Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Soon To Be New Wheels!!!

I have to take a deep breath before I write this.
Because if I don't, I will just cry and cry and none of this will ever get written.

We have been blessed with an incredible gift.
That is a van.
That is going to be OUR van. Very soon.
It doesn't even feel real.

This van has a ramp, so that Michael can get into the vehicle himself.
It has a place for him to sit in his wheelchair, and ride UP FRONT, beside me.

After our Summer vacation - when we drove half way across the country and back - we decided to finally start looking for a wheelchair van.  My back aches from all of the lifting.

Michael has had a couple of wheelchair vans in the past. He had a giant red wheelchair van when we were dating that I HATED. It was so huge, it felt like a sailboat in the wind on the highway.  And he had to ride in the back, and I would be driving in the front. This made me feel like a taxi driver and it was so AWFUL.

I will never forget the FREEDOM and JOY I felt the day I realized I could pick Michael up and put him in the front seat of my SUV.  It meant we could go places, just us, NOT in the giant red taxi bus. We got rid of that thing so fast.  Not that it wasn't great. It was, when Michael was single.  All men learn that the world becomes a different place when you get married, right? Pretty much everything from your former life is replaced.
For the last three years, every time we have gone somewhere together (not counting a couple of times friends or his brother lifted him), I literally did a deep squat, picked my husband up, put him in the front seat of our SUV, then put his wheelchair (which weighs more than 60 lbs.) in the back.  It was fine, at first.  Over the last year, we have HARDLY ever gone to church because of this situation.  My back began to hurt.  Transfers are harder when we have to park at a curb, or on a hill. I am proud to report that I have only fallen once, and no, I did not drop him!! The big lifting makes me sweaty and gross, and well after doing it for two and a half years, I was ready to get over my pride and I finally realized that a van with a wheelchair ramp was not going to create any more of a scene than a 5'2" woman lifting a grown man into an SUV.

Several weeks ago, I was in my hotel room in Salt Lake City.  I was traveling for work.  Derek McConnell called me.  He told me that he and his fiancee, Krystina, were going to be getting a new wheelchair van, and they wanted to give us the van they have been using.  They received this van as a gift from someone in their community, and they wanted to pass it along as a gift to US!

We were the first people that came to mind, they said. Mind blowing.

Derek was wounded by an IED blast in Afghanistan almost exactly one year ago.  He lost both of his legs, and nearly lost his right arm.  He is a friend of my brother's.  I will never forget the day my brother told me about what happened.  I will never forget the day my brother was home on leave, and my family went with him to the hospital to visit Derek.

It changed me.

Over the last year, we have had the pleasure of getting to know Derek, Krystina, and Derek's mom, Siobhan.  Together, they make "Team Derek."
They will be our friends, for life. I know it. Just knowing them has been a gift.
Now, they're blessing us with this amazing, life-changing gift.

I can't believe this is really happening.  I've already cried about it once. So has my sister. So has my mom.  And I think my brother even teared up when I called to tell him about it.

I never in a million years would have thought I'd be SO EXCITED to get behind the wheel of a minivan!
But I am!
Oh, I so am.

Derek and Krystina, THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER.  Thank you to your parents, for raising incredibly giving young adults. Thank you to the person who originally donated this van to Derek.  We are so grateful.  We will use this for good things, I promise!


Anonymous said...

WONDERFUL!!! I am SO excited for you both!!

sjkrupp said...

You can add me to the list of criers! Super happy for you guys! Much love, Stacia

Unknown said...

Amazing news. Brought tears to my eyes reading your great news

Anonymous said...

That is just awesome. I have been meaning to ask how the van search was coming along. I sense a road trip coming soon...maybe somewhere between us and you?? Congrats and you guys deserve it. :)

Amber Stoner

Lina Monges said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane Moody said...

Just saw your post. It's 9:45 p.m. after a long day. I'm unplugging because we have yet another electrical storm thundering nearby . . . and I read your post and tears are streaming down my face, Dana. The HAPPIEST news! I could not possibly be happier for you! THANK GOD for Derek and Krystina - paying it forward. Oh my gosh. I've gotta unplug and I'm a blubbering mess here! Love you guys! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Lina Monges said...

This is great news! I'm so happy for you guys :-) Such a blessing....God bless Derek and Kristina for their wonderfully generous offering. Congrats and enjoy ur soon to be new wheels Dana and Mike.

Jenn [ Crippled Girl ] said...

I am so overwhelmed by the blessings that I'm reading about this week! This is seriously SO fantastic! Lots of love to the both of you!! xoxo

Tamara said...

Thank you Derek and Krystina!!!!! Such a great gift!

Anonymous said...

So excited to see how the Lord has blessed you and praising Him with you!! "Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).


Cheri said...

God is so good!! We have a mini van that a bunch of our friends "donated" to us. It makes liked so much easier. I am so happy for you.

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thanks, everyone for sharing in our joy!!! We are so happy and blown away by this amazing blessing!

Mariesa said...

Tears. You are so blessed because you are such a blessing. You bring goodness into your lives because you share goodness with others.
I did giggle a bit when I read this because the last time I was home, playing taxi driver to my dad something happened - never in my life did I think I would be in this situation - when we were in the van where he can sit in the front seat spot, I kept wanting to smack his hand because he wouldn't stop messing with the radio! What a stupid thing, but so simple and so "normal." I hope you have many wonderful moments with this new van!!!

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Thank you, wedding twin! I never would have imagined we would become such close friends online after time and distance separated us, but I'm so thankful for you and your constant encouraging words!