This week, Ben and I have the honor of celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary. One blog post can simply not even begin to plumb the depths of life that we have experienced together in these past nineteen years.
But there was a defining moment, right before we got married… a “foreshadowing,” so to speak, of things to come.
Ten days before our wedding, Ben and I were driving from Illinois to New Jerey. Ben had graduated with a degree in music from Northwestern University and we were stopping in Pennsylvania to put our belongings in storage. The plan was to get married in my hometown in New Jersey and then begin our new lives as grad students at Penn State.
For financial reasons, we shared a hotel room in Pennsylvania. For spiritual reasons, we slept in separate beds.
Shortly after going to sleep, I was awakened by a grunting noise. I turned to see Ben jerking and shaking in his bed. Saliva was coming out of his mouth and he was completely unresponsive to me.
I called 911 and waited in our hotel room for the ambulance to arrive. I felt very alone and very young.
The paramedics burst into our hotel room with a flash of light, noise, and people. They asked me questions that I wasn’t able to answer and tried valiantly to get my fiancee to wake up. Ben didn’t regain consciousness, so they put him on a stretcher to take him to the hospital. Even in his barely conscious state, Ben resisted being taken away in restraints. He yelled and fought off the paramedics until they needed to call for back-up.
Forty minutes (and 8 paramedics) later, Ben wakened enough to voluntarily go in the ambulance. The paramedics graciously allowed me to ride in the front with them…a caring gesture at the time, but one that left me stranded in a strange hospital without my car or Ben’s shoes!
I listened in the ambulance as the paramedics asked Ben questions…”Do you know where you are?” “No.” “Do you know what year it is?” “No.” Finally, I said slowly, “Ben…do you know what happens in ten days?” For the first time, Ben sat up on his stretcher and opened his eyes. “I’m getting married!” he said as a big smile played out across his face. “July 11th, 1992.” Then he promptly fell back on the stretcher and went to sleep.
Oh how I sensed God’s faithfulness in that small, simple answer spoken by my future husband. Things were topsy turvy…but God demonstrated His love in that one sentence spoken by my confused husband. I see Ben’s short experience with memory loss (he also did not remember anything about the day before his seizure) as a foreshadowing to help prepare me for the amnesia and memory loss of the past seven years..
Ben was later diagnosed with epilepsy – recurring seizures with no identifiable cause. We could never have imagined the ways that God would use Ben’s seizures to shape us, mold us, and cause us to trust Him. We could never have imagined the three beautiful, precious children God would give us who have had to live much of their short lives amidst difficulty, trials, and faith. But we know that through these nineteen years, nothing that we have experienced has been a surprise to the Lord. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Happy Anniversary, Ben. I am so thankful that the future and hope He has for me includes you.