• Tracy Hagler

An open letter to my Husband from a wife who has a chronic illness........

Dear Husband, I want you to know that you have my heart and my respect, I love you for everything you are and for everything you have done for our lives. As I sit here this morning I remember all the wild, crazy things we have done. The trips we have taken, the funny, crazy things that happened while we were on our trips. I have to laugh out loud thinking about it.

I remember, it was maybe our second date and we were riding four wheelers, with friends, up in the mountains. I was riding on the back of your four wheeler and when we got to the top of the mountain, which was way in the middle of no where, your four wheeler tore up. I had to ride with someone else while they pulled your four wheeler back down the mountain, by a chain, with you on it. I could see in your eyes that the masculine side of you was so upset and broke at that point. Your pride was hurt, not that your four wheeler had tore up but that you couldn't drive your date back to safety. I still remember our first kiss came a couple of dates later and it was while we were riding the famous unreliable four wheeler! 😊

I remember the time we went to the Pittsburgh Steelers football game at the Carolina Panthers Stadium. We were completely decked out in our Steelers gear. We tried to find a parking lot where we could pay and park our car at. When we finally found one, we parked and then quickly followed a crowd through a short cut and some trees to the stadium. We didn’t even think to remember where we parked. I mean, who thinks about stuff like that? We were at a Steelers game for goodness sake! So we made it to the stadium and the game was awesome. The stuff didn't hit the fan until we came out. By that time it was dark and all the parking lot signs were gone. We looked at one another and said, “Do you remember where we parked?” Nope, we neither one could remember. We then made three trips around the stadium before your pride would break down and ask a lady who was selling water for directions. When you finally asked her for directions her amazing, helpful response was, "I don't know no directions, all I know is water.” I remember the look on your face, it was priceless! I've never seen you speechless but your mouth dropped and even you didn't have a comeback for that. I still laugh so hard thinking about it! After that we walked a few more laps but we didn't feel so dumb after we passed ten other people who were making laps too because they had also lost their cars. We had left the debit card in the car and had only brought a small amount of cash with us. We didn’t even have enough money to get a taxi back to the hotel. I thought we might get robbed and we would have nothing to hand over to them. But you were there acting all brave and heroic, trying to keep me calm. So, needless to say, it took about four hours of walking around downtown Charlotte til 2am in the morning before we found our car. The car was sitting in a huge parking lot, all by itself, lit up by a bright light. It was like a ray of heaven saying "tadaaaa, here it is dummies". I was almost in tears by that time. It's so funny, now looking back! Sometimes the craziest times make for the most meaningful memories.

I also think back to the time we were saving for a down payment on our house. We were working an insane amount of overtime at our jobs. I would work forty hours Monday through Friday and you were doing the same, we both had the weekends off. Except on the weekends you and Ashlynn would drive me six hours to Nashville and I would work sixteen hour shifts on my days off. You and our daughter would take off to explore Nashville while I was at work. The next day you would then drive us six hours back home and I would sleep on the way. When we got back, we would start the work week all over again. We worked hard, as a team, to provide for our family. However, after a few months of working like this, we were completely exhausted. We needed a break and some time to recuperate.

We decided to take off on a cruise to the Bahamas. It was exactly what we needed. Oh my gosh, the food we ate that week! I think I gained ten pounds while on the cruise but I absolutely did not care. That trip was full of laughter, fun and good eating. I remember us laying out in the sun, and somehow we found ourselves in the middle of a "hairy back contest"? Those guys were dancing around, sharing their hair and love with everyone. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in all of my life. We had the most amazing time.

However, looking back on all of this, it seemed to be the calm before the storm. Through all the fun times and laughter we have shared I also want to thank you for standing by me during the hard times. The year, 2017, was a really hard year for us. Your Dad passed away from MS, my younger brother passed away in a car accident and I was suddenly hit with a chronic illness. It’s been a time of grieving, accepting and adjusting to a different life for us. Through all the chaos, we have had our share of arguments but for every time we have gotten it wrong, we have gotten it right a million times more. You and our daughter have been my heros! During this time of having POTS, ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia you have been so compassionate. You never listened to reply, you only listened to understand. You understood my sickness as if you had went through it yourself. I think God has given you that supernatural ability and I'm so thankful. During my relapses I wasn't able to move my body or get up. This sickness I felt seemed to feel like I had taken double rounds of chemotherapy. I felt like I had the flu times 10, fever, shortness of breath, tachycardia, pain, blurred vision, orthostatic intolerance, sensitivity to sound and light. My skin would burn and my spine would be sore to touch. I was unable to eat, I could barely get down a mashed sweet potato a day. I would wake up at night gasping for air and my fingernails would turn blue. I had infection after infection. At times you or I neither one knew if I would wake up the next day. On the days I would say, "I can't do this anymore" you would say the Lord has got this, we have got this, this will pass. You helped me keep my hope when I was losing it and you fought for me. You never missed a doctors appointment. You took off work and drove me six hours away to Vanderbilt, in Nashville TN. to see a specialty doctor. We were there together when we finally got the diagnosis. The diagnosis that said, "Yes, our patients with this disease often times feel as if they are dying.” “Some are completely bedbound and tube fed and have no remissions. Others have cycles of remissions and bedridden phases and 5% sometimes experience a full recovery." I've seen the devastation that this disease brings. As a nurse, I had watched the Netflix movie "Unrest" that told about this illness. I had watched it for continuing education credits. But now, this was a reality for me. My whole life of being able to do things was all of a sudden gone. Being able to work 16 hour shifts, swim, hike, walk for miles and exercise, it was gone. During my relapses my ability to take a shower, do house chores or even walk to the bathroom were gone. The Lord was my Rock. I held on to the hem of his garment. He was the light in the darkness. He was my breath and my ability to go on. And he had given me "you". My rock on earth. My best friend. My husband. You were there when I didn't see a soul for months because I was unable to get out. We cried together, prayed together, laughed together and cherished every moment.

We realize, we now have this new life. All the things I thought I had lost made me see all the important things that I still have. There are all of these things that I can't do during a relapse but there are also all these things that I can do during a remission. Our family time and vacations and every aspect of our lives have changed, for this illness can be unpredictable. But our lives have changed for the better. The peace that we now have, we never had before. Our love is so much stronger. We will never give up on God's healing power or his restoration. We have grown spiritually by leaps and bounds during this season. I am now in a remission period and am back up doing life. I'm choosing to believe that God is healing me at this very moment. I'm just so very grateful that he gave me you. God knew that I needed what you have and you needed what I have. We have truly become one. We have been through more in five years than some people endure their whole lives. We are not the same people we were five years ago, we have changed. God is making us more like his Son. We aren't where we want to be spiritually but we're not where we was either. We both still have strongholds and sin that we battle with but the point is we are growing. We are growing in character, perseverance, love and hope. God turns all things for Good for those who love him. Now looking back, I can see God everywhere in our lives even in the suffering. Sometimes, it’s in our brokenness, where God can truly begin to build something new and lasting inside of us.

I believe our “wedding dance song“ was a prophetic word about the dance we were about to take with the Lord during this season. It reminds me of being a small child, standing on top of our earthly father’s feet in complete faith and reliance that he is leading us perfectly through the dance. That’s what God wants from us, our complete trust. He knows our unique dance. God is building our faith with each move in this dance called life. He is calling us to become like children and to rely on his goodness. Not by what we can see in the natural but to have faith in the things unseen. He is a good, good Father! I love you Jeremy Hagler! With all of me!❤️

#OurWeddingDanceSong #SteffanyGretzinger #WeDance

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