I didn’t know what love was or how it could change your life until I was almost 20 years old… when Stephanie and I met and began to explore a force so strong we knew it would connect us forever. Neither of us expected to fall in love – to, in fact, have love in our lives at all. I was brought up in an abusive family, eventually ending up in a group home… there was no stability, I was doing my best to just survive. But then Stephanie came into my life; she herself was struggling to get out of a dangerous relationship. She became my my rock. We showed each other a whole new way to live – because of her, I stopped surviving and started living. To this day, Stephanie continues to bring me experiences I never knew possible, she enriches my life on every level.
When you’re that young, in love, and in essence just starting out in life after a troubled past, the last thing on your mind is “What if one of us gets sick… what if we are not together forever?” In fact, you would be deemed emotionally unhealthy if these thoughts occupied your thinking! So when we were nine years into our relationship – both of us barely twenty-five years old – and Stephanie’s body starting to fail, of course we weren’t prepared. We weren’t expecting this. But, we did what any strong couple would do; we dug in. We dealt. We found a way.
There was never any question that I would be Stephanie’s caretaker. I didn’t fall in love with her because she was healthy and ready to literally climb mountains. It was challenging at first, but doable and not overly demanding. However, her body and capabilities deteriorated pretty quickly. Soon I had to give up one part-time job, then the other. Stephanie’s diagnosis was slow in coming, and, therefore, aid for medical bills was non-existent.
I suddenly understood what the term “at wits end” meant. Fortunately, we didn’t quite get there, thanks to our friend, Jordan who told us about JEVS at Home. We gave them a call and Ellen Shimberg got us started almost immediately. I was earning money based on my caregiving for Stephanie and JEVS at Home has been there for us ever since. “From additional services to advice, Ellen is our biggest advocate and I don’t know where we’d be without her and JEVS at Home.”
If I had to sum this whole story up: Stephanie rescued me at my darkest time, I rescued her, and now JEVS at Home has rescued us. Would we have survived without them? Yes. We would have found a way. But it wouldn’t be with me caring for Stephanie. JEVS at Home has empowered us with the best of both – I can continue to care for her, she can continue to inspire my life, and we will soon be financially stable, especially as Ellen advocates for nighttime hours to help with Stephanie’s severe diagnosis. JEVS at Home has given us peace of mind. It quite possibly has given me a new path for life too… as Stephanie gets stronger I very much hope to pursue the path of caregiving and getting my certification.
People who first hear our story comment, “How sad to be so young and facing such hardship in your relationship.” That’s not how we view our situation at all and JEVS at Home has a great deal to do with this. Sure, maybe Stephanie and I may not literally climb that mountain, but every day we reach a new height.