the less. I had anxiety issues and didn’t ever want to leave the house. I would go to work and just be exhausted when I got home. Being with friends was hard. And of course ate my emotions. Depression happens.  I see it now and that is why I have started back to seeing my wonderful therapist to talk through the anxieties and to help me better put things in perspective.

The Big He would always tell me after we lost the babies, when I of course would mutter things like, “breeder” or “dam pregnant woman”, when we would cross paths with families that “I had no idea what their story was or what happens when they shut the door at night”. [Don’t hate and don’t judge.  It just is what it is or is it was what it was?] He was so right. You never know the ugly that happens when the door closes at night. That little nugget of wisdom from my husband has helped me with dealing with others and I find I remind myself of it a lot.

The Good. Finally, right? The good is the living we have done this year. Amazing how when you are told you will die how you all of sudden want to live. I hate that it took Alpha Lima Sierra to get us living. We have done so much this year thanks to family and friends. The high light reel includes: a trip to Washington D.C., a relaxing weekend in Galveston, a ride on an old bomber, a cruise to Mexico, a long overdue reunion with our military family, family birthday’s, our 26th wedding anniversary, fishing in Corsicana and BORA BORA! That’s living. We will continue to live this life to its fullest in 2017 and beyond!

Not sure exactly sure what 2017 has in store but we will deal with the bad of Alpha Lima Sierra, the ugly of what this disease does and the good of living a fuller life.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

All my love and blessings,

The She.

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What we learned in paradise

img_20161203_165226.jpgFirst, let’s just get this over, BORA BORA is the BEST ISLAND! No, really, it is the most beautiful place. The sand is so white and the color of the water…Crayola does not even have a color in their coloring box the color of the water. It was truly a dream vacation and exceeded our expectations. The Bora Bora Pearl Beach Hotel and Spa was incredible as was everyone that worked there. Heck everyone we had the opportunity to meet were amazing. Beautiful island, beautiful people. We even met some great people, new friends from Indiana (Hi Carlos and Maureen).

So what could we have learned, besides that French Polynesia and specifically Bora Bora is an incredible place? Lots!!!

The weeks leading up to the trip, I began to get nervous. Not nervous about how Bora Bora would be but how would the traveling with a wheelchair be? How would the Little He do with such a long trip and being on a place that is really known for honeymooners? Would the Little He enjoy himself?  Would the Big He have problems getting around? Would we actually get a chance to just relax and forget about Alpha Lima Sierra? Would we want to kill each other at the end of the trip with so much “family” time?

Traveling in a wheelchair was not as big of deal as we thought. While the Big He hated being in it, there were some positives. Southwest airlines was amazing. We started in Austin, had a layover in Phoenix and ended up at LAX before transferring to International terminal. Every leg of the way going and coming home was met with wonderful people. Air Tahiti too was great, providing us with anything we needed. Bora Bora was not the best equipped at being handicap friendly like here in the states, but where they lacked accessible sidewalks they fully made up for it with their willingness to help get the Big He in and out of the boat taxi’s, the tour groups accommodating the wheelchair when they clearly were not expecting it. Not as scary as I imagined and I am incredibly proud of the Little He for stepping up and making his dad and I so proud. He truly enjoyed his time on Bora Bora.

The Little He took full of advantage of everything Bora  Bora had to offer. The snorkeling and lagoon activities kept him busy for hours. He was adventurous with his eating trying all kinds of fish and even duck. He was not a fan of the duck, but hdsc_0290e tried it. He has always been a good eater. The Big He likes to say, “if it can’t defend itself, the boy will eat it”. Pretty accurate statement. The boy even did a Polynesian dance. Let’s just say he takes after his Dad and has ZERO rhythm. We were proud none the less. The Little He was wonderful and while we hate that this disease is causing him to grow up faster then we would like, we see hints of the man he is becoming and we are amazed, incredibly proud and just so blessed.

The Big He didn’t have the problems I had imagined. For starters, he was walking by the time the trip rolled around. We had no idea how the progression of this disease would be and if he would be in the chair because he had to or would it be because it just made it easier on him. We didn’t know if he would still be talking or even breathing on his own. Well he still is talking, in fact, if you know the Big He, there was quite a bit of yelling and bitching when his patience was tested. Which it was. Mostly with us I think. He did get tired easily but we knew that was going to hapDSC_0330.JPGpen. When he did get tired, he would kick back and enjoy the Bora Bora scenery and take little naps.   He was able to enjoy snorkeling with me and the Little He, we did several excursions around Bora Bora and he fully enjoyed taking pictures. He got a new camera several years ago and really enjoys photography.

While Alpha Lima Sierra is now part of every moment of our life, we did have time to relax in Bora Bora. We enjoyed the Bora Bora sun on our faces, the coolness of the water and how the sand felt on our feet. We laughed lots. In fact, while not funny immediately, we did laugh at the Big He and I getting stuck in the very tiny elevator at the hotel.  I kept telling the Big He he was just not talking nicely to it. Well, he wasn’t.

So what did we learn in Bora Bora? We learned as a family, we can do anything. Even travel around the world and survive. We learned that we must take advantage of any and all opportunities provided to us. To make memories. Lot’s and lot’s of memories. To trust our instincts as they will guide us correctly when our heads are not in the right place. That sharing this journey with others is something we need to do, we have to do. Awareness about this disease is a must if we are to shed light on it so we can raise money and find a cure and that we are stronger then we think we are. Every day we fight Alpha Lima Sierra, or every dream we chase we are conquering this damn disease.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.  -Nelson Mandela

All my love,

The She.

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Now, for all our friends who didn’t pick up on this, let’s have some fun. Reread this post with a cocktail and drink every time you read, “Bora Bora”. You are welcome!