In a new installment on The Daily Batch I will share wedding advice, tips, creative ideas and answers to some of the more difficult wedding questions that the magazines “gloss over”. If there is an issue you want me to tackle, tell me in the comments!
You’ve planned every element of the big day, and now it’s time to plan the marriage, and prepare for what happens after “I do”.
Together Mark and I planned our wedding, he was the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and I was the CCO (Chief Creative Officer). Together we also planned our marriage.
Prior to getting married, or even engaged, we discussed our finances, our careers, our ambitions, our faiths, our practices, our families of origin and the family we would create together, where we would live, what holidays we would celebrate and how… we planned our life. We poetically wrote those plans into our ketubah, and on our wedding day we shared sweetly simple vows from our officiant, Cantor Debbi Ballard.
Less than 9 months after we said “I do” we got our first test to vows. On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, two days after returning from India, Mark woke up at 7am blind in one eye. To contextualize this, he has always had weak vision in his left eye and has never relied on it, so the blindness in his right eye left him completely without vision.
Together we managed to get to the emergency room. My adrenaline and his memory of Northern Virginia is the only way we made it there. And so began a series of questions, blood tests, and CAT Scans, when those proved inconclusive we were sent off to an eye specialist.
When that visit also proved inconclusive, we were sent back to the emergency room, with the early diagnosis of optic neuritis, the inflammation of the optic nerve, which typically has an 86% recovery rate.
The first 24 hours of any drama are the worst, because in those hours, you have no answers and only questions. The questions come from doctors, nurses, and interns, they come from very helpful and supportive family and friends, but the loudest and scariest questions are the ones you ask yourself.
They are practical and short term: What is happening? What is the treatment? What is the recovery?
And they are long term: Will he be able to drive, work, surf, snowboard again? Will he ever see me again? Will he see the faces of our future children?
For the next five days we made Mark’s small hospital room at the end of the hall our home away from home. We had visitors, homemade foods and snacks, take out from a favorite restaurant, flowers audio books, and cheerful texts, phone calls and emails.
Everyday there would be new tests, visits from a vampire between 3-4am to collect blood, scans, and visits from doctors and nurses with giant flashlights and the question, “Can you see me now?” The answer was always “no”.
Together we were realizing the meaning of the vows, “in sickness and in health”. When Mark and I first started dating we called ourselves “Team MC,” and in those days in the hospital, and as Mark’s vision in his left-eye strengthened, and the 8 months of doctor visits, trips to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic, that followed, our being a team and partners is what got us through.
His resilience, my perseverance.
His calm, my questions.
His steadiness, my ability to cry in the other room – we made the room a no cry zone.
Mark’s right eye did not recover as originally projected. A year later the cause of this is still unknown and is somewhat of a medical fluke. The right eye that was completely dark, now filters in some light and shadows. His left eye has grown stronger, and he works, drives, surfs, runs, does yoga and lives his life like nothing ever happened.
This morning when I told Mark I wanted to write about the past year and what happened he said to me “make sure you write about the fun stuff…”
That is the essence of Mark, he is the most fiercely determined person I know, his energy knows no limits, and he finds the beauty, strength and purpose in every moment.
On the first night in the hospital we stepped away from his room and went outside. It was still and quiet, and calm. The moon was bright and high over our heads and Mark couldn’t see it. And in that moment he recounted how everything was going so right in our world; careers, our new marriage, and exciting opportunities and until this. It’s the only time Mark ever complained.
Reflecting back on this part of the past year sometimes gives me a lump in my throat. However, it is an ongoing reminder that we can plan our marriages, and our lives, down to the second, but things will always happen and when they do the timing is never right. There is no time to waste before beginning the next great challenge or adventure. The way you overcome the surprises or struggles in life is not by planning for them but finding the right people to overcome them with.