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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Memory & Memories...


Good day?

I hope!

Since Monday is still fresh on the brain, I’m gonna start there…

It was a good day. Lots of good things and it all started with a good morning!

When I went to bed Sunday night, I had every intention of getting up early so I could head to the gym. Our elliptical is down and we have a big trip coming up in a couple weeks…and I’ve been eating A LOT. Gold’s Gym blessed both of us with FREE membership, but I never go! Cale hasn’t either. It’s hard for me to get up and get going to go workout. Eh.

That explains why I turned off my alarm and reset for a later time, instead of jumping out of bed. I tend to roll out most days. Cale isn’t a fan of the mornings that my alarm keeps going off…I should work on that.

By the time I finally got myself going, and did my quiet time, it was too late to get to the gym. BUT, I did have a really good quiet time! It was one of those times that afterwards I was excited…just being reminded that the Lord is consistent, constant, and never changes.

When I picked up my devotional the first line said something about being in a place in my life that I need to let go of something. Gulp. As I kept reading, it’s not like anything was coming to mind. Later it talked about what we really find our security in. Our pastor has been speaking a lot about these two things lately, but still nothing was pressing on me. After reading my Bible, I started writing out my prayer and as I was writing that I wondered what I needed to let go of, the Army took over all thoughts.

We’re about to have another huge change in our life. It’s a place that unfortunately we’ve already walked through and experienced right before the accident. The Army has been our “security” since right after we got married. Cale had left for Basic 1 month after and during that month; our lives were filled with the preparation of him leaving. It’s all we’ve known as a couple. Over the last 2 years, the Army has looked a bit different, as I’ve been the one stepping to the plate of a soldier (I’m not so good at it…), but all along, it has been the security blanket for finances, therapy, traveling, insurance, and guidance.

I’ve been dreading Cale’s ETS date because that means taking away everything we’ve known so far in our little comfort bubble. It’s a scary thing to have everything change in the midst of an already unsettling time in our life. Oerfect time for the specific reminder about knowing that even though everything around us constantly changes, God doesn’t. His love for us never changes.

Every word was exactly what I had needed to read…it was just…really good.

The day unfolded with many moments of little things that built up to be a pretty incredible day with all that Cale was doing.

I’m not sure if I’ve written before, but cribbage used to be a game that Cale and I would play for hours together…no joke. We would have so much fun and it wasn’t even because I would win all the time. He usually took the trophy, but somehow we would laugh and laugh and challenge each other and turn the game into one of the most fun things we would do together. Every now and then I think about all of those times and the memories wrapped up into such a simple game and my heart aches for the way I miss it…and long for those kind of moments again.

We had tried to play while we were In Palo Alto, but the game was just way too much for Cale and left me with an even deeper longing. A few weeks ago Cale’s speech therapist started playing with him and has told me that things seemed to be really coming back to him. She did say that he still needed help, but was doing well with it. I haven’t quite been able to get the guts to try to play with him again. I think it’s one of those things that I know has changed and knowing that is hard, but actually having to see it and experience the difference makes it all harder. That has been the hurtle for many areas of our life…the actual experience being so different never seems to get easier.

I finally did decide to just try playing with him after watching him and his therapist play on Monday. He certainly has gotten much better than when they first started. I loved it! Really! It was great getting to play with him again! It didn’t last long because my first hand ended up being really good and I was the dealer so the crib was mine, this made him upset, so we took a break. We picked it back up this afternoon though!

He also has been able to carry (CARRY!) one of our chairs instead of dragging it for the last couple days. Normally it’s a short distance, but on Monday he carried it from the table, around the couch, and into the kitchen! This is HUGE! I was trying to stay calm and not freak him out in front of our small group, but I totally was going crazy inside! I was nervous and watched him as he went, but let him do it all by himself! Crazy!

I found this picture from after one of our cribbage games a couple years ago. I had won (which hardly ever happened!) and teased Cale. He tackeled and we laughed! :)

After everyone had left, I usually have a bunch to clean up before I get to bed. Cale normally goes to the bedroom to brush his teeth and by the end of the night he’s so tired he’ll get in bed while I clean up. Rather than go off to get ready for bed, he helped me clean up! It was so sweet! Maybe for other people this is a big deal just because their husband never helps out, but my husband normally can’t help out…but he did! He did a lot too! He helped bring in the rest of the dishes off the table, threw the garbage away for me, and helped with the animals. This blessed me so much! Things like that are so small, but at the same time show how amazing his healing is! I didn’t ask, I didn’t have to guide each step; he just helped and actually wanted to.

Backing up a little…

Saturday we chilled. It started with me going to Zumba at the gym. Like I had said earlier, Gold’s Gym had given us free membership, but up until the elliptical going down, I haven’t wanted to take the time to go. I went last Wednesday with a couple ladies from church and enjoyed laughing a lot, but also getting a good work out. Saturday I decided to brave going by myself and oh boy. I thought for some reason they would have the same songs and I would be a lot better, but they were different! When I got home I described myself to Mama and Cale as a flailing sea creature out of water. Fun. Haha! The rest of the day we chilled around the house and played games.

I forgot to tell you the story of the breaking point that showed all of us how Cale wasn’t ready for work quite yet. His therapist was with him at church and I guess he had said he didn’t want to work anymore. He’s been putting up a fight because he kept saying that he does dumb stuff there. Well, he was in the little office where he helps stuff the bulletins and ended up slamming the door several times and locking himself inside. Our Pastor tried to enter after hearing all the slamming, but Cale wouldn’t let him in. Finally he let him and they talked. He was really upset with his therapist though and wouldn’t get in her car with her. The picture of it all happening made me laugh and that night when I tried to talk to Cale about it, he couldn’t remember. I told him a short version of what happened and then had to add, “As awesomely funny as that was, it’s not ok to do it!” Oh man. The life of the Darling’s…

Another big thing that happened Monday while we were getting ready, made me leap for joy again! After breakfast I asked Cale to brush his teeth and fix his hair. This is a daily occurrence but everyday Cale goes to brush his teeth and can’t remember there was anything else. I had been in the other bathroom blow drying my hair and Cale came in and asked where to find his comb! We never use a comb, usually just wet it a little to help with the bed head, but he had remembered his hair needed to be done!!!! I was so excited! Yesterday it was back to just his teeth, but my goodness, the fact that he can even just go brush his teeth is so HUGE! It wasn’t too long ago that I had to help him with every step of it!

There are still days that things become a bit hazy for him and he forgets what to even do with the tooth brush or tooth paste. It doesn’t happen as often as it was and I can see us getting through that stage. I’ve been watching him closer lately and really paying attention to how hard he works for each thing he does. It’s so easy for me to go through my day and do so many things without having to put any thought into it, but for him, each and every step of an activity takes so much thought. Just to get dressed, he looks at each thing and thinks about where it goes and how he puts it on. He gets mixed up often and needs guidance, but he tries every day.

Memory is such a challenge in several areas of our life. We’ve been home for a while trying to live life with joyful hearts like we would have before the car accident. We see the challenges in things we do throughout the day, if I’ve told or asked Cale to do something or if we have a conversation that’s brought up later. It shows up with taking his meds or him not remembering that he has already done something. It shows up with him forgetting even sweet and intimate moments. Those are some immediate things, but then sometimes his memory still gets mixed up on who I am and that we’re married. Just the other day he thought I was his cousin. We had this big discussion on how I’m his wife, Mrs. Darling and how we’re married and live in the same house. Maybe some of the hardest times is the collection of memories of our life together that on some days seemed to have been wiped out and lost somewhere in space. Where do those memories go? Some things I so desperately want him to remember to share in the moment with me, but it’s just not there. It could be something that happened years ago or just the other day. So many special moments…

I worked at a nursing home while Cale was deployed one year. I didn’t have to work that year, but I didn’t want to just sit around and wait for the year to end and him to come home. I had taken a CNA class even though anything medical had never been anything I felt attracted to. I ended up loving the residents the Lord had given to me. In fact when I had to quit so that I could go back to NY when Cale was getting ready to come home, I cried! I had built such deep relationships with people that hardly knew who I was the next day when I came in for work. One specific couple I had talked with Cale time after time about their story and how they had made such an impact on my life. I still look at my picture with them every now and then. The wife had Alzheimer’s and the husband came to visit her every day. She didn’t remember him most days and often thought he was her dad. She had forgotten or mixed up all of the memories that they had built up over 50 years of being married. The picture of them as newlyweds hung in her room and more than once she had no idea it was them. It never made a dent in the way he looked at her with so much love. I told Cale on more than one phone call how I wanted to be like that for him. I wanted to grow old with him and love him more and more with each passing year and it wouldn’t matter what our future held because we would always be so in love.

I meant every word then and I still do, but as I type them now, I can feel the weight of already being the one to carry all of our memories as husband and wife. During moments of something happening and being reminded of something we had shared, there’s no common smile that we share as we both remember. There’s no inside jokes, or long shared conversation while with friends of what was.

We live in the now. The moment that is unfolding before us and we experience whatever emotion has taken hold of us and then as that moment passes, we’re into the next. My heart soaks it all up and places them ever so gently in a treasure box, knowing that not even a picture will be able to capture what has just taken place.

I do still try to take as many pictures as I can (as you know!) and try to capture the happenings of our life so that on later days, I can retell our collection of stories. We have good times with that…and so far Cale loves getting to look at all the pictures!

On another note, the snow has come! It’s VERY white outside. It is still nothing compared to the snow we would get on Fort Drum, but for here in this little corner of Washington, it’s a lot!

We haven’t gotten out of our pj’s yet, but Cale did have OT. His therapist drove all the way from Spokane with these terrible roads! Yuck! They had a great session and let me join in on the fun for a few minutes. I think his PT tonight is not going to happen, but I think he’s not too upset about it! ;)

Well, I think that’s about all the “dumping” I’m doing for today! Thank you for reading!

sidenote...this blog post has taken me the longest to post...EVER! Can you say distracted?!


  1. Haha took me forever to read it with all the distractions. You are so amazing with how you always find the good in the rough times.... Hugs

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. It helps me to understand better how to pray for you both. What a precious love you both share. My prayer right now for you is that in time many of those memories you both share will be returned to him in full and that you will make many more memories to share as you grow old together! God is a God of miracles!
    Blessings, Emily Jordan

  3. My Sweet Girl, My heart is full. I am so glad Father gave you to me. Thank you for sharing your story. It is helping me to love my man right where he is and appreciate what I have. I love you and leave you in the hands of a loveing Father. Marion

  4. He taught me how to play Cribbige! Now do I remember? Could I play it now? Not too much. He's just gonna have to get to the point where he can give me a refresher:)

    Julie H.


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