Hemingway once said, “We are stronger in the places we’ve been broken.” I have found this to be true.

As I sat in the dark hospital room watching my newly awoken husband stare at the wall, my mother-in-law turned to me. It had been four days since the accident. Four days since he’d smiled, eaten or even said a word. Four days since everything changed.

We were sitting in our fixed seats on the bench of the room, both waiting. For what, I don’t know. Improvement, change, anything that suggested he was still there, still him. The blinds were pulled shut and the lights were off because early on, the brightness of the world hurt his head and eyes, like he was constantly struggling to wake up.

She said, “You will come out of this stronger. You will be an Amazon woman when this whole thing is through.”

I didn’t believe her. I didn’t want to be stronger. I didn’t want any of it. I would have sacrificed a lifetime of strength for the chance to rewind, to go back to before. But that’s the funny thing about strength. It’s not really a choice. You don’t decide to be strong, you just are. You get through it whether you want to or not. And in my case, I had two very real reasons to get through it, to be strong; my boys. Then, 5 years old and 5 months old, they needed me. My husband was in limbo, and there was no guarantee he would ever come back.

It’s been 4 ½ years since that day. And now I can say that like Hemingway, my mother-in-law was right. I am stronger. But here’s the thing we didn’t expect:

my husband’s stronger too.

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