Me With You

“Oftentimes you find love where you least expect it. Sometimes it takes you where you never expected to go.” - Me Before You

I’m sure you’ve heard about the film Me Before You. Its been causing a stir and backlash from the disability community. Maybe you read the book? Maybe you chose to go see the film, or not. This is not about convincing you either way. Nor is it about physician assisted suicide.

This is my story of finding love, neither expected or unexpected.

Once upon a time a 19 year old girl left her small northern town for a big city university. She knew no one. She flourished. Made new friends, and just like so many others she met her Prince Charming. The years went by. Two degrees, a nursing career, marriage and a family. A relationship of give and take, highs and lows. Really my story is not any different than countless others.

Except, my Prince Charming has a physical disability.

5 things I’ve learned sharing a life with a person with a disability.

1. There is always an elephant in the room.

When you meet someone there are the standard questions. Are you married? Kids? Where do you live? Work? What does your husband do? If this is a simple encounter we don’t get into many details, just small talk. But if this is going to be a relationship that continues, at some point the fact that my husband doesn’t have hands is going to come up. Or should it? I’ve tried it both ways and in the end the fact will remain – he’s going to reach out and shake your hand just like everyone else. So, what would you prefer to know before you shake his prosthesis or not?

2. People make assumptions about me.

They assume my partner had an accident after we were together. Not the case. And no, I was not his nurse which is a common assumption. I fell in love and I chose this life.

3. We can’t all be good at everything.  

Everyone has things they aren’t good at.Changing a light bulb is next to impossible without hands. But  washing dishes in boiling hot water or taking a hot casserole out of the oven – is no problem with metal hooks! It wasn’t until I was alone one afternoon that I realized I needed to go buy some oven mitts. Recognizing each others strengths and weakness make a relationship work.

3. It takes work.

I am proud to have been the wife of a man that stands out in a crowd and has had many accomplishments. But, I also know what it’s like to walk into a room and feel invisible, to have to work a little harder to be noticed in a room full of people.

4. Patience is a virtue.

When you see someone you love struggling, whether that is your partner, child or friend you want to step in. That doesn’t always mean that you should. There are times to stand back and wait for them to ask for help.

5. Perceptions of people with disabilities has changed.

I’ve been on this journey for 30 years and things have changed. We receive fewer stares, and even rarer are the people that approach us at dinner to comment about how inspiring we are.

Brenda McCarthy

Tags: advocacy, amputee, inspiration