A decade. Already? Most times it feels closer to 10 minutes or maybe 10 months, but 10 laps around the sun means I have traveled nearly six billion miles without actually moving a muscle – yes, I did the math – which is pretty damn impressive.
That kind of time and distance affords you the ability to see things as they fit into a larger picture. When I look back on the path I’ve been taken down and the things I’ve overcome, one thing is clear: I was never alone. To highlight a few pillars of support, I have had:
- My parents, who, when asked 10 years ago where their then-vent-dependent son would be going after eventually being discharged, simply said, “Home.” And when the doctors looked at them with sad eyes and said, “Oh, they don’t go home,” they didn’t even blink with their response. “Watch us.”
- My sister, whose unfailing love has sustained me the last 33+ years in ways I’ll never be able to explain. You all should be so lucky as to have a cheerleader like that in your corner.
- My late wife, who took the system my incredible family built, expanded on it and showed me how to do it myself. In doing so, she helped me piece together the me I never thought I’d see again and gave me my life back.
- My “tribe” of folks who have walked next to me through some of life’s most horrible tragedies and have taught me that the only way to survive the wild ride that is life is by doing it one day at a time.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, which says, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I like to take that notion one step further. I think what lies within us is a powerful mix of the people who have supported and influenced us throughout our life.
So, to my mom, my dad, my sister, my wife and the countless friends and family I won’t even attempt to name who have helped me make it those billions of miles since February 11, 2004 – whether you have given me a ride, fed me a meal, wiped my tears or drained my catheter bag – I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t every single one of you.
Here’s to another decade together.