Making the most of the hand you’ve been dealt

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I was just so moved by this article in the NY Times Sunday Styles section last week, “In a Charmed Life, a Road Less Traveled” by Layng Martine Jr. that I insisted my husband read it. “Anyone who is in love is living a charmed life,” said the author, “especially if you’ve been in love for many years, through good times and bad.” I was moved both because it resonated with how I feel about my partner and because love never left this relationship. Not after the author’s wife lost the use of her legs, as well as other bodily functions. Not after she had to give up so many things she once enjoyed, and they once did together, like hiking in the mountains, strolling on a beach, tending to their garden. 

Martine Jr. continued, “After the doctor left, tears filled her eyes. “It was all too perfect,” she said, “wasn’t it?” And it did seem that way. It always had… Not long after getting home from the hospital, when we were having dinner by candlelight at our kitchen table, she burst into tears. “I don’t know if I can do this for the rest of my life,” she said.

All I could say was, “We’ll do it together.”

And then they began to look for what could be instead of what they had lost. “We began to think of what we could do to replace playing tennis, walking on the beach, working in the garden. 

We take many more drives now, preferably in our convertible… where they bring the food to our car…We know to say “Yes” to nearly everything because there is probably a way to do it. We know there is happiness available every day… A few months after the accident, Linda started driving again. She has rolled three marathons — yes, a full 26-plus miles in a racing wheelchair.” 

And now, so long since that fateful night, looking across the dinner table at my wife, or seeing her across the room at a party, the hopeless crush I have on her is as wonderfully out of control as when I first saw her more than four decades ago.” 

Fifteen years after the accident they have found a way to still roll through Tuscany, in and out of Ireland’s pubs, and watch the sun set holding hands on a country porch.  

“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or who will live how long…We are two, but we are one. And I love those numbers.”

This is a story of love and support, of possibility and survivorship, of finding happiness in simple things and adapting to what life hands you. And while it’s easy to say when you’re feeling down look around at the people who have it worse than you, it can still be hard to make your unhappiness smaller. 

But the game really is to find ways to still have happiness and contentment no matter what life has handed you. And the lesson to be learned is it is possible. 

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