Today I thought I’d do something a little different: I’m not going to talk about me. I’m going to talk about my husband. Why? Because there were more people injured in my accident than just me.
I met my husband in summer 2010 over Facebook, introduced by a mutual friend. He seemed like the sort of guy I would be interested in: he had funny pictures of himself with hats on, there was a full-sized Boba Fett standee in his bedroom as a teen, and he had that physical appearance I’ve always been drawn to – short and ginger. (A university friend once teased me that my children will be transparent. He might not have been wrong.) We started talking via Messenger, and when we felt comfortable enough with one another, he gave me his phone number and we began texting. He was funny, sarcastic, easily embarrassed by compliments, and angry. Our first telephone conversation began with him ranting about how the old ladies at JYSK were useless. I remember one not long afterward about the insanity that is IKEA on any given day. At the time, I just figured he needed something to vent about, and when he told me he was hanging out with the Padre from the base, I figured he was in the right place to be. In those early days, I had my phone with me and a smile on my face at all times.
When he came for a course in Kingston, we met in person and it was love at first sight (for me). We were inseparable. And despite having a messy divorce in progress, in just over a month he got drunk enough to finally admit he loved me too. It was awful when the course was done and he had to leave. Like cutting a limb off. But you know what made it all better? He wasn’t as angry any more, and the people who knew him saw the changes that had come from being with me. I heard it from his mother, from the Padre, from his friends: he became a different, better man after he met me. They were all worried that he had been about to flame out, and now here he was, ready to take on the world again. We only lasted about two months apart before I dropped everything and moved three provinces away to a town I could barely find on a map. But we were happy. Delirious.
|Taken at my cousin’s wedding, November 2010|
Then the accident. It was only six months after we had moved in together, less than a year since we had met for the first time. We had just moved into our own place two weeks prior after having shared a house with another soldier. I was wearing a promise ring on my left hand. Things were perfect.
And then they weren’t.
Matt tells me that the instant he realized what all the phone calls were about, he left the base without looking back, not even to tell his CO where he was going. When he arrived at the ER, they briefed him on my condition before he came to see me. But he was so calm when he did, I felt like everything would be okay. He drove up to Calgary when they took me by air alone. He stayed with me there as long as he could, and when they moved me from intensive care and began talking about sending me back to the Hat, he left to catch up on what he had missed at work before I arrived. Once I was settled in back home, he came every night after work and stayed until I fell asleep. On the weekends he took Saturday morning to run errands and then spent the rest with me. He would come home from work, my newly-arrived mum would pack him and I a supper, he would change and come to the hospital, eat with me, talk with me, tuck me in, and then go home exhausted. When he got home, my mum would hand him a glass of red wine and they would talk while he killed people with his PS3.
He was there every day for me, even when he was suffering from severe Scotch poisoning and throwing up blue Gatorade in my sink. When I walked for the first time without my casts, I was ecstatic and so was he. He proposed that night, and whether serendipity or a grand design, it was the anniversary of the night that Cpl. Hornburg was killed in Afghanistan. In four short years he had gone through so much, and here he was promising to go through whatever else life brought us with me, forever.
|Dressed for Moreuil Wood, March 2013|
I was the most physically injured victim of my accident, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other victims too. Matt was most certainly one. As the Padre pointed out, he fulfilled his duty of “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” long before he took the vows. I could not have done what I have done without him. He was strong enough to sit beside me through all the awful things; as a result, every day I hope to be strong enough to stand beside him. We both look a lot older now than we did when we met. 50 years from now, we will be older still. But I don’t doubt for a second that we will still be together. We are too much part of one another to be otherwise.