From the moment I first rushed to his side in the ICU through the months following the assault, I never let Nate see me cry. I could see in his eyes that he needed me to be strong for him, and so I was. When watching him fight for his life or struggle to get through a day was too much for me, I’d excuse myself to a hallway or a closet. I’d crumple into a ball, burying my face in my hands to keep the crying quiet.
But I never, ever let him see me. I’d compose myself, wash my face, take a deep breath as though it had to last me until the next release, and I’d put on a smile. And although it was hard, I know – even to this day – that it wasn’t a fake smile. It was a smile that said, “I love you,” and “we’ve got this,” and “I’m here by your side no matter what”!
Because no matter how hard the moment was, I truly believed that. I had to!
During the summer of 2013, however, Nate had an appointment with the neurosurgeon who had so skillfully removed the shank from his neck. Nate was doing well, although the numbness below his waist was still greatly bothering him. He likened it to having that part of his body fall asleep, only he couldn’t wake it up. There was only the faintest of sensations, sometimes accompanied by pins and needles; and it made even sleeping difficult. His biggest question for the doctor was what could be done to help ease this.
I’m not sure what we were expecting, but I guess we hoped that there was a new miracle drug. Or maybe the doctor would look at the MRI and snap his fingers in glee, telling Nate that a minor surgery – or maybe even exercises – could help alleviate the numbness. We were very optimistic and so the surgeon’s sad shaking of his head caught us off guard.
There’s nothing I can do. The doctor was so apologetic, obviously wishing that he could promise us more. The nick beside the spine can’t be fixed. That’s permanent. I’m sorry.
Nate paused a moment, staring at his feet, then quietly said, “It’s not my leg that bothers me so much. I mean, it does… But… We want to have kids…”
The doctor sighed. I’m sorry. If it doesn’t heal within the next year, it will be permanent.
The numbness below Nate’s waist had stolen intimacy from our marriage; and at 30 years old, we were being told that we’d probably never get it back. We wouldn’t be able to have kids without assistance. We’d never again make love.
Nate and I walked back to our car in silence, the weight of everything sinking in. He sighed, looked up at the sky, and said, “Please, God, don’t take that away from me.”
For the first time since the assault, I let him see me cry, because – in that moment – there was nothing I could do to hold it back. I buried my face in his chest, and I let the sobs rack my body. I couldn’t be strong anymore. This was too much, and so we just stood there in the quiet parking garage and held onto each other. I cried for all that Nate had gone through already and for the pain that I knew he was facing right now.
They say that God never gives you more than you can handle… That God knows the desires of our hearts. I believe both, and I also like to think that God had a plan for our story. That He rewards faith (although sometimes His plans are not our own). And I believe that even before conception, God had a plan for Brady’s life; and an attack in a prison wasn’t strong enough to change that.
Because while Nate’s leg is still completely numb, the numbness in his waste lowered as though sinking with each passing month. With each fervent prayer that we prayed. With every single prayer that our prayer warrior friends were sending up to the heavens on our behalf.
And although Nate is still limited in what he can do with that leg, intimacy was restored back to our marriage.
The nick in the spinal chord never healed. The nerves that were damaged still show damage in the MRI. His leg is still numb. But that one miracle we still needed in order to heal and move on to a bright future was given to us. Because not only are we able to truly be husband and wife in every sense of the word, but we were also able to have the baby we longed for.
This all came flooding back the other day, as I was watching Nate cuddle our seven month old baby boy. A rush of emotions hit me, as I realized that my life could look so different. I could be surrounded by wheelchair ramps and visiting nurses. I could be a widower.
God not only blessed me by giving me more time with Nate, but He also blessed us with our miracle baby. I fall asleep in my husband’s arms at night and am greeted by the brightest of baby smiles every morning, all because miracles come true. Because sometimes, even when things seem to be at their worst, God is working all things together for good.
In reality, I shouldn’t be able to kiss my baby boy’s head and feel his hair – like peach fuzz – tickle my lips. I shouldn’t smell peaches on soft baby skin after bathtime. I shouldn’t fix myself morning coffee to the sound of Sesame Street, as Brady and Nate watch morning cartoons. I shouldn’t spend my afternoons with a little man and his daddy who are my entire world.
But I do. I do every single day. And I hope that I never, ever take this for granted. Because this almost wasn’t… And I am so very grateful to God that it is. 🙂