In sickness and in health, love conquers all
In 1997, as a senior at Grimsley High School Meredith Gorham laid eyes on her future husband, Chris Gorham at Jake’s Billiards (when it was located on Friendly Avenue) while he was taking a break from Greensboro College due to a soccer-related injury. She said it was love at first sight. The couple then tied the knot in 2003.
University of Greensboro alumna and soccer player said now she is a stay-at-home mom by morning and a high school soccer coach for girls and boys at Cornerstone Charter Academy by evening. Her husband and a former soccer player for Greensboro College Chris Gorham wrote in an email that his first job is taking care of Meredith and their family, and his second job- or as he calls it service or work-with-purpose, is the President and CEO at Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina. Meredith said Chris has been working for Goodwill Industries since he was 14 years old.
After the birth of their three kids–Austin, William and Nolan– the Gorhams lived a typical life as a family. That is, until one Friday night on July 17, 2009, when Meredith suffered a massive stroke.
“I was just sitting on the couch, watching T.V. with my husband, all the kids were asleep at 9:30,” Meredith recalled. “All of the sudden I started feeling funny, so I stood up, but I fell down. And then I stood up again, and I just fell right back down.”
Chris picked Meredith up, put on the couch, called 911 and then called her parents who lived a mile away. Meredith said while she was on the couch she could hear everything, but she could not speak or see. She said firefighters showed up first and she remembers that their walkie-talkies “were so, so loud.”
“In my head, I am thinking, do not wake up my kids, they just fell asleep,” Meredith said.
Meredith said after hearing her father call her by her nickname, Boo, she blacked out and did not wake up for four days. When she did wake up, she was in the hospital, and Chris was by her side.
Chris wrote in an email that after Meredith’s stroke, he was in shock and it felt like he was trapped in a bad dream.
“When her father and I were told by the neurosurgeon, that she only had a 30 percent chance of making it through the emergency surgery, we both knew it wasn’t good,” he wrote. “On top of that, if she did make it, she probably wouldn’t be able to walk or talk again, ever! It was your worst nightmare coming true, right in front of you and there was nothing you could do. I felt absolutely helpless.”
The stroke was on Meredith’s left side of her brain, so it affected the right side of her body. She said her right foot and hand have involuntary movements and when she regained consciousness, she could only say four or five words. She pushed forward though
and attended speech therapy three days a week for an hour of more each day to relearn how to talk. After two years, Meredith said she felt “normal again.” During that time, Chris never left her side.
“He was the caretaker of me and the kids,” Meredith said. “And I had a babysitter, Kendra Bowling, and she was great. When Chris went to work, and she did everything. For the first two months, I was asleep a lot, you know 17 to 20 hours a day.”
Almost 10 years after her stroke, Meredith is playing and coaching soccer and said her marriage with Chris is doing great. Chris wrote in an email that without faith, love, and help from family and friends they would have never made it this far.
“We still go to marriage counseling today – one of the best decisions we made together,” Chris wrote.
“We had a rocky road, at the two-three year mark, but we got through it,” Meredith said. “I am a positive person, so when the stroke happened I was like ‘OK, I can be depressed, sulk and be in bed or I can say, it is what it is and move forward.’ I chose to move forward. Never give up is my motto.”
Chris wrote that the thing he loves most about Meredith is her soul.
“She is the light that our family so desperately needs and loves,” he wrote. “God surely put her on this Earth for a reason, and I know I am the luckiest man on Earth to have/hold her heart.”
Meredith said Chris is her soulmate and she loves his smile and his laugh the most.
“He is the one for me,” she said. “I am very, very proud of him for sticking with me during those hard times.”
Chris wrote in an email that he and Meredith may not know the secret to their long-lasting love yet.
“But, I can tell you that having faith, being raised by awesome parents, and working hard on our relationship has a lot to do with it,” he wrote. “It’s easy to walk away or give up…that vocabulary doesn’t exist in any of our families.”
For couples who may be going through what Chris and Meredith have gone through, Chris has some advice: reach out for help, communicate and to let go of the past.
“This takes time and hard work,” Chris wrote. “It takes courage, especially for us stubborn men! And try to remember the three rules: Always try to do what’s right and avoid what’s wrong; The Golden Rule – treat others the way you want them to treat you, and never give up!”
Meredith said she and Chris would be celebrating Valentine’s Day with their kids this year.
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.