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By Forrest Hershberger
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Celebrating No. 29

 

September 15, 2022 | View PDF

It started in the work environment. I had a routine every morning. Young in the trade, routine was even more important than it is now.

I would make four to five stops before getting to the office in the morning. At one of those stops, I met a night crew of nurses. They had the look of professionals who finished a long and hard night.

Among that crew stood one who had a twinkle in her eye like even with her occupation she didn’t take life too seriously. She also had the look of someone I had always known, even though we barely knew each other in high school.

Don’t get ahead of me. I’m getting there.

Still feeling between college age and “adulthood,” I dismissed the moment as a few seconds of emotional exchange, or was it flirting. Until… until I showed up at my home church one night and she was there. She was there with a laughter that defined enjoyment of life regardless of what lay ahead.

The first date was at her home: homemade dinner. Not a bad deal for the first date. In that period I learned she was also a mom of a young girl just as blond as she. As years progressed, we would have fun with people thinking I was her father biologically.

I wish I could count the number of people who say “you are always there for me” in reference to their best friend on significant other. I can say the same, for both of us. We’ve had a whirlwind adventure to this point.

Some of those adventures were monumental, statistically splitting most couples.

We were at a community where we both lost our jobs in a couple of days. At one point we sat on the porch, in a community we had no history in, wondering what we should do next. It was a harsh experience accepting we didn’t know what the next chapter held.

I found an opportunity to move us closer to family, which by itself came with challenges.

I kept following my calling, even with a few “sabbaticals” along the way. My wife stayed true to her heart for caring about people. She had medical experiences I believe even surprised her, developing a resume that would stand up against people with higher degrees.

By this point, I was looking at bigger markets, but turned down one opportunity when I saw the social trend. I didn’t want to put our daughter in what I saw happening. The early teen years can be hard enough without reports of metropolitan turmoil. By then I decided family vs career, the family will always win.

One of the most traumatic chapters in our 29 years is when in 2006 when we got the phone call. It was the phone call that plays a critical part in movies. It is the kind of call that completely rewrites the future,and everything around it.

The phone call came about 12:30 in the morning. It came from her best friend, not official channels. She was in an accident, and she didn’t survive.

This Is a part of our history I’ve told a few times. I tell it because it is important. I tell it because we are not alone, nor are other families who have had similar experiences. Statistics show the divorce rate in grieving families can be as high as 80 percent, which leads to the question “How do you do it?” The easy answer is "we just do." The deeper answer is we're not alone; we have a comforter.

We continue for a few reasons. We chose early or to not be a statistic. We know of couples who see their hurt or blame in the other person, further separating them. We deliberately remain aware of when each other is having a day.

Some of Jill’s close friends have become our “adopted children.” We choose not to let the event, the tragedy, define us. Most of all, even in our hurt and anger, we recognized God’s presence.

I say all this to recognize there are some chapters in our lives a person cannot make it alone. It is those moments we are reminded we are not designed to go through life alone. It is those moments relationships are tested and proven. For us, we are at 29 years because we stayed the course, even when things are not happy, when there are more questions than answers.

Happy anniversary my bride.

 

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