I read a letter this morning written by my husband that made me cry. I felt a dam burst deep within me and years of repressed sadness came flooding out that didn't stop until my bruised soul ran dry. Seven years of tightly coiled, vacuum-packed sadness unleashed in a tidal wave of sobbing and tears.
The letter was a simple application for a grant to purchase a mobility scooter. My husband had to supply some background information of the injuries that lead to his disability in order for a decision to be made. It was a summary of the past 25 years and was so poignant that my heart burst on reading it, despite knowing his story, despite living it with him for the past seven years. Somehow seeing it all in his own words on paper made it so much more heartbreaking and I was overwhelmed with feelings of loss and sadness and the rawness of a life lived in pain.
I cannot reproduce the letter in full, with the details of how his injuries were sustained, the years of pain, subsequent surgery, his relationship breakdown and the emotional trauma he went through, it is too personal to my husband but with his permission I am sharing the part of it that covers his life with me:
"In 2006 I was lucky enough to meet my devoted wife. She is profoundly deaf and so we have an understanding of disability that has led to a deep bond and compassion for each other. We have been blessed with 3 beautiful children who are now 5 and a half, 4 and 15 months.
"Unfortunately since 2006 I have declined rapidly with a collapsing spine above my fusion and arthritis spreading throughout my body requiring a operation on my right shoulder and partial knee (oxford) replacements of both knees.
"My declining ability to walk led to a wheelchair and referral to a specialist hospital where I have recently undergone 2 major operations one week apart to jack up and fuse my spine at L3, and to revise, decompress and re-fuse my lower spine and then link the 2 fusions together with bone graft. I believe that the objective of lessening my pain and dependence on opioid painkillers has been achieved but I will probably only ever be able to walk a few paces on crutches.
"I would like to be able to purchase a mobility scooter capable of taking me along seaside paths and local bridleways. In the past I have been unable to be part of my family as I have forced to sit on a bench and say 'see you in an hour or so' as my children run off with my wife for a walk along the beachfront.
"We have been forced to sell what little assets we had and procure a loan in order to pay for live-in help for a few months to enable my wife to have major internal surgery related to child birth (May 2013) and then for me to have my operations in July this year.
"At present I am learning to take a few steps with the aid of crutches, back brace and knee braces (my knee replacements have partially failed due to muscle wastage as a result of the spinal nerve compression). I will probably not progress beyond a few steps on crutches and will inevitably require full knee replacements.
"A mobility scooter would enable me to be a part of my family again and to participate in the excitement of my children that is to be found on a simple walk along the beach or in a park or a woodland trail.
I hope that you will find my request worthy."
That was three hours ago and the devastating effects of that gut wrenching tidal wave can still be felt. I am sitting alone in a supermarket cafe surrounded by moving bodies and disjointed voices. I have switched off my hearing aids in a bid to find some calm but the ringing cacophany of tinnitus I am left with gives me no respite. I breathe deeply but my mouth is still awash with saltiness and the drowning sensation remains.
Slowly, carefully I feel the wings of my soul unfurl and faintly flutter to life. I ask my soul 'How can something so infinitely sad be just as equally beautiful?'. And my soul replies 'Because with sadness comes hope just like there are rainbows after rain, and hope is beautiful. Without hope we are lost and without love we are adrift'. And I see the beauty in my husband's words, the beauty in his love for us his family and the beauty in his hope for the future. And the tears flow once more only this time they're bittersweet tears full of the beauty of love, hope and dreams for the future.
I gather my things, switch on my hearing aids and once more join the world.
I am a profoundly deaf mum of 3 little ms and wife/carer to 1 big m.
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