The Most Surprising Year

Today marks one year of living in Myrtle Beach.
Truly the most surprising year of my life.

Surprising may sound like a strange adjective to use, but the events of this year were unexpected, unusual, and (yep, I’m gonna say it) unprecedented. Cary (my husband) and I moved to South Carolina for my job. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine we would end up in Myrtle Beach, let alone the Atlantic coast, but here we are. When God calls you into faith, the loving response is obedience. So we were obedient to the call.

I accepted a position with an Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant Residency 2 months prior to our wedding. It was a two year commitment, but I wanted to start my medical career with a firm foundation in all aspects of medicine. I love women’s health, dermatology, and nutrition, but I knew that Emergency Medicine would challenge me more in general medicine than a particular specialty would. But once I accepted my position, now we had to find a job for Cary in Myrtle Beach. And of course, by God’s provision, he was able to find a position in hospitality. The best part about this story is he found his current job by chauffeuring someone who worked for the resort he currently works for. He was just shooting the breeze with one of the guests and mentioned that he was relocating to Myrtle Beach later in the year. Ask and you shall receive! That simple statement of fact opened the door for him. He interviewed for a Night Manager position shortly after and he got it! Dang, isn’t God good!

So after being married for 2.5 months, we packed our bags for South Carolina! Talk about a tumultuous time to up and leave. Knoxville was comfortable and familiar. It was the city where I was born and where I went to PA school. It was where Cary grew in his independence, took his first job post-undergrad, and where he met me. Knoxville also was home to my sister, brother-in-law, and niece, so saying goodbye felt like I was also leaving behind a piece of my heart. I remember crying in the car for at least the first two hours, if not longer, because the pain of leaving was just that devastating. But looking back, I know that this move was exactly what we needed and what our marriage needed to thrive.

Adjusting to Newlywed Life

Change is uncomfy. But when you are facing that change with your spouse whilst at the same time learning how to be a spouse, that can prove incredibly taxing. As newlyweds, you’re constantly learning new things about each other, like how they brush their teeth, steal the sheets, and have an anxious habit of biting their fingernails. So early on in our time in Myrtle Beach, we were still in that learning phase. Thankfully the credentialing process with my hospital was delayed multiple times so while Cary started working literally the day after we arrived, I was able to create a livable space for us. I learned where the grocery store, post office, closest Target, and pharmacy were. I unpacked ALL the boxes and organized everything, granted I like doing that sort of thing. I had the time to explore and settle in, which I now know was a huge blessing in disguise.

But 3 weeks after moving to South Carolina, I got into my first car accident. I was rear-ended by another car at a stoplight in a hit and run. I remember immediately calling Cary at work, a place I’d just left because I’d surprised him with a Chick-Fil-A lunch date. I told him I was safe but startled. I had never had to give a police report before, heck, I’d never been in an accident before! But I remember leaving the accident, so disheartened and angry. Thankfully everyone involved was safe and unscathed just a little worse for wear. That night, Cary brought me home the most beautiful bouquet of flowers to show how proud he was of me. It may have been less than ideal circumstances, but it was a learning experience and I was growing in and through it.

Expect the Worst, Prepare for the Best

Fast forward to November (3 months later), and I finally got my badge and hospital privileges. Yes, it takes THAT long to get credentialed. So if you’re in medicine, always be aware that your timeline is garbage. It ALWAYS takes longer than anticipated to get hospital privileges, so take that into consideration when moving. Thankfully, my supervisor allowed me to shadow for a couple months while I was waiting on credentialing to help get me familiar with the ER flow. It wasn’t the perfect solution, but it was something. And it allowed me to get my feet wet before I was working solo. I finally started working in the hospital on my own after Thanksgiving.

Life as a New PA

The first couple months were challenging, not to mention I also got sick right after Thanksgiving with God knows what virus, but I’m convinced it was COVID-19. I had fever, body aches, headache, shortness of breath, dry cough, aka all the symptoms, and I tested negative for flu…TWICE. But with each shift, I became more and more comfortable with my style of practice. I also was doing a mixture of resident shifts and PA shifts, so I got to see and treat a wide breadth of patients. Then Cary and I got to spend our first Christmas together just us. We were both working but thankfully we still had time to eat brunch and open presents.

2020 Begins

A couple months pass, and we eventually start getting plugged in at a local church. We start going to a small group that we love. We even started inviting people over for dinner! And that’s when Cary got the call that his Papa had passed away. We were having after-dinner drinks with a married couple from church when his mom called with the news. They prayed over Cary right then and there in the middle of our living room, and it was a moment I’ll never forget. Cary’s last living grandparent passed away right before COVID was ramping up in March. Nothing had shut down at that point, but there were inklings that it was coming. So we hightailed it down to Augusta, GA to be there for the viewing and funeral service. It was a hard and emotional weekend, but thankfully we were both able to be there to pay our respects.

Then quarantine happened. For however many interminable months. Is it still going on? Hard to tell, but needless to say, the past couple months since March have been a literal time warp. We celebrated Easter, my 27th birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, my sister’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, and my mom’s birthday all via Zoom or FaceTime. Social distance sucks. But all that distance, allows for a tremendous amount of growth.

I’ve been doing a lot of “leaving and cleaving.” And for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a Christian concept for marriage seen in Genesis 2:24 (“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh”). It’s the idea that a husband and wife cannot thrive until they become one flesh. It doesn’t mean that you sever all relationships with your family, but it does mean that your no. 1 person is now your spouse. You learn to emotionally, relationally, financially, spiritually, and physically rely on each other. And it’s a process that quarantine expedited for us. Am I mad about it? No, it needed to happen, and for whatever reason, the Lord wanted it to happen in this season by these means.

But COVID and quarantine have also distanced us from our ability to explore our own hometown. We moved to Myrtle Beach with the preconceived notion that we’d be going to the beach regularly, eating tons of seafood, and exploring all the tourist attractions. But given how crowded the beaches have been, I don’t even feel safe going to our beaches. And going to restaurants now requires a bit of pre-planning to find out what their capacity rules are and if they have outdoor seating options. What we once thought was going to be a fun adventure has turned into a more cautious one.

PSA: Marriage is no walk in the park

People say that marriage is hard, but you honestly can’t know until you’re well, married. It’s one thing to go through life single, because you only ever have to think about your own needs, desires, and dreams. But marriage requires you to think outside yourself. Your actions now affect another person. And because we both got married later in our twenties, we’d both gotten used to singleness and only having to think of #1. However, marriage encourages deepened humility, forgiveness, truth-telling, and selflessness. Thankfully the Lord equips those he calls. We may not always have it in ourselves, but the Lord does. When we invite God into our marriage relationship, fruit will follow.

Yes, we bicker. Yes, we disagree, Yes, our tempers rise every once-in-a-while. I mean we’re only human! But our marriage is a commitment we’re both devoted to bettering and cultivating.

If I could, would I change anything about this year?

Honestly, I wouldn’t. Does anyone ever really want to go through trials or tribulations? I’d wager to say no. Most of us are just hoping for a bit of clarity and ease. But the valleys help us find an unapologetic commitment to purpose. We’re learning to seek after the important things and to eliminate the distractions. Perfection isn’t the goal, progress is! And I can’t begin to fathom what it would’ve been like to do this past year alone. Forever thankful God gave me Cary and that I get to spend the rest of my life with him. Here’s to many more adventures, trials, and triumphs! And hopefully, no more surprises.

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