For the most part, I was a happy-go-lucky kid who didn’t let my Spastic Diplegia, Cerebral Palsy (CP), stop me from achieving my dreams. I knew that I could do anything as long as I believed in myself. I knew I could learn to drive, earn a college degree, and so much more. Most importantly, I knew that I could live a happy, fulfilled life, without the love and support of a husband. It’s true…I never thought I would marry.
Yes, I was happy and lived life with a lot of positivity, but I was also a realist. I believed that, without a doubt, there wasn’t a man out there who could possibly be attracted to a woman who was contorted from head to toe and couldn’t walk from the car to the store entrance without a sea of eyes glued to her every step. I was comfortable knowing what I had to deal with on a daily basis...but, honestly, who would sign up for such a life?
As my friends began to date and I developed my own crushes, I couldn’t help but let sadness get the best of me from time to time...the sadness that comes from thinking no one in the world could possibly have a crush on me. I wanted to experience LOVE! I wanted to walk down the beach holding a lover’s hand. I wanted to know what it felt like to have that first kiss or to wake up in a man’s arms. But the closest I would get to these feelings would come from the pages of a Harlequin romance novel. I would only share these thoughts with my mom, who would reassure me, “Jean, there is someone for everyone. And you will end up with the nicest one of all.” My mom always had great advice and a hug to go along with it, but I thought in my heart that this time she was wrong. As a teenager, who expects Mom to be right about your love life? Well, this time I was thrilled that she proved me wrong!
By the time I was 20, I met an amazing man, who attended the same college as me, but on a college basketball scholarship. I thought he was as nice as could be and far better looking than any of those men on the covers of those romance books I enjoyed reading in my teens. Immediately, he crossed my mind many times a day, but I knew that I didn’t stand a chance! How could someone so tall, dark, handsome and athletic be interested in someone like me? I was the girl in the mobility scooter! Instead of focusing on a romantic relationship, he slowly became my best friend. Two years later, he was the love of my life, and I was his.
July 29, 2000 was by far the happiest day of my life, because I said “I do” to a lifetime partnership of love and support. On our honeymoon I had to ask him why he loves me. Part of me still felt that sense of I’m not worthy of his love and he could have done so much better. Without hesitation, he looked me in the eyes and said, “because you are always so positive and don’t let your disability define you.” And I knew he was right and I did deserve his love.
I had always tried to live my life doing the best that I could, with a smile on my face. Yes, I had difficulties walking more than a few steps, jotting down notes, or even holding a book to read. Yet, my mobility and dexterity was just a small part of who I was. Who I am. Sure, my athletic husband would never run a marathon alongside his wife, but he knew that he could count on me to cheer him up after a stressful day of work, console him when dealing with the loss of a loved one, and help raise children with strong family values.
I write this blog entry not to brag about my amazing husband, but to tell everyone that there is someone out there for you. I ended up with a man who I thought was way out of my league... simply by being me.
Here we are 15 years later, and with so many changes in our relationship. We have three children, and I can now walk because I discovered that I had been misdiagnosed all those years of my youth (which is an entirely different blog entry). Yet one thing is still the same, and that is our love for one another.
Happy 15th Anniversary, Steve, the love of my life.