So there’s got to be a period of forgiveness for lack of communication for 6 months, right? My last entry was on April 19th, a day before Anthony’s 8th alive day. Wow, so much has happened since then. I’ll start with the main man, my love, my heart and soul, my man!!! Anthony made it through his alive day very well. I read him all of his Marines messages and friends and family and he definitely felt the love; as did I of course. I am so lucky to have him here with AJ and I and not only that, but to have him healthy and making progress every single day. We had some issues with his secretions for a while in the spring and finally saw pulmonology and he prescribed him a scopolamine patch. Who knew that a patch that prevents motion sickness also reduces the amount of secretions in a minimally conscious adult??? I sure didn’t, but the patches have worked like a charm and coincidentally have helped keep Anthony extremely healthy this year. Anthony has also been receiving music therapy for almost a year (February will be a year) and I strongly believe that it has helped him. He has become more attentive and responsive and has become more consistent in one long eye blink for “yes” and two long ones for “no”. We have also been working with him using his thumb to wave goodbye and he is doing pretty good with that as well. The second half of this year also brought us several very welcomed visits from some of Anthony’s Marines, which we always LOVE! If I could have his Marines come and visit once a month, I’d get that scheduled. Not only does Anthony enjoy the visits, but so do I. Makes me feel like Anthony is not forgotten; which was my worst fear from getting separated from the military. In May Anthony was inducted into the Impact A Hero Hall of Fame along with his squad leader and brother Eric Morante. It was such a huge honor and a wonderful event. He was so alert and paying attention to everything being spoken on that stage and seeing some of his Marine buddies and a couple of our friends from Tampa, that was just an added bonus. We threw AJ’s birthday party at a bowling alley that had Laser Tag; which is what AJ wanted to do, and all was a success. It was extremely loud when we were in there and Anthony did not look comfortable. We asked management if they could lower the volume and they agreed and Anthony got much more comfortable after that. Anthony celebrated his 34th birthday in October and I just cannot believe how long it’s been. I’ve known and had Anthony in my for 13 years and I have pretty much loved him for all 13 of those years and he has been the center of my world for 12 of those 13 years! I consider myself lucky as all get out, but that the same time the most gypped person in the whole world, but I won’t get into that now. In November AJ’s school put on a Veteran’s Day program and so he invited Anthony and my dad to attend so we all went and it was really a sweet program. I am always so very proud of my hero, but Veteran’s day gives me the opportunity to thank all of the other Veterans in my life and remind them that I am so thankful for them too. Christmas came quickly this year; at least that’s how it feels. We had a very good Christmas, Sheila and Stephen were unfortunately in California and we missed them, but other than that, we had a good one. Mom, Dad and my brother all came over for Christmas Eve and I made an amazing dinner, we ate, drank and had merriment! Anthony’s sister and brother-in-law and our nephew all stopped by for a visit on Christmas Eve as well and it was nice to spend time with them and get to cuddle that precious little Jack! Christmas morning we all woke up, had breakfast and then opened presents and AJ was so excited because Santa brought him what he had been wanting…a go cart. He’s been on that thing every day the weather has cooperated and I am so thrilled that he was so happy with it; hell, even I got on it and took it for a spin! So needless to say we all had a good Christmas. Anthony continues to stay healthy and I hope that continues into the new year!
Ok now on to AJ…AJ had a great first grade year and passed and was promoted to the second grade (no shock of course, he’s such a smart kid!) After school was out, we had a couple of weeks at home enjoying summer here in Houston and then at the end of June, AJ and I flew to San Francisco to visit Sheila and Stephen and it was so good to see them and to be able to see their home there. While we were in Cali, AJ and I took a couple of days from our time up there and drove up to Groveland, CA where our best friends, the Kellys, live and got to spend some very precious time with them. I wish it could have been more time!!! I miss them so very much! Anyway, after spending a great week in Cali, we came back home to our main man and told him all about our visit west. I know Anthony wished he could have come with us, just like every other trip AJ and I take! AJ had his very first sleep away night at a friends house in July and he had a blast. I can’t believe we are already to those years; our little man is growing up. In July we had our annual trip with Shannon and Journey Allen. This year we decided to take the kids back to the Tampa area to go to the beach and get an opportunity to visit some of our Tampa family. It was such a great time we had there; even Ryanne joined us this time. we did a lot of swimming, movie watching, playing games and just had a great time. Those are always such special trips for us, because we get to spend some much needed time with our post injury family and they mean the world to us! I honestly don’t know what we would do without them! The rest of July and August we enjoyed time at home with our number one favorite man. AJ started second grade at the end of August and he was so excited. He got a new teacher that seemed very nice and he seems to like her a lot which of course makes me super happy. AJ loves school and my biggest fear is that he’s going to get that one teacher that just ruins it for him and makes him change his mind…luckily that has not happened yet and hopefully never will. Like I said earlier AJ had his birthday in September…he turned 8 years old. How has that happened already? He had a great laser tag party; he had lots of friends and even his “Bubby” (RyAnne) drove out to help him celebrate. For Halloween AJ dressed up as a Ninja and we had a great time at a neighborhood Halloween get together. He got to ride a train to go trick or treating and he got to do it with some of his best friends. I have to admit, even I had fun. Sheila came in town that weekend, so after taking AJ trick or treating, I got to go and have some adult time and hang out with a friend. In November, AJ and I tagged along with my mom who had her 50th high school reunion in Puerto Rico. AJ had never been so it was the perfect opportunity to take him to meet his family there. We were there for 6 days and we had a blast! He fit right in with his extended cousins and I was so thrilled to see all of my cousins too. It had been 13 years since I had been in PR…ridiculously too long! So needless to say, AJ has had a great last 6 months.
Now on to me, I have definitely had my ups and downs in the last six months; honestly, as expected. I’m happy to report that I finally have my anxiety under control and that has been a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I had been having anxiety attacks for months at the beginning of the year, until well into May. I ended up taking myself to the ER several times, convinced that I was having a heart attack, only to be told it was “just” my anxiety. I finally spoke to my doctor who had been trying to get me to try something to help with it and we decided to try something very light with very little side effects and I have now been on it for 6 months with no issues. As much as I fought the idea of a medication to help me with that, I’m so glad that I caved. It took me a while, but I finally realize that even I can’t handle everything on my own. I’ve been doing so much better and have not seen the inside of an ER in 6 months…GO ME! In May I got invited to speak at the 2015 Care Coalition Conference on the TBI panel and it was a huge honor. I enjoyed every minute of it; it’s always hard to retell mine and Anthony’s story, but if by retelling our story helps the military and hospital personnel make improvements on how they care for the incoming wounded, then it’s totally worth it. I received HUGE compliments after our panel and had lots of people come up to me and introduce themselves and ask if I did speaking engagements which kind of made me giggle, but at the same time made me want to do them
all the time. I made a very important connection there and I’m so excited to hopefully be working with him and his company in the very near future!! The weekend following the conference was also a very special one…I picked Shannon up from the airport the day after the conference and we checked in to our hotel and I got to hang out with my sister from another mother. On that Saturday, Shannon and I along with other friends and extended family got to witness the very special and awesome union of one of our honorary little brothers (Mark Lalli, injured a year after Anthony and another one of my wounded warrior family members) marry the woman of his dreams, Margo. It was a lovely wedding and I was overcome with joy at seeing how far Mark has come. The wedding was super fun and both Shannon and I were sweaty messes from the amount of dancing we did! After the wedding, we went and hang out with Shannon’s cousin who was visiting and staying with a friend. We stayed super late, but had a great time. The weekend went by so quickly and was sad to say goodbye to my second home. The rest of the summer was busy with trips to visit family and friends and just enjoying the break from having to get up early for school days! Plus just getting to spend more time with both my men, makes everything so much better! In August I did a weekend in Dallas to celebrate my best friend’s little sister’s wedding which was super fun! I had a great birthday; Blaine took me out to a yummy dinner and then my favorite bar downtown, I was just excited to introduce her to it. After a few drinks there and friendly banter with the bartenders, we headed back to our neck of the woods and grabbed a few more drinks and then had a very late night hanging out. The following weekend I celebrated my birthday with more friends when my friend Amanda and I crashed the class reunion of the class that graduated before us…we had a blast! We did Thanksgiving at my parent’s house this year, my aunt and uncle from Dallas and their children drove down and brought my grandmother so we had a full house and had a great time. I love spending time with family; it’s always so fun and full of laughs! And now come the holidays…the holidays are always hard for me; I hold it together pretty well until…well, I don’t. I tried to just look at all the positives I have in my life and remember how lucky and grateful I am, but on the inside I’m sobbing because I’m missing my man and all the fun times we should be having right now. Anthony and I were both social butterflies; there is nothing we loved more than spending time with the people we love and care about most…our friends and family. We reveled in those times and enjoyed every minute of it. We never missed a party or an invitation to hang out. Nowadays it’s just me, I get invitations and always have to go alone…I watch my friends laugh and tell stories about their husbands and their children and I smile all the while dying because I know that if Anthony were “fine” I would have great and funny stories to tell about my man and he would be there blushing or adding details I left out. He and I were an amazing team, we loved hard and would do anything and everything for our friends. I continue to love hard and do anything and everything I can manage for my friends, but it’s just not the same without him backing me up and holding my hand the whole time. I miss the man he was and how he loved me unconditionally; he wanted me around all the time, he loved talking to me and he always told me how much he loved and cared for me. We called each other “Babe” and told each other “I love you times infinity” something I have continued to say to our little man so he knows the way his daddy and I love each other. It’s this time of year when the new year is looming that I take stock of our life together and every year I want to be able to say “we have come so far” and every year I end up saying “well we haven’t fallen back”. Not ideal, but I guess it’s something. Every night Anthony and I would cuddle up on the couch and watch our shows and tickle each other and laugh and hold hands and it was my favorite place to be…now the couch (although still just as comfortable) is a bitter sweet place for me. I look next to me and hope that one day I’ll see him sitting next to me with a big smile on his face and just enjoy the sound of his high pitched laugh and know that I am exactly where I want and am supposed to be. Here’s hoping…
That being said, here is my hope for all of you in the coming year…I hope that you look at the love in your life and that you thank God every single day for putting it there and keeping it safe. I hope that you make memories of your life every opportunity you get; remember sounds, smells, looks, idiosyncrasies and never let them leave your memory. I hope you take LOTS of pictures and you even take LOTS of videos so that you look/watch them any time you want or need to. I hope you remember that what is really important are the people in your life and not that stuff that you have in your life. Remember that every day is a gift and once one day is gone you don’t get it back and make the most of every single one. May you all have a safe, happy and fun new year with your loved ones. Bring on 2016, right?