There are no how-to manuals in life for when the bottom falls out from under you. When my husband and I watched the bottom fall out beneath us in the summer of 2013, following an accident that resulted in his losing the ability to work in his trade as a carpenter, we were shocked and scared.
Having relocated to Florida from Michigan with our three boys just a month before, our hope to improve our lives with hard work and new opportunities fell away. Unable to work and with no surgery to repair his injury, my husband would have to find a new line of work. We have never expected someone else to do what we could do for ourselves. Still, we realized we would need support from family and friends back in Michigan to get through this unexpected turn of events. We made the decision to move back.
Back home, with nowhere to live (family did not live in our hometown), we first lived in a friend’s basement. Here we were in our early 40s, our savings dwindling, watching our boys sleep on our friend’s couches. My husband was dealing with daily pain from his injury while he considered what to do next. I felt a depth of despair I’d never known existed.
Still, we had to take steps to get re-established. We moved into a two-bedroom rental. I took a part-time job at the local middle school. My husband eventually took a desk job that used his knowledge and experience. Many days though, I didn’t know if I had what it takes to come back from all we had lost.
A former Marine, my husband does not know the meaning of “quit”. His example is an inspiration to me and our boys. On a particularly long, hard day, I asked him, “What will become of us?” He replied, “I don’t know. The only thing I know is to keep going. So that’s what I’m going to do.” That was a defining moment for me. My husband has overcome great challenges, both when he was deployed overseas and as we rebuilt our lives. He exemplifies a resilience that is key to the American Spirit. That resilience, embodied in a trust in God and refusal to quit, became our foundation for building a new life.
For us, the American Spirit means building a new bottom when the old one falls out from under you. Over the next five years, we rebuilt. In our loss, I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life — resilience. Apart from it, this country would never have come into existence. So many who came before us faced unparalleled challenges I can barely comprehend. Yet they believed their own stories would play into the establishment of a great experiment for something better. I came to realize my own resilience was necessary for our future. I had a responsibility to keep building — to not quit.
In 2018, we finally purchased a new home. In 2020, we launched our small business from our home. Our ultimate dream to be self-employed became reality. Albeit hard, our loss was a gift. It taught me to not be afraid to start over. There are so many places in the world where this would not be true. Ten years on, our boys are now young men who watched us rebuild; who learned to be resilient themselves. They share in our dreams for the future. We are all humbled and proud to be citizens in a country where people can indeed begin again.