A year ago, a couple faced what they called ‘the toughest year of our lives.’ But they faced it together, and they’re stronger for it.
We see people who stay strong in the face of insurmountable odds in movies and shows all the time, but there are heroes all around us.
Challenges are a part of life. But some have bigger and harder hurdles than others. Their inspiring stories remind us that all we are capable of greatness, that we are strong.
“Ben-Hur” hits theaters in the U.S. on Aug. 19. In preparation, Paramount asked viewers to share their moments of triumph over adversity using the hashtag #mygreatestvictory on social media. This is one of those stories.
On Aug. 13, 2015, Stephen Connolly hopped on his motorcycle and left for work at 4 a.m.
He’d had a tooth extraction the night before, and his wife, Laura was worried that he wasn’t well enough to head into work, especially since, as a warehouse operative, his job is physically demanding. She asked him to stay home, but he reassured her that he was OK.
Three minutes later, he got into an accident that would turn their world upside down.
Fortunately, Stephen’s crash happened right in front of the local police and fire station and was able to receive help immediately.
“Having spoken with 2 police officers who witnessed the full accident it turns out he passed out while driving, slumped forward and accelerated the throttle, the bike lost control and he crashed into a metal bollard and then onto a large tree with the bike coming down on top of him, he was unconscious,” Laura said in an email.
When she got to the hospital, Laura found her husband broken.
Panic set in, but she knew she needed to be strong for him and for their 2-year-old son. And the news wasn’t good. Stephen was alive, but he’d sustained leg and ankle fractures and broken his shoulder and clavicle in seven places.
He was completely bedridden and she’d have to do everything for him.
That realization was hard on both of them. Said Laura, “He tried so hard to be my brave husband but you could see how much pain he was in.” Life as they knew it had changed.
Stephen went from being an extremely independent and hardworking man to his wife’s patient. And Laura found herself balancing being a wife, mother, and caregiver.
Laura cared for Stephen 24/7, bathing him, feeding him, dressing him, and learning how to move him without affecting his healing body. And as they faced complication after complication — bones that wouldn’t heal, extra surgeries, blood clots — she didn’t waver. She said, “It was just a natural thing for me to ensure my husband was pain free, clean…” She takes her wedding vows seriously and “in sickness and health,” she’d pledged to be by his side.
Laura leaned on her friends, family, and neighbors to get her through the darkest days.
She learned to take everything day by day and appreciate whatever kindness was offered. From friends who took their son for walks, to her mother and mother-in-law who dropped everything to care for her son so that she could care for Stephen, to the neighbors who knew what they were going through and dropped groceries off to show their support — every bit of kindness helped.
And most of all, Laura believed that their love would be the anchor holding them both together through the tough times.
She says that she and Stephen always knew they were meant to be, and one song in particular reminded her of that and gave her comfort. Rebekah Jordan’s “I Will Be Loyal to You”:
When you have hard times, and all others
Are gone, I will be there when the troubles come, through sunshine or rain when no help can be found, things may seem hopeless but just look around
I will be there to the end with you, I’ll do my best to be faithful and true, through the hardest of days we will choose the right ways,
My commitment I prove
I will be loyal to you
Laura said, “Yes we had bad days, yes we had bad luck, we have had the hardest year of our life, but we have made it through…”
Their love and resilience in the face of Stephen’s accident reminds us of the power of love and — as cliché as it may seem — how fleeting life can be.
Everything can change in a moment. Today, Stephen is back at work. He’s not 100%, but he’s slowly rebuilding his strength. Their relationship is stronger than ever, though there are still challenges ahead. And Stephen never leaves home without kissing his son and his wife goodbye because they know now how quickly things can change and how important it is to show each other as much love as possible — every single day.
We’ve all had moments when it felt like life knocked us down and stood on us. But somehow, we get through those times.
Share your moments of triumph with Paramount using the #mygreatestvictory hashtag. You never know who your story will inspire.