Taking life one day at a time

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

This is a personal look into my heart and soul. It is about a man I love and with whom I have shared 23 years of my life.

He is a constant encouragement to me to use the gifts God has given me and he provides the support I need to do it.

James Chapman is one of the best people I know and a great father to our two sons.

He has a strong work ethic. During the recent snowstorm without being asked, he spent the night at his Alabama Power Co. office just in case he was needed.

In his last night of consciousness, he was sneaking behind my back working, sending office emails.

Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman is embraced by her husband, James, as she takes her oath of office in January 2011. (Contributed)

As of the writing of this article, James has been in ICU for four weeks on a ventilator. One-third of the people diagnosed with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) die, but I have talked with God and am determined that James is going to be in the two-thirds who do not.

The details of ARDS are not important. The lessons I have learned from it are: Don’t take things for granted, know where keys to lock boxes are, educate yourself on your bank accounts, insurance benefits, living wills and passwords.

James took such good care of our family. He’s always told me if I would take care of our state, he would take care of our home. He did.

His sense of humor and his voice bring me joy, comfort, security and peace. There has not been one single day in 25 years with the exception of the last month that I have not heard that voice.

I am not a “mushy” person, but he is the best part of my life. We complete each other’s sentences, read each other’s minds — we double our joy and divide our grief.

I long for the day God will restore his health. In the meantime, I encourage you to hug your spouse longer, tell them you love them more and discuss the sad “what ifs,” even if you think they will never come, because sadly, they will.

Live one day at a time and enjoy each of them because you never know how many you may or may not have left.

I am not the first person to go through this and will not be the last, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Please remember us in your prayers.

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at bethchapman@bellsouth.net.