Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I am not replaced.

One year ago today I could have died. The odds were against me. I was feeding my 3 month-old baby girl and when I stood up to join my 2 and 3 year-old and my husband for diner, I started to faint. It felt like someone took a pen and drew a line down the middle of my tongue and woosh, just like that, I was paralyzed on the right side of my body. A blood clot traveled to my brain and in that instant, my life was forever changed. I had a stroke.

Last year someone else replaced me in life. Someone else bought Valentines cards for my sons’ preschool classes. Someone else washed my hair. Someone else cared for my babies when they were sick. Someone else cooked dinner every night. Someone else had to drive me. Someone else tucked my children in at night. Someone else did the job I loved. I couldn’t stand on my own. Someone had to hold me. I couldn’t be left alone. I had a bed alarm. I couldn’t brush my teeth. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t walk into a grocery store. I couldn’t talk to my husband about anything remotely complex. My soulmate went from my husband to my caretaker. I felt like I was floating all the time.  I wasn’t part of important conversations anymore. I was like a child, yet I knew how it felt to be an adult. I couldn’t find my words, my solid ground. I couldn’t find me. And I didn't know how much of me would come back. Someone else was always replacing me.

I spent the past year focusing on what I couldn’t do and trying to get those things back, rehabbing for months trying to get back to me. My one goal every day, with every task: Replace someone else with me. 

Today, I drove to the store, in a car, by myself, and successfully bought the things my family needs. I took my kids to the doctor. I communicated with the doctor and made decisions about my kids’ health. By myself. I made them dinner tonight. I sat at a table and ate with my family. I could get a fork from the plate to my mouth. I could hold a glass and drink my milk. I got to hold my babies as long as I wanted - every cry, every laugh, every chance I got. I now jump and run to them when they need me. I get to be the one who gives them love. I breathe in the smell of their hair, touch their skin, hold their tiny hands, sing to them, rock them, nap with them, chase them silly, bathe them at night. We are making kick-ass Valentine Day boxes for preschool tomorrow. I look at them and say, I get to be your mama. I get to be your mama. I get to be your mama. Nobody else does. I can have conversations about real things with my soul mate again. I can hold him. I can give him love in return. I can look at his eyes and find us again. I am the person he fell in love with. I get to be his wife, not just the person he cares for. I get to be his wife. Nobody else does. 

I am not replaced.

I am here, I scream from the rooftops to the world, I AM HERE. 

Yes, there are things that will be forever changed about me, but fierce, defiant optimism is not one of them. I will no longer focus on what I can’t do, but what I can. I embrace and celebrate me today, just as I am. 

When all the loud goes away, I can hear the beating of my babies’ hearts. I can hear the beating of mine. And oh, am I grateful. God, I am grateful for this unlikely second chance to be me in this beautiful world. For some reason, beyond my tiny imagination, but part of your giant plan, I am still here. And I swear to never take it for granted, not for one moment, not for one second. I am here, I scream from the rooftops to the world, I am here. I am not replaced. 


  1. this was so important for me to read. i am also grateful--however afar and however removed-- that you are here, rebecca. with gratitude for you, your words, your optimism, your spirit, and your heart-- jenya.

  2. I am glad you are doing well. Would suck to work out in my "gym" with your fight night poster as motivation knowing you weren't with us anymore. Congrats on the second chance!