I recently got married and the biggest question I get asked is “how did I do it with Isabella”? Well it required some “out of the box” thinking. My husband, Joe and I knew each other from growing up in the same town. He had read about Isabella’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and reached out to me. From the very beginning our relationship was not typical. After all, we do not have a typical life. Traditional dating was replaced with hanging out when Isabella was asleep. We got engaged at home with Isabella. When it came time to get married, we knew we had to be creative.
Isabella’s ABI has left her with debilitating anxiety. She has no control over mood, behavior, emotions, coping etc. Given the severity of Isabella’s condition, a traditional wedding was never going to work. Truth be told, Joe and I didn’t even want that. We decided from the very beginning that there was no way we would get married without her. It was decided that it would be the three of us and a minister. The ceremony was set up to be very short and simple. We decided to record the ceremony because we wouldn’t have pictures other than those that the minister took at the end.
We decided to get married at a local secluded park. We wanted to do it in the early morning on a weekday to ensure that the park would not have people in it. I contacted the town, I explained my daughter’s ABI and the reason that I needed the park. The town gave us a permit for an hour (we only needed a few minutes) and were offered a permit for a secondary location should it rain. I started bringing Isabella to the park regularly so we could practice. Each time I would put her in her stroller and walk the same route to the little pond where we would get married.
When our day finally arrived, we were all very excited. Isabella and I wore the sundresses that we had picked out. I had my sunflower and daisy bouquet; Isabella had her basket of rose petals to throw just like she wanted. The weather was beautiful. Our ceremony went as planned- short and to the point just like we had wanted. We took a few pictures and it was done. The rest of the day the three of us spent time doing the things that we love at home. Our day had its ups and downs, but everyday does. For us, the day was perfect.
I am telling our wedding story for two reasons. The first reason, when your child has a brain injury, your life as you once knew (and planned) is over but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t find happiness. The happiness will be an altered version from what you may have originally thought but you can find it if you try. Our life is far from perfect but we find happiness in the simple joys of everyday life. On our wedding day we cherished the moments that we had. It was the second happiest day of my life, the first being the day that Isabella woke up. The second reason I am sharing our wedding story is because when your child has a brain injury over time most of the people that swore they would be there for you walk out. As those people were leaving, my future husband was walking in. Often times we get so focused on the losses that we miss the possible opportunities. Alexander Graham Bell once said “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” I am so glad that I opened that door.
Guest Blogger, Kristin Olliney-Apruzzese, is the mother of 8-year-old Isabella, who suffered sudden acute encephalitis when she was just 4. Kristin’s bi-monthly blog, Mommy of a Miracle, talks about the trials and joys of raising a brain injury survivor.
Legal Statement: The information contained in this blog does not reflect the specific views of BIA-MA. This blog is published for informational purposes only. BIA-MA is not providing medical, legal or other professional advice with its publication.