Non-traditional … this is the word that best describes me. My background is non-traditional. My family life is non-traditional. And my husband’s disability is non-traditional. But still, my heart resonates with the stories of so many women on this website!
My non-traditional upbringing: I grew up in a Jewish home in northern New Jersey. By God’s grace and some miraculous circumstances, I came to know the Lord in my freshman year of college. I experienced a dramatic, life-changing conversion and met my husband just a few years later.
My non-traditional wedding story: Ten days before our wedding, Ben experienced his first seizure. He was immediately put on heavy, dulling medication and told not to drive for six months. Ben’s seizures stayed in the background of our life for the first twelve years of our marriage. Sometimes Ben claimed he was tired or “mentally slow” from the seizures and from the medication. But despite occasional misfirings in Ben’s brain, we tried to live our lives in a way that pleased God.
Ben’s non-traditional disability: In 2004, when I was seven months pregnant with our third child, Ben experienced Status Epilepticus. He had 8 seizures in two hours, causing his heart to stop for 4 ½ minutes. The oxygen loss to his brain was severe. Because he aspirated a lung, Ben was put on a respirator and remained unconscious for four days. When he woke up, Ben could not remember at least four years of our life together. More significantly, Ben was unable to form new memories.
Our non-traditional life. We have three young children at home, but God is calling me to go back to work full-time due to my husband’s hidden disability. Ben continues to struggle with short-term memory loss and problems with executive function. He fatigues easily, has ongoing seizures of a smaller nature, and sometimes struggles with his speech. Simple abilities that we once took for granted are now major accomplishments for Ben. (But oh! He never lost his ability to quote Scripture from memory. Kudos to his parents for having had him hide it in his heart when he was young!)
Our children have had to learn to trust God with a father whose memory is imperfect and unpredictable. I have had to walk the fine line between respecting my husband (which I do!) and repeatedly telling him what to do (which I have to do). Throughout this journey with Ben’s disability, God has remained faithful as we’ve walked through tremendous heartache, loss, trial and change. And one thing I can be sure of in the midst of a life filled with the non-traditional is that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:8.