Stronger than You Think
Every Christmas season, I search for women who show courage, strength and beauty. Many times as women, we do not feel like we hold these qualities and are often too hard on ourselves. Sometimes we need friends to remind us how amazing we are.
The nomination letter from her friend Emily-
I am nominating my friend, Stacey from North Dakota for the Ambrosia Necklace (what a fabulous tradition, by the way).
Stacey is an extremely strong woman but could use some sparkle in her life.
About a year ago, while her husband John, my boyfriend, and I were in Texas working, John suffered a massive stroke. I called Stacey right after it happened, and she immediately flew down from North Dakota. We were there with her when the doctors told her that his chances of survival were slim; after John shook those odds and passed the dangerous window of time, we were there with her when the doctors said his ability to walk and talk would most likely be minimal; we were there when Stacey learned the love of her life would never have the same capabilities he had had his entire life and throughout their entire marriage.
Through all of this, Stacey remained steadfast and strong. Privately, she told me how terrified she was, how sad she was, and how unfair she thought it was. She stood strong for her husband though and told him he would learn to walk and talk again—no matter what.
John and Stacey are one of most perfect couples—the kind of couple people think only exist in books or movies. Even after years and years of marriage, they still look at each other full of love. They are also just good people—and would do anything for anyone—simply for the joy of helping others. They complement each other perfectly, and are both strong—individually—and for/ with each other.
It was just a couple days after the massive stroke where John was walking in the hospital. The doctors were beyond surprised and impressed—and said it was short of a miracle that it would ever happen—let alone as fast as it did. Stacey kept cheering John on through this time. His speech improved, but it would become John’s biggest obstacle to overcome—even today.
After eventually being released from the hospital, they resumed life in North Dakota. Stacey became John’s full time caretaker where she helped drive him to his different weekly therapy sessions that he had in different cities. John still struggles to speak and be understood to this day, but slow progress is occurring—largely because of Stacey’s unwavering support for John.
When I ask privately as Stacey how she is doing, she says fine but becomes exhausted—and has felt that hospitals and therapy centers are their new life and her only purpose in life now. I remind her that John would not have come this far without her, and as their friend, I appreciate everything she does for him—and how strong she is, for him.
Although she is a strong woman, I do believe everyone has weak moments. That is why I believe the necklace would be appreciated by Stacey—I want her to know that her purpose is beyond being John's caretaker--and when she wore the necklace, that she could be reminded that others see the strength she has; how completely selfless she is; and how even when presented with a challenge, she lives her wedding vows of still standing by John and loving him “for better or worse…in sickness and in health.” The necklace could serve as a symbol to her of her strength and love for John—and that no matter, you can always find a little “sparkle,” even in the darkest of places.