Ian and Larissa were dating in 2006 when an awful car crash left Ian severely brain-damaged. The road to recovery was, and still is, long and ongoing. Yet Larissa made a choice to stay by his side through it all. She is still standing beside him today as his wife. They married in 2010.
As someone who has spent a lot of time in hospitals, this book brought me a fair amount of PTSD. However, I could not stop reading because the story of what God was doing in their lives was even more compelling. More powerful.
Throughout the story I kept thinking, “Why is she staying? Why is she choosing disability?” She could have easily left and no one would have blamed her. But she didn’t.
As a mother of a disabled child I don’t get that choice. Sure, I expected to make sacrifices for my kids when I chose to become a parent, but how could I ever know that I would have a son with a severe disability that meant he would be totally and completely dependent on me for his care well into adulthood. And even though I spend way too much time ruminating on “What if this never happened?” I’m daily forced into the reality of what is, and the commitment I made, and re-make to my child every day. I’m just living the life I was given. That’s what I think makes Larissa’s story point even more to the grace and love of God. She committed to a lifetime of loving, knowing full well the incredible sacrifice that would be required of her. She knew the extent of the burden she was taking on and she still said, “Yes!”
That’s supernatural love.
So much in her story resonated with mine, especially this:
The progress that Ian was making wasn’t changing my grief. With two years under my belt, I was learning that the only thing time did to grief was make it more dull. It wasn’t the same intensity as when we were in the hospital but instead it was taking root and permanence. I was learning that this grief, the grief of a brain injury, wasn’t going to end. I was starting to see that I would forever on earth be grieving a death of Ian as I sat and cheered him on in therapy. Even as Ian would come to know Christ more, he would also come to know loss more, every day, every day that he woke up with legs and arms and a brain that didn’t work like he wanted… He’s still accomplishing, still gaining, and God is still working in him. We can’t accept the ‘nots,’ the assumption that Ian is unable to do things. Because nothing is ever accomplished by not trying.”
Reading Larissa’s story showed me that she wasn’t choosing disability, she was choosing a person. She did it because of love. Only the love of God flowing through her would enable her, you, me, anyone to love this radically. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) There is a lesson of the greater love of God in this book that absolutely applies to everyone.
And the verse that inspired the story…
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28
My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!
Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!