Photograph of Rachel and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Photo credit: Martha Manning Photography
I blog for the government’s disability website, Disability.gov If you haven’t visited, do so; it’s cool, comfy, and inspiring. At a recent look-see, I plopped into a story about Rachelle Friedman, written by the person who knows her best — herself.
You might remember her story. Last year, at Rachelle’s bachelorette party, a friend’s playful gesture resulted in a spinal cord injury when Rachelle was pushed into the swimming pool.
The wedding was as sweet as weddings always are; maybe even bittersweet. By necessity, the wedding was delayed until Rachelle was recovered enough physically. Because of the weight she lost, Rachelle’s wedding dress fit differently. And the couple’s first dance brought the guests to tears.
At her age, Rachelle has had to face, career-wise, what is usually faced much later in life. Changing careers is generally a choice, but not for her. As a Program Coordinator, Rachelle planned and taught classes like line dancing and aerobics to seniors. She calls herself an “unreliable employee” now, one who can’t be counted on as a 9-5 employee because of low blood pressure and nerve pain.Re-focusing, this young woman looks to doing more speaking.
Unsure of a definite direction, this young woman wants to make a career out of public speaking, maybe relationship coaching (which is how we got acquainted.) Not surprisingly, judging from her first career choice, Rachelle’s into helping others. She still wants to be inspiring and educating to others.
What happened to Chris and Rachelle is one of those “out of time” things; being disabled young is like a long prison sentence — no choice but to serve it out. Besides the emotional disruption, the financial cost been significant, too. Being disabled isn’t cheap, and earning potential all but disappears.
So much of this couple’s future can’t be imagined, and is one that certainly wasn’t planned. While they don’t yet know it, this couple’s future will be different in another way, too: the love and compassion they have for each other now will be small in comparison to what it will one day be.
Next time, I talk with Rachelle about marriage, sex, and the fishbowl of being a disabled hero.
Kathe Skinner is a Relationship Coach, Certified Relationship Expert and Marriage & Family Therapist in Colorado where she conducts communication workshops for couples, pre-married’s, the invisibly disabled, and the over 50 crowd. Kathe enjoys collaborating with other professionals in order to reach more relationships affected by hidden disability. She sits on the Executive Board of the Invisible Disabilities Association, is a regular contributor to Disability.gov., and is an ardent-and-natural-teacher-without-a-classroom. She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 30 years. More about Kathe at www.BeingHeardNow.com.