Here's my Timehop photo from one year ago.
I remember taking this selfie of me and Jeff on the last day of 2013. We were in the physical therapy room of Rancho Los Amigos, the rehab hospital Jeff spent five months in. He would stay in that hospital for the first six weeks of 2014, then he would - finally - come home so we could begin our new life early in the new year.
This whole Timehop thing has gotten me thinking about time. How so often we look back on our lives in one year increments and compare where we are now to where we were before.
During 2013, the year of Jeff's injury, that look back was always so hard. So painful. Because every time we looked back a year, we were reminded of the difficulties of our present situation. Christmas 2013 was, hands down, our worst Christmas to date. Not only did we have to spend it with Jeff in a hospital bed trapped inside a new body, but we also reflected on how just one short year prior, at Christmas 2012, we were so happy living our "normal" life. That Christmas I remember watching Jeff help Evie shoot her new bow and arrow across the living room. Christmas 2013 was bleak as we opened presents at our home without Jeff, and only later that day did we gather around his bed so he could watch, not help, his daughter open gifts in the uncomfortable surroundings of a semi-private hospital room.
But all of that changed this year. Because 2014 brought us something brand new - at least for the last half of the year. That's when we could look back a year, this time with the feeling that we were now in a better place than the prior year. Christmas 2014, while still very different from holidays past, was SO much better than Christmas 2013. This year Jeff got to watch Evie open ALL of her presents in the warm comfort of our home. Got to see, in person, the look of excitement and pure joy on his daughter's face. Christmas morning, Evie came out to the living room to find a new bike Santa had left for her. She promptly hopped on, peddled swiftly down the hall, smashed into the wall, then happily steered her new bike into our bedroom so she could show off her surprise to Daddy. His face lit up when she pulled the bike up to his bed.
So. Much. Better.
Just a few weeks after Jeff's injury, when everything was still so stinging like a fresh wound, a friend visited me and reminded me to not get caught up in comparing one day to the next. Not even one week to the next. Because there are too many ups and downs in short-time comparisons that make reflections both impossible and unbearable. I took this advice to heart, and still practice it today. It's funny how, day to day, time often has a way of making it seem like nothing has changed. But wait a while, let some time pass, then do your looking back. For only then will you see just how much change has taken place.
2014 allowed me to do this. To put an entire year, year and a half really, between the day our life changed and now. And it's made that one-year timehop easier to bear.
I'm sure I'll always look back on life before a spinal cord injury with a sadness and longing. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss our old life. I do. A lot. But I think a more accurate description is that I miss the conveniences of our old life. Jeff and I have chosen to not live in a state of longing for the past because that just diminishes our current, new life. And our new life is just as full of the good things as our old life was. The love of family. The companionship of friends. Watching our little girl grow into her own unique person. Despite a colossal shift in our life, we still have plenty of the good stuff.
And so time marches on. With one speed and one direction.
2015, here we come ...
Photo courtesy of Tereza Harper Photography