Life After…

Justin - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Entered on October 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I am blessed with a good life. I grew up with parents that loved me, schools that gave me an education, college opportunities that have lead me to a master’s degree. I’m married with a fantastic twenty-month old son. We have a house with a great yard, and recently found a used hybrid car. I teach in a great school, with great colleagues and students.

I appreciate all of this even more because of what a lot of people don’t know. In the summer of 2005 my life fell apart. My wife was finally 41 weeks pregnant after having been through two miscarriages. We went to the doctor’s office for a non-stress test for our son, Garrett, and they could not find his heartbeat. After a doctor with the bedside manner of sledgehammer delivered the news, we found out my wife would be induced, and she would still have to deliver our son whom we already knew to be dead. I will spare you any more details of that nightmare.

Flash forward two weeks to when we were trying to keep our new kitten and our old cat from killing each other. I lifted a bottle of cat pheromones and it fell from my hand. Two fingers on my hand wouldn’t work, and the last coherent sentence I was able to speak was to my wife, “Get me to the hospital.” Two weeks after my son Garrett was stillborn, I was having a stroke at age 29. Thankfully, the symptoms only lasted about 20 minutes, after which I made a full recovery.

The next few months were spent inside my head, with questions that had no answers. My wife and I struggled through with support from our loved ones. Eventually, we saw past the grief to more life. We are blessed with a son. We are blessed to live in a beautiful house. We are blessed with the knowledge that the hole in my heart that likely caused my stroke has been closed. I could fill books with the blessings we have.

I’ve met others who have been through their own hells, yet they don’t talk about it, and that’s too bad. If it comes up, I’m talking. It’s not about bombarding others with my life, or giving too much information about my personal life. As a teacher, it’s my opportunity to show others life does go on, and it is beautiful.