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Happily, Ever After

Of course they are familiar with all the fairy tale movies, they grew up watching them, they have enjoyed them while dating, and now they sit through them with their kids. They have been married for 15 years and they are living Happily Ever After.


Mak & Isor met when they were in their early twenties. They grew up thousands of miles away from each other and their environment couldn’t be more different.


Her adoring grandma raised Isor. She lived modestly. Life was beautifully uncomplicated. She learned to do her hair, prepare meals, clean the house, do homework, and work to make a living.


Mak grew up surrounded by brothers and a sister. Raised by both of his parents, he was sheltered from difficulty. He mastered the roughness of being a boy and developed his ability to deal with many people at the same time.


It was a regular afternoon. Mak got ready to go to work and Isor got ready to go to dance, but what they didn’t know is that their paths were aligning themselves to comply with their destiny.


Life brought them together.


Their two worlds collided and they began to date. They clicked pretty much instantly. They fell in love and got married sixteen months after they first laid eyes on each other.


It wasn’t long after they got married that Isor became pregnant with twins. 


Mak, as a member of the military, was called to the front after the United States invaded Iraq. At the time, he had two fragile babies at home, dependent on oxygen tanks and heart monitor machines. Isor was being left alone to juggle through her new mother duties, a deployed husband, and a blooming career. How can this marriage survive? 


There were eighteen months where Mak was concentrating on staying sane and alive. Same eighteen months where Isor was giving her all to keep their two premature children alive, going to work and staying normal.


The distance wasn’t the only thing putting a strain on their marriage. The lack of communication due to both their schedules while living in different time zones, the empathy of what they were experiencing on their own, Mak as a deployed soldier in harms ways, Isor being the wife of that deployed soldier and single motherhood, for Mak parenthood without the opportunity to be a parent, and for both, the absence of a real marriage.   


Isor’s outings were carefully planned, as she had to carry two car seats, two oxygen tanks, and two heart monitors. She couldn’t allow herself to think, not even imagine “what if?” It wouldn’t have been healthy or productive. She lived each day in the present. She often told herself, one more day equals one day less and we’ll be back together. Her days were packed between taking care of the twins, working full-time the graveyard shift, going to doctors’ appointments, and hoping to be able to talk to Mak.


But what was Mak thinking? Was he resenting not being a parent? A husband? Being with his family?


His days were a different type of complicated. Mak would scout the streets of Iraq for IEDs while staying safe, waiting to be dismissed from his daily duties, and hoping his phone call home would go through.


Hope kept them going. 


Time passed. 

Eighteen months were gone. 

Even though at the moment it seemed that time was moving slower than they would’ve liked it, Mak was on his way home. Seventy-five hundred miles and almost a full day of air travel later, they met again as if it were their first date.


Emotion took over preventing them from thinking or asking themselves­ –Has war changed us? Are we still in love? Are we still committed to this relationship? Would the changes we have gone through individually tear us apart?


Oh, there were changes, huge changes.  Isor couldn’t grasp the idea of having to share or even having to discuss important financial decisions with Mak. She had been doing it on her own for so long that it felt weird, restraining! And Mak didn’t understand that his free time wasn’t longer just his. They needed to re-learn and re-adjust to this new phase in their lives. To live married in marriage!


They took time to get to know each other again. They had changed. They developed strengths they didn’t know they had, and were disappointed on the discovery of each other’s bad habits.

This time around the adjustment was mindful, compared to when they were inexperienced and a bit immature newlyweds. Not this time. This time they had lived. They had two children in common. They had grown. They had a better understanding of their true feelings. And they had plenty tug of wars. 


Commitment kept them going.


Four years later, a third daughter joined their family. The next year, a boy and the following, another girl. In eight years they were a family of seven. What a happy time! 


But little did they know of all the afflictions that were going to be thrown at them.


The twins were diagnosed. One had cerebral palsy combined with multiple disabilities and the other, autism with ADHD. Caring for these two girls took most of their time. Time that they took from their other three children to satisfy the needs of the twins. Hospitalizations, emergencies, surgeries, illnesses, therapies, daily constant assistance and supervision was their daily routine.


And then after ten years of marriage, and at the age of four, their third daughter had a stroke! 

Their world stopped along with hers. There was no voice. There was no movement. Her life was in danger. Mak and Isor held hands and prayed.

Isor stayed with her daughter twenty-one days in intensive care. Days were long; the hours were occupied with therapy and treatments. Their daughter needed to re-learn to communicate, swallow, be potty trained, walk, eat, drink, and talk all over again. It was a lot of work for her to learn to control her own body.


If they thought they were busy before all this happened, now their lives really became hectic. They had three children that depended almost entirely on them plus two children they didn’t want to neglect. Also a marriage being tested to its limits and maybe, if possible, finding time in their personal life to decompress, breathe and keep going.


Was this going to be their breaking point? Were they going to cleave to each other or become strangers?


Isor has always been a master of organization. So she did what she does best. She re-organized everyone’s schedules and fit in everything that was needed to get the things done. While Mak, a master of entertainment, kept bringing in the fun and working hard to provide for his family.


When they thought that life was finally settling down, all were adapting to the circumstances, another curveball was thrown.


Do they ever get a break? 


The following year, their son was diagnosed with a heart condition that must be monitored yearly until needed surgery. Yes, they thought on bubble wrapping him. 


They were so preoccupied for him, that they controlled him from being too active. Running too much, jumping too much, getting too excited, climbing too much, from doing ANYTHING too much! For two years, everything was too much. Until they realized they needed to let him live his life. And when the moment comes to run to the emergency room, to deal with it.


Yes, more news was coming. Their daughter with the stroke also has a heart condition, which probably caused the stroke. 

And they still are trying to decide if surgery is the best option.


Faith kept them going.


They had years living under stress, dedicated to their special needs children and devoted to all their children. Accustomed to their situation they had pulled, ached, and come to the other side together. You might think, is their marriage based on their children?


Not so fast.


Isor and Mak fell in love almost at first sight but enduring their trials together has made their love stronger. They have grown apart several times. And have thought they couldn’t do it together anymore, yet they couldn’t live without the other. Those not-so-good habits they despise in each other can lead to contentious time. However, the attributes that both of them possess; patience, humor, honesty, trust, positivity, compassion, flexibility, understanding, responsibility, forgiving, and love are bigger than anything else.


They know that being mad at the same time is not healthy. They know they truly love each other so when times get tough, they have learned to let time heal. They enjoy each other’s presence. They make sure to secure intimate time together. When times are hard they press forward together. They know that life is not a fairy tale but they can make a tale of their home life. They get up everyday with the disposition to cherish each other and to let the other person know how important and loved they are. 


Through pain, through illness, through anger, through discouragement, through easy times, through happiness, and through life and whatever it might bring, Isor and Mak are determined to live and are living their Happily Ever After.


Love keeps them going.

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