One September night in 1998 just a few months after my son’s high school graduation, I was working in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on supper. Zeb and his stepdad were working in Westlake driving dump trucks and I was waiting on them to get home. Zeb got home first. His stepdad never made it past the red light. A man driving a truck with minimal insurance ran the red light and hit him basically head on. We got the phone call and ran for the hospital. 41 days later he was discharged home with a wheelchair, walker, and nursing care to check on him during the week. He had endured surgery, ICU for a collapsed lung and rehab for a shattered hip and socket – along with huge bruises and stitches. We had been transferred from 4 days in Lake Charles to 12 days in Houston back to 25 days in Lake Charles. By the 25th day, I just looked at the chair that I would sleep in again and cried.
It is so hard to see someone you love suffer; especially when you know the end of the suffering isn’t just around the corner. It was a very trying time for all of us. The house had to be transformed so that he could maneuver safely without tripping. I became legal secretary by day and nurse by night. Recovery was a 7 month process. But eventually we got a little breathing space, was able to take him to church, and his faith was still strong. Then less than a year later they needed to do the surgery again – the huge surgery repair didn’t take and he would need to have the total hip replaced. So we went around the mountain again…except this time he began to change from all the anger of getting no compensation, retribution or hope. We finally realized that he would be left with some disability. He hated being a victim and he hated the guy that hit him.
We were all enduring the tremendous pressure and responsibilities. Then unresolved, ignored and overlooked marriage issues began to take over as we began to be divided and fighting against each other. No longer partners but roommates. No love, just caretaking – and one sided at that. My health began to suffer, I stuffed myself with emotional eating, was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and forced to take many shots and medications, and needless to say, depression arrived up front and center. I ended up on anxiety medication. I smoked just as many cigarettes as I possibly could. Then I stayed so sick from smoking until they diagnosed me with chronic bronchitis.
During all this time I was still trusting in God. Trusting but hurting. Praying for strength and guidance but locked in survival mode. My son and my family were a blessing from the throne of God. When you talk about people holding your arms up…I know all about that. I am sure many of you know that position too…
One night my husband and I were watching a special program about euthanasia on television and he told me, “I wouldn’t let you suffer if you got really sick and in the bed; I promise I would put you out of your misery. Oh, I wouldn’t shoot you are anything, I would just smother you or something.” I don’t think I said anything. At least I can’t remember saying anything. I just sat there and the last tie holding my heart together came apart.
All I could think was of all of the time that I had cared for him, kept him safe and protected him as best I could – but if I got sick for long, I might not see morning. It was over. I knew our marriage would not survive. He thought he was doing something honorable because his mom had suffered – but instead he had just killed my heart. I would not live afraid like I had as a child.
A couple of days later at work, the secretaries and I were discussing marriage issues and I told them mine was over. Shocked, they asked when I was leaving. I left that night when I got home. It was Pearl Harbor Day, Dec 7, 2002. I was 44 years old…and starting over again.
I spent the first month crying, packing and afraid God was going to punish me for leaving. As a Christian, knowing that I was breaking a covenant, I asked for forgiveness with all my heart. I wasn’t looking around me for a man; I just was looking up to God. That’s all I knew.
I moved in with Julie and her family for 9 weeks to save up enough money to move into an apartment. I was getting less afraid of punishment for leaving and beginning to enjoy the peace and new opportunities. One night Julie, Jade and I took off to Victory Worship in Sulphur to a healing service. I had never been to one! It was totally wonderful! I didn’t know you could get delivered like that! I laughed and we ran from line to line getting prayer for smoking, healing and deliverance. We celebrated and received the power of God! And me, well, to this day I have never smoked again. Nope, not even a craving. Now THAT is a miracle!
In March of 2003 I moved into my own apartment – all by myself for the first time ever! I loved it. I was off all medications. I was no longer eating based on my emotions and began to lose weight. I was healing and happy out from under oppression. I decorated my apartment and spent time with family and God. Life was wonderful. I was still pretty shy from all the destruction and wounding but I was standing taller, day by day. If anyone asked me about dating, well…they didn’t ask again.
Easter of 2003 Julie had invited us to a new church she heard about. Jade was going to participate in the Easter program and Julie wanted us to go. So Good Friday I went and bought some new dye and colored my hair – excited that we were going out to eat boiled crawfish and have a good Easter weekend. But Saturday morning when I woke up, I couldn’t open my eyes, my head and hair were wet and my pillow soaked. I managed to get to the mirror and realized that I was allergic to the hair dye and had a chemical burn over my whole scalp. Fluid filled my face and head to where I was swollen like a balloon. If I laid my head to one side, the fluid would go to that side. It was perfectly painful and awful! Everyone insisted I still go to church for Easter service. So trying to be inconspicuous I went. As we were walking up to the church doors Jade said, “Aunt Patti, your face is jiggling when you walk!” I couldn’t believe I was out in public…but I ignored my bouncing face and walked up to the church doors and entered Christian World for the first time.
I just THOUGHT my life had changed before. LOL, I hadn’t seen anything yet!!!
End Page 6
Patti Corbello Archer