Sunday, December 31, 2006

New year, new light

Dear Jan,

We have lived a year full of danger and challenge together and we choose to believe that we are better now than last year. We know more about the paradoxical nature of life: we have been soaked in pain, near death, doubt, speechlessness, and dark valleys, yet, it has been there that we have experienced first hand, selfless love, iridescent light, endless grace, strong support, tender comfort, unshakable faith, and most paradoxically, the presence of God in a way we haven't experienced before.

You have seen death face to face. You were technically death for ten days had it not been for a respirator machine that kept you going, yet, in the very edge of life, we were confronted with our most basic beliefs, with our most fundamental hopes; our most basic relationships were tested. And now we know that the beauty of life resides in the vast array of relationships we have, most importantly, in the type of relationship we have with God and with ourselves. We know that pain, loss, sadness, anger and even death are very much an integral part of life. That without them we would not understand joy or peace, or love, or the essential lightness of being alive.

At times, we have been weak, without any strength left to continue or any hope to look up and see the light, and yet, it was in the recognition of our weakness that we found strength in God. When we couldn't hope or take the next step, others did the believing and the walking. When we did not have the strength to reach out, the Master reached out himself and touched us in a thousand ways. We learned that this strength is born inside of us when we have internalized our faith in him and let it bond with each cell of our selves, letting the Creator live in us and through us. We learned that the strength to live life fully comes from both, the inside and the outside, that the myth of superman or superwoman are just that: a myth. We found out an endless source of strength and hope in our community. We learned that we are only as strong as our links with them and our link with God.

You lost your capacity to speak, to sing, to write, to read. You lost your most fundamental tools to be a teacher. It took you six months to be able to read at second grade level, four months to be able to walk like a toddler, eight months to be able to ride in the subway by yourself. Nevertheless, it was in this time without words when family and commmunity wrote and spoke with words of granite the language of love. Now, almost eleven months after your aneurysm, you are gaining up on the aphasia, your vocabulary is larger, your energy is higher, your memory is improving, dozens, maybe hundreds of people have reached out and touched our lives in such a way that the temporary losses you have pale compared to the lessons of practical love you have received.

We could see the ending year as a half empty glass and cry over the lost opportunities, lost income, lost time, lost conversations; but we choose to see it as a glass that is being filled, we choose to be glad for the lessons learned, the love poured, the light shared, the help received. This is how we want to name life, to speak out its goodness, to be happy with the circumstances that instead of becoming prisons, can serve us as a step to see higher and farther.

We know that the Master was every step of the way with us through this year, and that we can count with his presence during the next year as well, we know this from experience. We choose to finish the year knowing rather than doubting, hoping rather than despairing, thanking rather than badmouthing. We choose to look forward to getting more light, more love, more joy so we can share all of them more with a world that is getting too dark.


A note from Jan:

During 2006, I confirmed that the most important thing for me is to be in relationship with God, to walk with him hand in hand. God comes to us and gives himself to us. We give our lives helping others but still the most important thing in my life is God himself. He has helped me get through all the challenges I had to face. For this I am thankful. I love you all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas note

Christmas is the time we celebrate the light. Life has become dark because of our collective selfishness. The Creator saw the darkness up close and decided to help us bring the light back again. One day, he decided to come in the form of a little boy and live with us, eat with us, feel cold and hungry and sad like us. Because of the birth of this little boy named Jesus, the light can be lit again in everyone's hearts. We have decided to lit the light and let it shine. It is this light that guided Jan from death's dark edge in a comma back to life. It is this light that keeps Jan's hopes high. In this light I find strength to believe in Jan's healing day by day.

It doesn't matter if you believe in this light the same way we do. Light is light. This Christmas we invite you to join us in the celebration of all that his light represents, believe with us that goodness, peace, joy and love can shine in everyone's hearts if we would give it a chance, believe that we can love one another. Then we would have a world full of light and love.

Thank you for all you do for us and all you are to us.

Many blessings this Christmas

Fede and Jan
Christmas 2006


Dear Jan:

Last week was a mix of welcomed changes and some of the old stuff. You began the alternative treatment and almost at the same time you began experiencing some pain. We were told this is supposed to be part of the healing process, those connecting neuropaths in your body are reacting as they come together.

Yesterday morning, you picked up the phone and went on to have a perfect conversation with no hesitation or words missing. It was no more than 4 or 5 minutes, but at the end of the call you came to where I was shaving, looked at me wide-eyed and said: "what did just happen?", you knew that something was different, that you had talked just as you did a year ago.

When you tried to explain you feelings about this, you began hesitating again and the aphasia showed its face again. For a few minutes you had a wonderful awakening of your speech function, and it felt so good that you could not stop laughing for a while.

Later that day we told the doctor what had happened and he shared in the enthusiasm. He said, he was expecting these awakenings to start happening but not this soon. So he was pleased.

But as the light has to share the day with the darkness, your day ended in a bit of pain and extreme fatigue. It is as if your energy bucket would just last you for a few hours and then, suddenly your body just shuts down. Before the aneurysm, you lived fast; what you have to face today is a universe apart, but you have been patient and continue walking by faith. For you it is not a matter of if, but of when you will be able to go through a day just like before: full of energy and joy.

Just like the eagle you are, one day you will soar again. Today, your brief awakening calls for a celebration.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Jan on Friday - looking good!

Hi all. It's brother Steve here. Jan and Fede were over for a very pleasant visit on Friday. Here's how Jan looked. Fantastic, right?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wish list

Dear Jan:

By now most of your students have already prepared their wish list for Christmas. They have edited it many times and included their most special hopes and toys. For more than 20 years you have been a teacher and love this season. Anyone who has visited your home during this season surely remembers the hundreds of decorations platered on the walls, windows, doors, ceilings and any ohter place where you could hang something to express your desire to celebrate.

Everyone has a wish list even if it is secret. This year, what is in your wish list? When I asked you the question, your answer was simply: I don't have a wish list for this year. But I know some of your wishes even if there is no list:

-to get your speech back (be healed from aphasia)
-to get your strength back (be healed from chronic fatigue)
-to get your right side fully reconnected (be healed from right neglect)
-and when you are well, to get clarity about your next mission impossible


Friday, December 08, 2006


Dear Jan:

This season invites everyone to meditate in what this year has brought to our lives, all of it, the good, the bad and the neutral; to count your blessings and be thankful. Some songs say it is a season to be jolly; for some the season if full of sad or painful memories, in particular those who have lost someone dear; for others, this is just another season of shopping to calm their own guilt, or buy influence or affection.

What did this year brought for you?

  • You had a massive brain haemorrhage in early February
  • As a result, for months you lost functioning of the right half of your body, your ability to speak, to read and to write; you spent four months in hospital; you continue to be an out-patient in a rehab hospital
  • You suffer from right neglect, fatigue syndrome, you are under a medication with nasty side effects, your short term memory comes and goes, you have aphasia \
  • You lost six months of teaching, you experience generalized pain and most of the time are freezing even when the thermostat is set to 25 Cº,

How can you be jolly or thankful under these circumstances? It would seem that of all people, you are fully justified to complain against life. Nonetheless, in the mate paint of everyday life, I see your thankful heart clearly. Like a femenine version of Job you quietly say: God gives and God takes away, blessed be His name.

Where do you draw the strength to keep things in perspective and know the big picture? It comes from this deep sense of identity that you draw from your faith. You know who you are. You know that you are not what your mind tells you, but what God tells you. And for that you can be thankful. Thankfulness and joy are connected somehow, and you not only know the connection but fully live it! It is a strong statement of the values from which you live, two of which are: that you are not your circumstances, and that God knows what this is all about.

I asked you a few weeks ago what did you see in your life during the past few months? your response revealed crystal clear what you believe. You said:

“I see God allowing this for me to learn more trust in Him, more freedom from the obvious, more reliance on my partner, that my happiness in not based on my circumstances, that all this works for the best in a mysterious way”

I totally agree. I don’t experience suffering in my body, however, walking along your path has been on occasion very painful, and yet, somehow in the darkest moments, when I feel that I am at the end of my rope, there is light! , there is that ray of hope that brings us always into the open and remind us that we are more than this pain, that we are better for the suffering experienced, that maybe we are a bit more human for it, more understanding of those who suffer. So, we cough out the pain and rejoice.

Yeah! Let’s rejoice and laugh even when tears are rolling down our eyes. Our life is good with everything and everyone in it! Thanks be to God.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More love


Thanks again for the endless love from the Runnymede church community. Last Sunday we got another cheque for $2500 for Jan's rehab and Orest just delivered tonight another $300 from two loving individuals more. We are left speechless, so we tell all of you with our hearts a million thanks! May the Lord bless us in the future so we can also bless others the way you have blessed us.


Jan is getting ready to start the next phase of her rehab. She will be going to the new therapies twice a week starting this week. She is really exicted about this.

She is also feeling a lot better after the doctor agreed to reduce her medication to 50% after warning her of the risks. But Jan is no stranger to taking risks and she would not shy away of risks if the result is an improved quality of life. Please pray that the new dosage is sufficient to keep her from having more seizures and that eventually she may be free from this medication.

Fede and Jan

All things occur perfectly

I found this note in Phil and Lori's website very inspiring and I wanted to share it with all of our friends. Phil and Lori are very special people in Jan's life. See also the note on Jan in their newsletter. Follow the link below.

All Things Occur Perfectly

Like all people, Lori and I have many faith-based positions – mindsets for which there is no proof as to their validity, at least not at the time I adopted them.

None is more strongly held by Lori and me than the mindset that all things occur perfectly. Both of us say it often to ourselves and in courses. Recently a graduate wrote and asked what it means to us.

At the foundation of this belief are a number of other faith-based positions.

• I have choice. I have choice about how I spend myself and how I think and feel about my life.
• I am the source of my results. They are the product of my net intention – the combination of my conscious and unconscious intention.
• I am served by every one of my results, whether I know it or not. That is to say, I have a lot of intention of which I am not consciously aware; intention that has to do with, for example, my physical and emotional safety and wellbeing.

If I do not practice these ideas, there is little chance I will experience the perfection of life, and no chance that I will experience the perfection of life as it occurs.Sometimes I pretend I don't have choice. Usually it is when I am unwilling to pay the prices that I make up are attached to my options. When this happens, I don't think about how perfectly life is unfolding, I just slog along thinking others are in control of my life. Ugh!

Sometimes I produce results that I don’t like. I pretend that I am not the source of them, primarily because I am not aware of my net intention that produced them and I do not understand how they serve me. When this happens, I don't think about how perfectly life unfolds, I just slog along blaming and find fault with others about my life. Ugh, again!

Later, sometimes much later, I end up thinking; “I now understand how that was perfect, given where I am in life now.” I experience the idea that all roads lead to where I stand.

The trick is to connect with the perfection of what I am attracting in the moment of the attraction.

This is a faith-based position. It is a matter of choice. The more I choose it and operate from this position, the truer it becomes.

Most people do not adopt it at all. They spend a lot of time in resistance to their results (the truth about the way things are in their lives), feeling victimized, angry and self-critical. About their results and their lives, they think, "This sucks."

Of course, it is my resistance, victimization, anger and self-criticism that feed and perpetuate the results that I do not like. These are the thoughts and emotions that mask the perfection of all things as they occur.

So there is no misunderstanding, Lori and I do not believe that operating from this position justifies consciously acting in ways that violate our values, giving less than our best, treating people unkindly or abdicating ownership for doing what we believe adds the most value.

We encourage you to live up to your greatness, with more commitment, courage, character and faith than you ever imagined, while remaining compassionate with yourself and others.

We believe that, although you may not fully appreciate what a gift you and your current situation are NOW, someday you will be clearer. Be excited about NOW and the opportunity to create a world with even more possibility for you and your people will become apparent to you.

by Phil and Lori
Extraordinary Learning 21st leadership now

Monday, November 27, 2006


A very special word of appreciation for the generosity of a group of anonymous donors from our community at Runnymede UC that collected $1050 for Jan's rehab. You are a concrete expression of the Kingdom and make life very beautiful with your love. You make our Father proud and make us feel embraced by a thousand arms.

We will always treasure the imprints you have left in our hearts and in our lives.

Fede and Jan

Feeling and healing

Dear Jan:

Last night you couldn't make it to the Sunday Night gathering. Your heart wanted to attend but your body just refused to cooperate. Being forced to sleep just highlighted the frustrating slow pace of healing and its side effects. How can you find some satisfaction in your everyday life when the choice is forced on you to stay and sleep instead of doing something fulfilling with your community? It seems that you have to subordinate even the simplest desires of your heart to the healing imperative, and everyone who knows how independent you are, also knows that this proposition won't work for you. You face a real quandary.

In this sticky situation, you are being pulled in many more directions. On the one hand, your healing implies staying with medication just to avoid more seizures which could cause more damage, the drawback is the drowsiness it causes, "my eyes want to stay closed all the time, my body does not want to stay awake, I sound and look dumb when I am not..." you say again and again. The process of healing looks as if it is a slow awakening to what life might be.

On the other hand, your emotions are very much on the surface of almost every interaction you haven: you cry when you can’t get your thoughts out, when movements are too fast, when you can’t remember where you left something, when the voices sound too loud, when the world just don’t seems to be the same, and there is little to laugh about, you sob, “this isn't life, it would be better just to go to sleep for good..." Some days disappointment and discouragement are so big that they look like the only option in the horizon is to push the stop button.

On the other hand, there is the resilient Jan we know that keeps walking tall and maintains faith high, this is the Jan that wants to think in the long term to keep things in perspective, this is the one that asks: “what is the lesson I need to learn from this? What is what I need to see in the middle of these circumstances? How can I internalize that God’s time is not my time? How can I live the fact that I am not my circumstances?” The inconveniences of the healing process are insignificant compared to the new lease on life you have been given and the new vision you have about pain, illness, suffering and life.

On the other hand, we know that we have each other and that one day we will look back and say: “Where did we get the strength to walk this far? Where did all these footprints on the way come from? How many people were walking alongside all the way?"


Saturday, November 25, 2006

2 lessons from pain

Dear Jan:

You are very familiar with pain. You wake up with pain, you take your breakfast and the medication reminds you of pain, you go through the motions of the day and the constant presence of a dull pain forces you to cry, to slow down, to struggle with the movements of life. I am surprised of how valiantly you set aside this pain and sometimes enjoy life.

Many people have discussed the nature or the reason of pain. Take for example the book of Job from the Bible where the reason for pain is a bet between God and the devil; or take any article from an American newspaper where you can see that the main reason for their fear is the pain they remember from 9/11.

Pain, fear, dissapointment, sadness. If we go beyond trying to assign guilt, we are left with a question about what is the purpose of this pain in your life? How are we supposed to understand the tremendous disruption of our lives as a result of the aneurysm? And, I don't mean only the physical pain, because there is a sustantial emotional and spiritual pain that has been part of our lives.

I read a dozen books on pain in life. But this does not alleviate the experience of pain, it just provides a framework to answer the big questions. The irony is that it is the small questions, the constant dull pain, is what breaks the soul and the resilience.

A poet said that love and pain are the two wings of life. Lesson one is that you can't have one without the other.

Lesson two, is that however despicable and horrendous is the experience of pain, it can produce a beautiful character or a bitter attitude.

How paradoxical!


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Dear Jan:

Here is another picture from the dance:

We went to Lindsay on Friday to make some minor improvements to the kitchen. It was a long day for you. at the end your body was just refusing to even walk from the car to the apartment. It is so easy to forget that your energy sets imposes sharp limits to your working time. The house is not selling, so we will have to re-list it with a new price. I wonder what the lesson is about the house. You said,"wouldn't it be nice if we lived here and you commuted to work?" but we both know that the cost is too high.

Yesterday we decided to finish a project started before the aneurysm: to complete the upholstering of two old arm chairs. You were having fun choosing fabrics and directing the work. We'll see the results...


Thursday, November 16, 2006

A note from Angela

Hello Everyone

This is Angela (Jan’s cousin).
Wasn’t that a party!!!

On Sunday my husband Barry and I had lunch with Jan & Fede. We went down to deliver the proceeds from last weekend. Jan was thrilled with the results and so were we. Together with the help of so many people we raised $4558.23 so far. I say so far because there is still money coming in.

If you didn’t get a chance to donate and would still like to, please mail cheques payable to:
Janice M. Walton de Carrillo
c/o 80 North Heigts Road,
Toronto, ON M9B 2T8

This would not have been possible without so much help from friends and family. Jan has some great friends and I feel privileged to have worked with them on this dance. Orest you have the biggest heart in the world. I could not possibly name all the people who gave so freely of themselves. Jan, you are truly blessed to have so many people who love you. Kate I will never forget you!

I must say that I am proud to be a “Walton”. We don’t see each other near as often as we should but when this family was called upon we were all there supporting each other. Thank you so much to my fellow Walton’s. A special thank you to my sister Tina and her family, couldn’t have done it without you. A special thanks also goes out to my precious mother, Lil, you worked tirelessly as usual and gave so much of yourself.

To every person who donated items, donated time, and donated money, thank you so much for your generosity. Money is necessary in this world, that is a reality, but the most important thing in life is Love. More than anything I wanted Jan to feel loved. I believe that she was overwhelmed with Love. You are all responsible for that, Thank you!


9 months after an aneurysm

Dear Jan:

This week is nine months since an aneurysm ruptured in your brain, destroying with a massive bleeding the language centre, and later reaching the back cavity affecting the short term memory. After two operations in two days the medical team gave us a bleak description of where you were. They said that you probably had lost your first language, that probably you would be hemiplegic, for the rest of your life. They didn't know the type of person you are...

It's been seven months since you were transfered from the hospital where you were operated to a rehabilitation hospital where they began the long process of reconstructing language, intentional thinking and movement in your right side. It's been five months since you were sent home to continue SLT, OT and PT as an out-patient in the same hospital.

Earlier today we run into a former co-worker at a store. She was very surprised to see you so slim and to hear your story. She mentioned that one of her cousins, 31 years old, died of an aneurysm last year, in her eyes, you are a walking miracle because you are doing so well in such a short time:
-you have recovered more than 70% of movement in your right side, you can eat, write and hold things with your right hand and your right leg functions at 80% of its capacity.
-your language skills are far better than what they were four months ago, your capacity to recall words is doubling every month and your pronunciation and grammar are improving substantially. In a good day your language is at 75%.

Your rehab program will come to a close in the next couple of weeks. Now, you will have to continue on your own. So far you have demonstrated a lot of resilience and determination to get where you are. You have been already in conversations with health professionals that will guide you in your search for applications of glucoscience to your recovery. They told us a while back that these treatment is costly and not covered by the provincial health insurance paid for by our tax dollars. That is why the fundraiser was so important for you. The aprox. $4,600 collected will go towards that treatment. It is moving to see so many people giving freely and lovingly to help you in your recovery.

On the down side, you have had a lot of trouble with the side effects of medication to control the seizures that were caused by the operation when your bone plates where replaced in June. Dizziness, depression, irritability and who knows what else these drugs cause in your body are tough challenges to face. Add to that the expected fatigue that is part of the healing process and you have a lot of aggravation and frustration for feeling drugged up all day. You will have to flex the muscle of your faith so that the seizures stop all together and the fatigue grows smaller until it dissapears sooner.

You have come a long way! Many people have been with you shoulder to shoulder all the way. Keep up the good fight to get back all of the functions affected.

For what is worth, we send you our love,


Monday, November 13, 2006


Dear Jan:

You are really struggling with the medication this week. Fatigue, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, but perhaps the most difficult is the effect on your emotions. The whole week was a roller coaster of times of relative tranquility and many bouts of depression. On Sunday, Angela got a glimpse of this change when you told her that it was not worth going living like this, with these effects. I wish there was a way of getting rid of those effects because there are not many other options that you and the doctor have not explored.

On a positive note, I am absolutely impressed with Angela’s loyalty. Single-handedly she organized with Tina the whole event 110 Kms. away! And brought to you the results of the event! Bless her heart! They are the best cousins on this hemisphere!!! (hmmmmm…) I wonder if this could be developed into a lease a cousin operation for those who don’t have a cousin like Angela or Tina. Louise and Sue were also really involved and then all the spouses, children, friends and even neighbors. You have expressed your gratitude to them already, but I take any opportunity to acknowledge their practical love for you. If they read these lines: Many thanks, adoptive cousins and sisters in law. You made the world a better place with your act of generosity. I hope you continue practicing random acts of generosity because that is the only way we have to save the planet.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

One step back

After a month of bliss without any medication, Jan had a seizure this morning and we ended up in the ER the whole day. That place is not our favourite one! She was kept under observation and given medication which made her very dizzy. She slept most of the day amidst the noise and chaos of nurses, paramedics and doctors running around patching up broken people. She went to bed as soon as we got home. This may mean the Doctor will put her back on medication. You win some battles, you lose some. The Master knows why this is happening. We are thankful for what she has now and look forward with hope and conviction.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Shall we dance?

It's about family and old friends (and young ones too)! The music and the dancing still resonates in our hearts. Here is one of the wonderful dancer who astonished everyone with her energy.

You can find 110 more pics from the event (courtesy of Julia and David) at:


Of Roots and Riches

Dear Jan:

I’ve been learning about the depth of parables (short stories). Here is one for you.

A certain man came to the North leaving behind friends and family; mother and father, everything he could call roots stayed behind. He left nice weather, a beautiful country, and generous people and in the process he lost a wife. He wanted to start a new life; he was looking for those things everyone says bring roots, security and happiness into your life. He yearned for friends and a large family that would live around.

This man waited and waited for a long while and almost had given up. Life would have to go on without roots or warm hugs.

The time went by and this man met a woman from the North, a woman who grew up in the middle of snow storms; a woman who was used to the harsh cold and to the warm summer breeze in the afternoon. She also had certain nostalgia for something missing in her life but she didn’t know.

She had a father and mother, a brother and a sister and many a friend around. This filled one side of her heart, but the other side was still yearning for a certain pazzas in her life. She wanted to have someone whom she could love in a special way and be loved in return. It was not that she didn’t have plenty of love, but she needed something extra…le crème de la crème, instead of the old chicken soup for her soul. She wanted to feel her knees rattling and butterflies in her stomach again and again.

They met one spring just before the blooming of the flowers in May. She was wearing long beautiful curls and walked with a gait that made her look five times as tall. She wanted to be healed in her eye but first, she needed to be healed in her heart. He wanted to come home to have conversation and a warm hug full of love.

Summer swelled their friendship a both fell critically ill of love -–it was grown up love, solemn and mad at the same time-- and in less than a blink they went got two rings and found each other dancing at their own wedding, formalizing the link. She sang like an angel, he wrote like a madman, both were ecstatic with the dream of having a shot at a shared life full of love.

But dreams get interrupted sometimes. She became gravely ill and for weeks she walked that thin line between life and death. But it was not her time yet to go with her God. An explosion of blood in her head took away her most precious gifts: her words and her voice. She spent months finding ways to get her words back. He spent months at her bedside learning to trust that the good Lord would bring her back to his side, words and everything.

Much has been said about the mountains of love she received during this time. He found himself surrounded by love from her people and people he didn’t know.

One day, he opened his eyes and was overwhelmed when he saw the deep roots that somehow had grown during these months. He had felt a thousand embraces of love; they have showered the man and his wife with oceans of prayers, hours of visits and good thoughts.

He found himself at the core of the life of a clan. She had taken a long journey to come back to her man. All this time she always knew that her clan walked every step of the way by her side. The roots were hers, as well as the loved ones, but she made them his.

She told him one morning right after muffins and tea: “a man without friends or loved ones is the poorest of the poor. My wealth is my family and friends. All of them are also yours. Now, you are truly a rich man”



MANY THANKS! to Angela, Barrie, Tina and the Walton Clan who organized a terrific party for Jan. Your effort is gold in Jan's heart. Our gratitude extends to all those who donated items, money, time, love, prayers, smiles and a good dance for this event. God bless you all!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The people that love you

Benefit Dance for Jan!

Another reminder for the benefit dance for Jan.
Call, call, call, call and get your tickets!
RSVP (see previous blog for more information)
Tickets will also be available at the door Your attendance will be very much appreciated by Jan. We are still in great need of items or services for our raffles, silent auction and games. These items could include gift certificates and new household items, anything sports, crafts, gift baskets etc. Go together with a friend or a group,

Date: November 4, 2006
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Place: Masonic Hall, 24 James Street East, Orillia, Ontario

If you can't make it to the benefit dance and you would still like to make a donation please make cheques payable to "Jan Walton" and mail to her cousin:
Angela Black, 301 French Street, Oshawa, Ontario L1G 5N4

Dear Janushka Mirianov Waltonski:

Yeah, this name is a term of endearment, an alternative to calling you honey, a way of honoring your spirit full of adventure.

We went to Lindsay to do some minor repairs to the house and ended staying overnight. Enjoyed the hospitality of your neighbours and had a wonderful visit with Anne. It is overwhelming to see how much they love you, I am sure at some point in time you loved them lots as well. May God multiply this love which must come from him in the first place.

I feel very moved by your reactions everytime we travel outside of Toronto. Is as if an eagle would have been set free from a cage: your face lights, your breath slows down, the wings of your soul open and all of you soar high, efortlessly gliding in that space between the palpitant brown earth and the blue sky. You are a woman of open spaces and expansive skies, of woods and rolling hills; your heart carries the the beat of the rain and sings the song of the flowers, of the wheat fields, of the corn, a song to the maker of all. On the way back we were given a spectacle with a breathtaking sunset. You know how much in "sync" you feel out there, but also you know that you have a call to work in the city for now.

When we got home we received a call from Sue, she shared the touching news of a pianinst who met you 12 years ago and has not seen you since, who heard about your ordeal and sent a generous donation for the dance! We all were very moved and took this as another statement about you, about how much people love you because you truly, earnestly, abundantly loved them .


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dance till you drop

Benefit Dance for Jan!

Another reminder for the benefit dance for Jan.

Call, call, call, call and get your tickets! RSVP

Fede & Jan
Tina Larsen, Orillia 705-326-5516
Louise Erhart louise.erhart054@
Angela Black 905-432-3426 or

Tickets: $15 each or $25 a couple. RSVP
Tickets will also be available at the door

Your attendance is is critical, not only to help raise money but to show Jan how much we really care! Jan is expecting to see all her friends and family joined together. Give back to Jan who has given so much of herself to others.

We are still in great need of items or services for our raffles, silent auction and games. These items could include gift certificates and new household items, anything sports, crafts, gift baskets etc. Go together with a friend or a group, be creative, be unusual!

Date: November 4, 2006
Time: 7:00 P.M. This is an early start for people who are from out of town.
Place: Masonic Hall,
24 James Street East,
Orillia, Ontario

If you can't make it to the benefit dance and you would still like to make a donation please make cheques payable to "Jan Walton" and mail to: Angela Black, 301 French Street, Oshawa, Ontario L1G 5N4

Going home

Oct 27
Dear Jan,

You are so full of expectation for the dance next week, hoping that you will see all of your friends there, that after a hard day yesterday, your smile just brightens my day. It is wonderful to see you on the phone leaving messages to your friends about the dance, explaining the purpose of the event, encouraging them not to miss the chance to come to enjoy an evening with you. The difference between your speech today compared to where you were five months ago is just unbelievable.

I hope many of your friends will come and have the opportunity to see the miracle you are.

I am thankful for days like this, when we get a break from pain.


Oct 26

Dear Jan,
Our hearts broke last night.

We know life is not meant to be easy or free of pain, anybody who says so is misguided or lying. But life is also not only hardships; no one could survive it if there was no respite. We all need of God's grace and comfort to give our hearts some hope to go on living the day-to-day life. We know that under hardship faith becomes handy. I know your faith is also evident in the good and bright days. But last night we just couldn't find the light... we couldn't reach some peace. Yesterday was a rough sea full of frustration, high waves that tossed us around like leaves. We know that all this is temporary, that the suffering has and end, that it builds character, that we just have to hang on and have enough faith to go through it. We know all this, but in the middle of it, nothing makes sense and we just wanted it to end... You went to bed crying of fatigue and frustration. I always fell clumsy and at a loss of words when you cry, but I tried to tell you some comforting words. Then you said that you wanted to go home, that you could not take it anymore. I told you that you were in your home and you replied, "I want to go to home with God" I froze. I was desperately looking for something intelligent to say but felt like I was the one with aphasia; I just couldn't find what to tell you. Finally, I said, "I am sorry to see you so sad, I can't imagine how tired of all this you must feel to want to go home"; you said, "thank you". I took a deep breath very relieved and we continued talking for a while. You felt heard and I felt included in your pain, we both felt embraced by each other, and we both cried. We knew that the pain was still there, the feeling to go home was still there, but somehow we also knew that whether God decided to take you home or leave you here for a while longer we had each other in the meantime.

Yes, your pain broke my heart and yours.

This morning we pieced our hearts together and with a little spark of hope, we thanked God for giving us another day...


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oct 15 to 25


October 21

Dear Jan,

Tonight was the Fall Dance at Runnymede. I don’t know how you feel, but I love being among the youngest in an event! Nevertheless, what I will remember from this night for a long time is to see you dancing and laughing. So amazing!

I had kept the time open but was not sure if you would feel like going. I was wrong again! You were the one that kept mentioning the dance since we got up this morning. You were more concerned about how to match your shoes with your dress than about Aphasia or any other condition. It was priceless.

Just before we changed to go to the dance, you said that you were a bit anxious. It was eight months and nine days ago the last time we were getting ready for another dance… same time of the week, same time of the day, different month, different day but the same couple, repeating the same motions that for a moment felt ominous. We didn’t know then what we know now. That evening, not even the emergency workers that came with the ambulance had any idea that you were having a brain hemorrhage or the staff at the emergency room that first got an ECG thinking that maybe you had cardiac arrest. But now we know the risks, the symptoms and the consequences.

We continued getting dressed for the occasion. For a while I was very quiet, as if avoiding any sound or extra words would keep you safer. It is so tempting to deny how fragile we are, “like the wild flowers in the fields”. It is easier to just build a fantasy and believe that that nothing can happen to us; that we are good citizens and pay our taxes; therefore we have the right to expect a safe and bountiful life. But we both know that is not the case, that in life we must expect everything including illness. So, after a while we changed our attitudes and began taking animatedly about the dance. We were going to live life with faith and without fear. We were going to have a good time.

We danced four or five songs, eat some junk food and drank soda drinks. We held each other and felt the music penetrating our skins, reaching our bones. Just being there at the dance was like having battled with our inner monsters and defeated them. Freedom from fear is exhilarating. After a couple of hours you decided you have had enough and we went home happy and filled with hopes for the future.


October 20

Dear Jan,

For several weeks we were waiting for this day. We met with the whole team at Bridgepoint for a family meeting. This happens when the end of the treatment is near. Indeed, they were planning to bring all the treatments to a closing by the end of October, however, because of the remarkable progress you have made in the past three to four months, they decided to extend out-patient services for another two to three weeks. They also included physiotherapy in the hospital’s swimming pool.

Every therapist presented their report. All agreed on the marked progress they see in you. Very refreshing and uplifting to hear all of the “experts” that you have gained so much, and the hope that you will continue .

I got two lessons from this meeting,

One, that these type of medicine and techniques (allopathic) to help in your rehabilitation were the best option after the operation. However, they are leaving the process when there is still a lot to restore and rebuild in you.

Two, that naturopathy seems like an ideal continuation of the healing when the “fixing: has stopped and what your brain requires more action that can’t be offered by institutional medicare.

You were so happy to hear about your progress. You also are looking forward to try another approach to rebuilding your brain by using glycoscience. We are walking into another stage with lots of hope and support from all.


Benefit Dance for Jan!

TICKETS: $15 each or $25 a couple
DATE: November 4, 2006
TIME : 7:00 P.M. This is an early start for people who are from out of town. Please try to be on time.
PLACE: Masonic Hall, 24 James Street East, Orillia, Ontario

Fede & Jan fede_carrillo -at-
Tina Larsen Orillia 705-326-5516
Louise Erhart louise.erhart054 -at-
Angela Black 905-432-3426 or garden.junkie -at-
(Note: replace -at- with @ for the actual email addresses.)

Tickets will also be available at the door, however if you do plan to purchase your ticket at the door, it would be very much appreciated if you could email or call to let us know you're coming.

Attendance to this function is critical, not only to help raise money but to show Jan how much we really care! Just imagine how Jan is going to feel when she sees all her friends and family joined together in so much love and support? This is the opportunity we've all be waiting for, let's give back to the Jan who has given so much of herself to others.We are still in great need of items or services for our raffles, silent auction and games. These items could include gift certificates and new household items, anything sports, crafts, gift baskets etc. Go together with a friend or a group, be creative, be unusual! If anyone can help out please email me at garden.junkie -at- (note the . and replace -at- with @)

Please bring cash ATM not availableBuffet: To be served at approximately 10:00 P.M.Cash BarIf you can't make it to the benefit dance and you would still like to make a donation please make cheques payable to "Jan Walton" and mail to:
Angela Black
301 French Street
Oshawa, Ontario
L1G 5N4

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Benefit Dance for Jan!

Hello Everyone.

It's me again, Angela, Jan's cousin. I just wanted to remind everyone about the benefit dance for Jan. Plans are well underway, tickets are now available at $15 each or $25 a couple through the following means:

Fede & Jan fede_carrillo -at-
Tina Larsen Orillia 705-326-5516
Louise Erhart louise.erhart054 -at-
Angela Black 905-432-3426 or garden.junkie -at-

(Note: replace -at- with @ for the actual email addresses.)

Tickets will also be available at the door, however if you do plan to purchase your ticket at the door, it would be very much appreciated if you could email or call me to let me know you're coming. This way I will be more able to judge for food and the bar.

Attendance to this function is critical, not only to help raise money but to show Jan how much we really care! Just imagine how Jan is going to feel when she sees all her friends and family joined together in so much love and support? This is the opportunity we've all be waiting for, let's give back to the Jan who has given so much of herself to others.

We are still in great need of items or services for our raffles, silent auction and games. These items could include gift certificates and new household items, anything sports, crafts, gift baskets etc. Go together with a friend or a group, be creative, be unusual! If anyone can help out please email me at garden.junkie -at- (note the . and replace -at- with @)

Date: November 4, 2006
Time: 7:00 P.M. This is an early start for people who are from out of town. Please try to be on time.
Place: Masonic Hall, 24 James Street East, Orillia, Ontario
Please bring cash ATM not available
Buffet: To be served at approximately 10:00 P.M.
Cash Bar

If you can't make it to the benefit dance and you would still like to make a donation please make cheques payable to "Jan Walton" and mail to:

Angela Black
301 French Street
Oshawa, Ontario
L1G 5N4

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogs Oct 5-15

October 15

My loved Jan,

You decided not to go to "Sunday Night". Everyone missed you.

I am overwhelmed to hear that you are so present in so many hearts... but I am not surprised because you know how to be a friend. You take the risks in the name of friendship of opening up, following up, giving and sometimes not getting anything in return. That is the mystery of friendship, no one knows who will be your closes friend in the next five or ten years. It just happens. But for people like yourself, it seems easier. And as the saying goes: "a friend in need is a friend indeed", you have received so much love from your friends since the aneurysm, and the whole community keeps you in their prayers.

Your decision not to go was fatigue. All of us know that this will be one of the most lasting symptoms of your healing. The brain seem to use so much of the energy that your stamina just drops like a stone in the river. One minute you are engaged in lively discussion, the next you are without energy. Is it the medication? But then again, without it the risks seem greater. What a conundrum!


October 11

Dear Jan,

You've been having a rough start of the week. First, there was a big "kafuffle" with our passenger on the way to the Thanksgiving dinner in Barrie. Something said that you took as a criticism ignited a very emotional response from you. I am sorry that it took away some of the happiness from the dinner.

I am more intrigued with how your perception is affected when you are under stress. It is as if your brain decided what you hear regardless of what your interlocutor says. I was more concerned that when we discussed the issue the following day under a more friendly and relaxed atmosphere, you still denied the content of the conversation. Something in the comprehension of spoken speech is still under repair... I write this to remind you that we all love you anyways, regardless of the miscommunications and perceived impatience from our part that you experience... I am the first culprit on this one, but I also have more practice in not taking your reactions personally, but rather as a product of the current healing that its going on in your brain. Others are learning the "occupational risks" of providing support of getting close to you. I really admire and deeply thank those friends with whom you feel accepted and have wonderful conversations, in particular those who come on regular basis to keep you company. God bless them all.

On another topic, I imagine these thousands of microscopic "Fragglerock-like" creatures in their overalls, all wearing their safety helmets and steel-toe boots, moving up and down the ladders and scaffolding, reconnecting the broken neuropaths and replacing the damaged neurons... It is really a miracle what is happening inside your brain.

So, I pray that the love expressed in so many ways by all your friends can contribute also to the healing.


October 8

Dear Jan,

Yesterday we went for brunch with Steve and Sue. You had the Eggs Benedict that you liked (more evidence of your memory) from the last time we went with them about a month ago.You laugh a lot now with both sides of your mouth. Until recently, the right side of your body has been dormant. All the muscles are fine, but the brain is still working on connecting sensation and control. I cannot imagine what is it like to live with only half of my body! Health professionals call it right neglect. However, you are doing wonderfully! In the Spring, you were not able to walk more than 50 meters with the aid of a walker. Now you can take long walks from the house to the park and back (about 1 Km.)

I have to say that I liked your half smiles but I won't miss them, I can't even imitate them. I am thrilled with your full smiles and the laughter, which indicates that one of the functions damaged by the aneurysm -understanding of humour- has been rewired and now is operational.

Thank God! because one of the things that I fell in love with was your smiles.-Fede

October 6

Dear Jan

Every other Friday we have a very dear friend and mentor for dinner, we talk, we laugh and then we watch a movie. Amazing friendship, unforgetable conversation, and above all, the wonder and gratitude we experience when you discuss topics, introduce your point of view, tell me on my face that that is my version and that I am most likely wrong, and then hear you say that you cannot yet talk... Imagine!That short term memory is getting a boost.

I notice that at the end of the movies you can recall the scenes and most of the conversations. Sometimes I play by changing the plot, or by inventing alternative endings, but you keep me right on line with the movie.

One word describes my reaction to these months of remaking the functions of your brain: wonder. Between you and God that brain has rebuilt and rewired so much! You are truly a wonder.


October 4

Dear Jan

Even though the aneurysm happened in your brain, its effects have been wide and reached many people. Your brain injury had ripple effects through the communities that know you. You are a people person; you have so many friends that I have lost the count. I hope these lines tell you of how your friends showed their love for you.

I have seen many of them at the hospitals. On the second night after your operation, the Runnymede community came to the hospital to spend the whole night praying for you and supporting the family. Linda and Joy spent the whole first night in the ICU with us. One day during the second month, a large group of the Milton community came to the hospital see you, that day you were not in a good shape and the community just met in the chapel. I remember that Jim shared with us that day a message he had received for you: “that all that it’s Jan’s will be restored”. Friends from Oakville, Lindsay, Orillia, Toronto, and even those in other provinces and countries were touched by your aneurysm, many of them continued through the weeks that became months, their loyal support. Dad came from Mexico with Beto, my sisters from Spain and Florida, and there are those like D. Scott who has been faithfully driving you to the hospital once a week, months after. I know you don't remember most of it, but know that they were there by your side physically and in prayers.

It is like the aneurysm really was a collective event, shared by many in prayers, bringing lunches to the hospital, talking to you, promising to help you in practical ways in the long term. What a wonderful community of friends you have!

The effects for me have been of a life-changing nature. On days when I think I have seen them all, something happens that makes me realize that I haven’t seen the last ripple yet.

These days you are changing medication for the third time. The change has made you very irritable and sensitive. Well, you were sensitive before but this is just magnified. Then, combine that with my insensitivity and block-headedness and you have a highly volatile situation. In the past two weeks you have said that you will leave about two dozen times, you have ostracized me countless times, and even yesterday you had again a match with the surgeon because he was asking me questions instead of asking you. The laconic answer from the surgeon sums up well my options: “you’ll have to put up with it”.

Ripple effects, long reaching, fill my days and make me sing a song happy and blue, hopeful and puzzled, all at once. Ripple effects that send us up and down in this ocean of time and unearth the true nature of love and pain. Ripple effects that brought closer true friends and left other lost in the misty nature the past.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Memoirs of a Survivor

Dear Jan,

I don't know if anyone other than me reads this blog anymore. The first intention was to keep everyone informed about your status right after the aneurysm. That was many months ago, when your life was a question in our hearts. Then as the days passed, people wanted to follow your progress, so I kept writing this blog. At some point, when I realized that you would not remember many of the events that followed, I decided to write these notes addressed to you so you would have a memory in the future of the months, the struggles, the hopes and the steps you have taken so far. One day, I hope you will read these lines and you will be grateful to be a survivor of an aneurysm.

Much has been written, much has been left out. The blog wanted to reflect on the complexity of life made more complex with a near-death event. Some days I just can’t write because of the pain to see you struggling with a lazy right side and the broken words. I look up and I am tempted to ask why? Then, in silence I wait for the comfort promised by our Friend. Other times, I feel hopeful when you show progress, then I realize how little are the little things that can make us happy. We learn, we pray, we argue, we become impatient, we forgive, and we continue loving each other in this dark back alley we have been walking. But, there is light, there is hope, there is song, and above all, there is peace and the certainty that somehow this is leading us to be closer to the Master.

One day, when you read these lines, you will read the memories of our joint path in this inexplicable living parable that we have been asked to write. True, they are written only by one of us, I wonder what they would be like if you were writing them, probably more frank and brutally honest. But I am going on limb here. I have never before exposed my private thoughts and pain as I have done here. So, I believe that even if this is my take on this story, it is as honest as a thickheaded, insensitive, one-dimensional, self-centered, one-track-mind man can do.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Quiet time

Dear Jan:

Although you have quite a bit of time surrounded by silence, the time you are taking this weekend to visit your sister is a time for quiet of a different kind. With five kids around, her house is not quiet, however, there is a certain tranquility, a certain ease and peace that you can feel as soon as we entered the door. It could be the freedom to be yourself or the open arms policy they have, I don't know for sure, but one thing is for certain: you and your sister do have a profound bond that requires little communication to be activated.

It was Louise's 29th (and holding) b'day. Warm, happy, hearthy. They love hosting and the guests love the food and the attentions. Your sister was radiant and beautiful, happy to be surrounded by the family. I think this is the first time I didn't feel like an outsider. We talked about moves and family plans. It is clear we are the "sandwich" generation, looking after Mom's business and looking after the next generation. How strange! It feels like it was only a few years back when I used to go to my grandma's home every Sunday to meet with the whole living in exile in this country, your family has become my definition of family.

You are so loved and very much a part of the Walton clan. I am glad to have been adopted by all of them. I wonder what role they play in your healing... everything is connected to an emotional base, and this is one of the strongest basis you have.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Broken words

Dear Jan,

Under normal circumstances a relationship between a man and a woman is difficult to say the least. As a man I have been told by women that I am not a good listener, that I am selfish, that I am insensitive, that I don't keep my word, that I don't understand what she wants at any given time and that if I understand, I pretend I didn't, that I don't help, that I don't really listen, that I am disconnected from my feelings, that I am a user, and so forth. There is some truth in all of this, but there is a great deal of misunderstanding as well.

Do you remember when we were married only for a couple of months under what everyone could call "normal circumstances"? We had decided that to ensure that we would not fall into the incommunication nightmares many couples experience; we were going to read together the book Secrets to Lasting Love, by G. Smalley and put into practice some of the basic rules of conversation suggested in the book. Well, we didn't quite make it past the fourth chapter before your aneurysm, but I did learn some valuable principles that kept me going during that time. We were learning the basis for our journey into a deeper, more intimate communication that would allow us to really understand each other and provide a strong foundation for our life as a couple. Eight months later and one year after our wedding I realize that some of those principles were useful under normal circumstances, however, our circumstances are all but normal.

Lately the Aphasia you are struggling with has found a way to get under our skins, and the level of frustration has risen. Not only you can't communicate your ideas fast and clear as they come to your mind, but also your feelings seem to come out scrambled and in pieces. Your sensitivity is heightened to the modulation of voice, to volume, to expressions; when fatigue comes to you, it also affects language and communicatoin, and at times, I find myself in the dog house without really knowing what happened, what did I do to cause your frustration or sadness. It feels like the normal complications in the communication within a couple are multiplied dozens of times. And so, feeling guilty, frustrated, and missunderstood, I question if I really learned anything from our early readings; if I am listening to the facts and beyond, to your feelings and needs. The conflict seems to come faster than it should and without any warning.

Nonetheless, every time I am surprised at the resilience of the love in both of us that started this relationship, and at that misterious healing that occurs when we set our concerns and expectations aside and really hear each other's feelings and needs. Your convalescence imposes more understanding from my part. I was told early at the hospital not to take attacks or rejection from you as something personal, but to see it as the "injury" talking its pain out. At first, it was very difficult to do this, but I would pick the shattered pieces of my sensitive self off the pavement and I would come back with a fresh mind and no grudges. I learned to hear you beyond the words; to hear your needs and your feelings. This was sufficient ground upon which I could stand and from which I could embrace you again and again.

I still use the same approach, but it doesn't work always. Sometimes we both end up crushed by the broken words from your Aphasia and the broken words from my emotional incompetence.

We continue loving each other because we both believe in the divine source and nature of any kind of love and we both share a sense of call to love eah other. It is perhaps the intentionality of our love, the determination beyond-reason to extend each other grace time and time again what keeps us together more than anything else. Broken words can only break communication and broken communication breaks relationships. Some friends have told me that when they were broken and in need their partners left them. I suppose they expected that I would do the same. But here I am, still at your side and inexplicably loving you each day more.

Thank you Jan for helping me to patch my broken emotions as I help you patch your words.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Dear Jan:

It's been a while since the last blog. No excuses, because we have spent a lot of time together in the past two weeks. I cannot say that life with you boring or dull, on the contrary, since I met you, I receive everyday with expectation and the certainty that you will not let me go empty-handed without some form of adventure or excitement for the day.

One major event this week was that on September 17, we celebrated the first anniversay of our wedding! Steve and Sue took us to the Old Mill, a beautiful restaurant in the west. It's hard to believe that one year has passed. My perception of time feels off because of the time spent in the hospital. But here we are! Only one year and with so much learned. I reafffirm in my heart that you are the best blessing in my life. I celebrate your character that does not give up in front of adversity. I embrace your love for life and for me. I dance of joy for the strength of your faith which is the way you love your Master, I delight in the love of our families and friends. One year with you has taught me so much about life and death, pain and hope, and above all about the power of love. I look forward to the future knowing that you will be by my side, always ready to fill my days with adventure and life.

I love you Jan. I am glad you said yes a year ago.


Friday, September 08, 2006

1st week of school

Dear Jan:

You did not have to rush Tuesday morning to the first day of classes; in fact, you slept in peacefully to let your healing continue. However, I noticed your glances and sensed some nostalgia when we walked past the high shool in the neighbourhood. Heavy sights, happy memories of days past when you looked forward to this day, I don't know what kind of struggle went on in your mind, but the sense of loss was obvious in your eyes. Your desire has not diminish in the least, this year you can't teach because you still can't read much, you can't teach or be able to control or even be in a classroom with more than 3 or 4 people at a time. Your energy lasts you 4

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Love and Rehab

Dear Jan,

Of the more than 16,000 days of your life the last 200 days have been without a doubt the most challenging. Some have been unbearable, full of pain; others have been lonely and disorienting, your brain trying to define your self and those around you; still others have been full of hope and joy, basking in the love of those who felt loved by you in the past and love you in return. Your resistance has been tested, your character observed, your faith and your capacity to trust put to the ultimate test. And you have beat the odds, the pain, the uncertainty, the loneliness and have challenged the prognosis that talked of things that you would not do and functions you had lost that now persistently you want to prove you can rebuild. At times it feels like you trained all your life to run this race, and that you have set your mind to win, that the race is about something higher than just recovering functions, that it reaches deeper and is changing your thinking, your believing and your doing. You have come a long way, you moved from the emergency operating room to critical care to intensive care to a general ward, then transferred to a rehabilitation hospital from which you were sent home last June and where you are still receive out-patient re-hab therapies. The trip has not been pleasant, the lack of a map makes it uncertain, but the abundance of love from relatives, church-friends, colleagues and even your boss has made it more bearable. In 200 days you have seen a life of an unknown quality; you have amazed everyone with your determination and continue to fight the grey of everyday life with a smile.

The days after the operation you laid unconscious, your life hanging from a thread, the medical team keeping all expectations to a minimum, because all of the blood vessels in your brain could react “angrily” to the injury, and just seize-up, kill the brain. Your body kept breathing in, breathing out, with help; the ventilator and dozens of sensors connected to monitors detected every small sign of life from your body; they told an electro-mechanical story of your fight for life. Then, one day you opened your eyes. I remember the excitement I felt when slowly you scanned your surroundings with your eyes, then found my face and looked straight into my eyes. For a few seconds you stopped all movement, like trying to find in your memory who was this person and when you had found me your lips hinted a smile. Slowly you came back from the unknown ocean where you had been. From there on, I knew you were going to live.

These days are truly full of mystery, full of questions larger than life. There are some questions that everyone thinks but few dare to ask them aloud. I will ask them on another day because you have already given me the answers. For now, let me remind you that you cried yesterday when I told you are deeply loved as you were, as you are and as you will become. Then, we just laid quietly side by side holding hands knowing that love has healed us and will continue to do so.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Private pain, public praise

Dear Jan,

I was thinking this morning about how much of our lives are kept private, and how much lost potential this represents to grow as human beings for both the one keeping the pain secret and the ones who don’t get to hear about it. This thought came from the exposition of the concept that we all are part of one body, and that when one part hurts, all the parts hurt…even if the other parts are kept in the dark about the pain of this one.

Last night Monika and Wolf invited us to join them at the Sanctuary in Oakville. I’m sorry I didn’t have a camera. When we arrived you were greeted with an incredible joy and love. Moved deeply, you were sobbing and laughing at the same time as you hugged those dear friends. Somehow, they seemed to have a secret passage to your core. How tender the love extended to you also from the pastor himself. I have absolutely no doubt that you are loved beyond measure and that this love stimulates and heal something deep inside of you. Perhaps it is the demonstration of the corollary that the pastor was talking about: we are one because that is how God designed us. The skeptic only needs to see God’s fingerprints in you and those in the Sanctuary, [and in other similar groups] the many faces of the God within moving closer each one to embrace with this divine love the other. This is why it seemed paradoxical the fact that we still keep much of our pain private, when the greatly needed relief and healing can only come by sharing the pain or its causes with those who love us they way these friends love you.

And I am trying not to suffer or to rejoice in secret because of setbacks or triumphs in your healing. In fact, this is one of the side benefits of writing this blog, to share with everyone interested enough to read it not only a cold occasional report about you, but also a slice of our journey complete with the joy, the sadness and the paradoxical nature of real life. It is true that we forfeit our privacy in these matters, but the love we gain far outweighs the loss. How much private [individualistic] do we want to be when the preacher said it so clearly: we are one in Jesus. It seems that our unhealthy emphasis on privacy often can be a thin disguise of selfishness. Either we are one or we are not. In any case, I am glad that we share our private pain with those who care for you, these can only generate public praise for the Master who makes us one, and for your many faithful and generous friends.

You were so radiant after the meeting in that movie theater where this soul-and heart-family meets. You were so happy to go to Wolf and Monika’s place for brunch. The joy overflowing all over your face, the intense participation in the conversation after tea, the sheer freedom you felt basking in their love made my day. We even forgot you have Aphasia…


Friday, September 01, 2006


Remember to read the blog from August 30 about the Benefit Dance.

Dear Jan,

You can talk at so many levels of conversation and use such a ample range of concepts that I often forget that you are struggling with Aphasia. The other night LL came for dinner and to warch a movie with us. You were so pleased and relaxed. You helped set up the table and explain the food in a very complete way. Then we watched an insightful movie about the need to find in yourself the drive to excel in life. LL commented after the movie that we are incomplete by design so we can go back to the designer to continue the life-long process of becoming more complete. You were so enthusiastic with your comments that not even the language breakdowns could stop you from participating. I enjoy so much watching you interact with your visiting friends. I wished that this was the tone of all of our interactions.

Nevertheless, the next morning at breakfast I experienced the exact opposite when I served some yogurt whitout asking first if you wanted some. You pushed the container and said 'NO, NO, NO! I always have told you so' in a loud voice. I replied impatiently: 'at least you could be more polite and say 'no, thanks' . What followed was a sample of how each of us brought our own incompleteness to the relationship and could have wrecked the whole day if we didn't become conscious of the needs of the other before reacting. We pushed each other's buttons and the trip to the hospital was made in complete silence.

I know that part of the healing is the magnification of emotions. I know that it is not your heart but a broken brain that is talking. I know I don't need to personalize your reactions; instead I need to reground myself and read in between the lines. I know. I know... but tiredness or frustration or feeling not valued in my efforts to feed you just hit me the wrong way.

And so the incompleteness became very apparent. You have an excuse. I don't.

If it wasn't for the love and the grace that we extend to each other after a "cooling time", I don't know how else we would be able to survive.

I suspect that frustration is part of living with others. Only the hermits don't have someone else to frustrate or be ticked-off and then have the chance to forgive and love them back again. We both experience our share of frustration these days. I don't know if it will get better with time, because even the Master felt frustrated and sad with those who rejected his message. Whwat we can learn is more patience with each other.

Thank you Jan for being so aware of your part and mine and for being open to take the next step together before sending me to fly a kite.

Yes, there is still a lot to complete in your rehabilitation, and also a lot to complete in my growth as a person. On a daily basis, we both receive that extra portion of patience we need and more...


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Benefit Dance for Jan


Hi Everyone! My name is Angela and I am Jan's cousin. My sister Tina and I are planning the benefit dance for Jan.

DATE: November 4, 2006

PLACE: Orillia (Jan's Home Town)
Masonic Hall on James Street.

TIME: 7:00 P.M.

A buffet will be served at approximately 10:00 P.M.

There will be a silent auction, raffles, door prizes, games etc. Donations of items or services suitable for these fundraising event are appreciated .

The event is still weeks away so plan to attend. Let's really pull together and help Jan, it's up to us!

If you can donate any items please email me at

See you there!


Monday, August 28, 2006


Dear Jan,

Someone said that "the only way we know we know we haven't failed on this side of the divide is when you make a list of your friends". By this measure, your life Jan, is a total success. Your life has touched so many people; through the years you have cultivated so many deep friendships; you have invested time and energy, and now in your time of need, many of your friends have been there for you. The satisfaction of been cared for like this has no equal.

It's splendid to see the freedom and familiarity you have with some of your friends. The other day while we were in Lindsay, you just walked into one of your friends' home without much protocol. I don't know if they were gracious because they know how Jan is, or maybe they have this friendship with you that goes beyond conventions, that embraces you like one of the family.

You express so much joy and are so moved when I read for you the supporting emails from your friends or the comments in the blog. I can close my eyes and imagine the happy interactions you had with these friends. It's so refreshing to your heart to hear from those who count you as their friend. Your satisfaction written all over your face is so contagious. One day, when you have your writing skills re-installed, you will be able to share with them the value of their notes and the value of their support and love.

You were very pleased to see the responses so far to the invitation to attend the benefit dance in Orillia that your cousin is organizing in November 4. One of your former students is planning to attend accompanied by her mother! I hope in this event you get a chance to see friends from the various cities where you have lived, the communities to which you belong, and the places where you have worked. I will not be surprised to see there people who do not know you, but who have heard about you through the blog or other common friends and love you anyways.

You are rich by the number of friends you have Jan. Without their help, we would not have been able to navigate through these troubled waters. As the Beatles said: "Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends".

Several friends have set time aside to come and visit you every week for an hour or so. It is a concrete commitment to walk through these days with you. They are teaching us that friendship is sacred and also to be worn everyday. "No one has greater love than He who is willing to give his life for his friends" said Jesus. They are giving of their precious time to be with you. I feel honoured by them and you feel valued.

May your friends know that their love is highly treasured by you.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Benefit Dance Update


Hi Everyone!

My name is Angela and I am Jan's cousin. My sister Tina and I are planning the benefit dance for Jan.
The Dance is being held in Orillia, Jan's Home Town, at the Masonic Hall on James Street. The dance will start at 7:00 P.M.
A buffet will be served at approximately 10:00 P.M.

There will be a silent auction, raffles, door prizes, games etc. I would really appreciate donations of items that would be good for these fundraising events.

The dance will be held on November 4, 2006. That is still weeks away so start saving your money now. Let's really pull together and help Jan, it's up to us! If you can donate any items please email me at

See you there!


Friday, August 25, 2006


Dear Jan

I don't know with all certainty how much of your short term memory is still in the making. In the big picture is not really important, because this gives you the chance to really start with a blank slate every day. No memories, no regrets, no sadness, no losses, just hope for what the day will bring. What many consider a handicap for you it is a strength. You are a living paradox, like the paradoxical nature of The Kingdom., Every morning I find you to be in extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary strength and full of hope. You are truly blessed.

Yesterday we went to Burlington, to a lecture from Dr. Alex on glyconutrients. This physician had an aneurysm at 54, at the peak of his career. Then, lived disabled with 20% less of his brain for about 12 years feeling sorry for himself and giving up all hope that medicine would be able help him get better. Somehow, he was introduced to glyconutrients and his life and functions improved to the point where now he is an active adult with a full agenda and the physical condition of a man half his age. He went on for about 90 minutes giving ample evidence of the next paradigm shift in medicine to be brought about when glycoscience is better understood and adopted by alopaths. He was inspiring and sincere. Really sounded like a Don Quixote standing against the windmills of the Medicare establishment which is more concerned with dealing with illness and its symptoms rather than addressing the roots of these illness.

At the end of the almost two hours lecture, you were tired but mentioned in the car that you were feeling really excited for being able to accomplish this feat. Not only you followed the whole lecture, but also felt invigorated and validated in your hopes for a total recovery. Dr. Alex was a definite proof that you could come back and he represented for you a concrete example that it can be done. I shared your enthusiasm and also felt satisfied with the clarification of your objectives. Yes, you know how far you can go and you will do anything within your power to get there. This is the decisive Jan everyone knows.

Dr. Alex said glyconutrients are the next breakthrough in medicine. And he may be right, but it is a solution not within the reach of those who need it most. The supplements alone can cost a small fortune every year and their effects are slow. Moreover, their use is suggested for life.

Anyway, I like your take on this: it is God who will restore you, in the process he may use glyconutrients to regenerate the brain cells missing.

Bless your enthusiasm and joy.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Benefit dance


Come and join us in the celebration of Jan's Birthday (Nov. 3) and in support of her long term rehab. She has progressed so much, but there is still a long road to go and she needs you. Come, join us to celebrate her survival to an aneurysm and encourage her in the marathon of her life to regain the functions affected.

When? Saturday, November 4, 2006
Time? 7PM
Place? Orillia (about 80 minutes North of Toronto)
Food: there will be a buffet at 10 PM

CARPOOL: If there is enough interest, we can organize a carpool (or van) leaving from the High Park area in Toronto.

Keep checking for more details in the upcoming blogs!

The frontline

Dear Jan:

Your biggest battle these days is with carbamazepine. Because of the threat of seizures you had to restart your medication for the forseeable future. It sounds reasonable to take some medication to prevent greater risks. Then, why so much resistance?

I don't know the whole answer, but I realize that it is not so much the medication as the setback it dealt to your progress. Up until 10 days ago you were doing great. Your speech was better each week, your stamina was admirable and you were really working hard on that right side. Then, all this came crashing down in the last week when your energy level has been diminished considerably, when your speech fluency took a few steps back, and your body in general feel lousy and fatigue sets in quickly. As the days progress, you are regaining some ground, but it really is a battle.

I realized that you can cary out a conversation and sound very fluent for the untrained ear, but after participating in some of the speech therapy sessions, I realize that there are still some important gaps in your understanding and expressing. Most of us tend to be very forgiving and fill in the gaps when your sentences are incomplete; the therapists, on the other hand, stick to the goal of finding the correct words to express your ideas in a complete form. If you miss a word they will ask you to write it or to spell it and then pronounce it. I am the first culprit as I often find myself completing your sentences. I guess it is time to be more aware of the importance to help you re-write your brain dictionaries, instead of filling them with blanks.

Keep up the good work, we all feel inspired by your tenacity and courage in the frontline




Dear All:

Pencil this date in your calendars! This is the opportunity you were waiting for to help Jan and have fun while doing it. Angie (Jan's cousin) is organizing this exciting fundraising event.


Come and join us in the celebration of Jan's Birthday (Nov. 3) and in support of her long term rehab. She has progressed so much, but there is still a long road to go and she needs you. Come, join us to celebrate her survival to an aneurysm and encourage her in the marathon of her life to regain the functions affected.

When? Saturday, November 4, 2006
Time? TBD
Place? Orillia (about 80 minutes North of Toronto)
Cost? TBD

Raffle: The organizers are planning a raffle with valuable and interesting prices. Don't miss it!

Remember, the proceeds will go to support Jan's added costs of rehabilitation (in particular those not covered by medicare)

Yes! the invitation is for everyone from Oakville, Toronto, Lindsay, and other towns where Jan's friends live.

CARPOOL: There will be a van or a bus (depending on the numbers) departing from Runnymede United Church, for those who prefer to share the trip there and back.

More details will be announced. Please RSVP as soon as possible by sending an email to You may be contacted by phone at a date closer to the event to confirm your attendance.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Dear Jan:

Something the preacher said tonight rang a bell: "often those who appear to have the least to be thankful for are the ones with the most thankful hearts"

True, I am not thankful all the time for your circumstances, however, in a strange way these are the times when, if I consciously stop, and really listen to that quiet voice inside of me, I can hear the thanks to The Lord from the bottom of my heart. And I realize that I am experiencing the most profound peace in the most troubling circumstances. However, I can't take credit for this transformation. In the mornings, the first thing my head tells me everyday is to scream in protest, to refuse to accept the injustice, to fill in what sometimes feels like the silence from God, to protest for his absence. But soon thereafter, I calm down and remain still. The voice comes clear: "look, I make all things new"[...] "be still and know that I am God" It is then that I overflow with thankfulness for what we are experiencing and the way this is deepening our trust and friendship with the Lord.

That's it. I can't explain it anymore. It's just bubbling in here, like a river. This calm is beyond my understanding. and it is expressed in thankfulness for keeping us alive and close to his side.

Then, when I look at you, I feel you closer to my heart; a precious delicate lamp shining on my path. With your quiet voice and your slow movements you confirm that everything is as it should be.



Dear Jan:

It was so moving to see you today putting your pearls on to go shopping.

You had a relaxed afternoon at the High Park, David an I are not the greatest musicians, but you enjoyed the singing anyway. Later we had a nice BBQ with home-made food. Great to see you using that right hand in the kitchen. To finish the day we saw a nice movie (The Emperors Club) that allowed you to give your comments on the subject of teachers and ethics.

There is a song that summarizes what I felt today:

"When the sun's shinning down on me
when the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name [...]
On the road marked with suffering
though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name"


Friday, August 18, 2006

Slowed down

Day 187

Dear Jan,

The past two days have been a bio-chemical re-adjustment for you. The medication has way to slow you down so much in your physical activity and in your speech that is hard to get to do even half of what you were doing last week. It is unfair that after functioning fine for three weeks, now you have to take these steps back.

I hope your body can get used soon to the medication and that you regain the momentum you had in your rehablitation until last week.

I wonder if someone among our friends knows how to organize a fundraiser. We need help to organize a fundraiser for therapies not covered by OHIP at the end of September.

Those who read these blog and can help, please contact us.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back on track, so to speak

Dear Jan,

After the scare from Monday, you keep moving on, rebuilding what was lost. But the road is not without it setbacks. The promise was that He would be with you every step of the the trip, not that the trip would be without pain and sometimes doubt.

Yesterday you were on the way to the hospital. David S. was the volunteer driver; but you didn't make it. You re-started the medication that morning and it caused nausea and dizzines. When you came back home covered in vomit, I could read on your face the magnitude of your dissilusionment. You took a bath and slept for most of the day.

Today was more "normal" -if there is such a thing-, I drove you to your therapies and to a visit to the Doctor. You complained that it wasn't fair that you wold have to go back to taking this medication. He tried to comfort you by saying that it would be for 6 to 12 months and then, he would re-assess. The words maybe were limited in your argumentation, but your ideas were perfectly clear. A positive development was the start of PHYSIOTHERAPY. The young specialist was very keen in getting a sense of your physical abilities. She checked for balance and strength in your limbs and her conclusion was that you are in excellent shape. There is some pain in the right shoulder and some limitation in the rotation of your arm, other than that, you are progressing fine.

Back on track, or at least that's how it seems today.

Rejoice about Monday and Tuesday and today.
Tomorrow is a mystery we both await with expectation.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Dear Jan

Last night, right after I finished posting the last blog, you arrived from your visit to Oakville. We talked a while and then we went to bed. As we were falling asleep, you turn to my side and began making strange noises and movements. It was dark, so I tought you were asking me for something. I turned the light on and then I realized you were having a seizure.

I felt as if someone would have knocked the wind out of me. Confused, I held you in my arms trying to keep your head from hitting the headboard. A sense of anger filled my chest as I thought what I could do. How much pain is enough? How much more grief does Jan have to take? Your body was rigid and trembling, your eyes were open but you were not seeing me; your pupils were dilated.

I gave you a medication and slowly the trembling diminished. I put some clothes on you and carried you to the car. Slowly we drove to St. Michael's by the lake. It was 11:47p.m.

At the emergency they were very helpfull when they saw that you were semi-unconscious. They moved you to a room called "resucitation", I don't know if it was because there were no other beds available. There, they connected you to several machines to monitor your vitals. About an hour later they took you to get a CT scan; the doctor came and examined you, then he decided to keep you for the night under observation.

I slept in two chairs for short periods of time. You were also in and out of sleep. It was 7:30 a.m. when they sent you home with indications that you will have to take the medication from which you were trying to be free. You cried out of frustration, we both were feeling defeated and tired.

The seizure came unexpectedly. We knew there was a possibility that you would have to stay in the medication for a few months. Now the prospects are that you will have to take it for life.

What to say? We lost this one. However, I am glad that there were no consequences from the seizure other than the suprise and pain, the fact that you will have to take this medication indefinitely, and being forced to spend the night at the hospital.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Six Months

Dear friends,

This is a glimpse on the most exciting and frightful six months of our lives.

Six months ago, one Friday afternoon Jan was trying on nail polish colours that would match her dress. She was getting ready for romantic evening, the Oakville church had organized a dinner and dance. It was going to be our first Valentines together. But it never happened. An aneurysm in Jan's brain bursted sending her to the hospital. That night, she was operated to clip the broken vessel. She was operated again two days latter to clear the hemorrhage and take out the damaged cells. The next morning, I still had in a plastic bag her cocktail dress and her fancy shoes. I was in the waiting area of the critical care unit where Jan laid in a coma. She didn't move, nor she could open her eyes or talk. To breath, she used a respirator -a computarized machine that did the breathing for her-. She was connected by dozens of wires to a computer that kept constantly checking her heartbeat, her blood pressure, and other vital signs as well as the pressure of the fluids in her cranial cavity. She spend two weeks in that unit until, she opened her eyes and began moving a little the left leg and arm. Occasionally, she grinned, partly in pain, and partly because she recognized the voices of those around her.

Then, one day, we celebrated because she was taken from the respirator. She was moved to the Intensive care unit where she spend two more weeks. The movement on her left side continued to increase; she also began pronouncing a few words hard to understand, she talked in a hushed voice. One day another patient in the unit got an infection and as a safety measure, all the visitors were forced to wear a gown, shoe covers, gloves and a mask. Jan made progress day by day. We celebrated that she could sit down on a special chair, it was about the end of the third week.

At the end of the fourth week she was moved to the general ward. She still had tubes through her nose into her bladder and an IV in her arm. To drink water, she used a little sponge on the tip of a stick to prevent her from choking with water. She constantly used her left leg to kick her blankets off. She could not go to the washroom by herself, which was a challenge for her sense of independence, in fact she was totally dependent on the staff to eat, wash herself or even to pass water or have a stool. On occasion, the nurses tied her to the bed frame because she would pull the IV and the feeding tube off. One day she pulled the catether from her bladder off, and was in pain for while. At week number six, she was aware of who she was and where she was. She became more aware of visitors and her conversation was more clear. Her energy allowed her to talk for about 30 minutes and then without any warning, she would just close her eyes and fall asleep. At about that time, I began taking her on trips to the cafeteria on a wheelchair. She would enjoy the outing for about 30 minutes and then she would just drop her head to the side and droop. She began walking with the aid of a walker. She would go to the bathroom in her room by herself. Everyone was pleased with her progress. By this time she had no tubes going into her body. For about a month she had been going home for the weekends. She could not walk up or down the stairs without help. She talked more and more every week. In one of those visits, she played the guitar; with her left hand she made the notes while I strung the chords with my right. It was quite a sight! Her stamina was increasing. She could participate in activities for a couple of hours. Still, she slept over 14 hours a day. Her head took a strange shape without the lateral bone flaps. The surgeon decided to keep them off until the swelling of the brain was under control. In spite of this, she never accepted to use a hat or to conceal the visible indentation. She decided that this was not her problem but the problem of those who felt uncomfortable with her looks. This was 100% Jan. On week seven, at the end of March, she was moved to the rehabilitation hospital.

This was the beginning of a hopefull stage. She was involved in speech therapy from the strart and later joined occupational and physiotherapy. The physical danger had been resolved, now the big question in everyone's minds was how much of her functions she would recover. In this stage, on Easter Friday, we went ot church. Everyone was at the same time surprised and happy to see her walking up to the front to take a pair of nails to a wooden cross. As Linda latter said, it was a whiff of Easter Sunday on Friday. Jan continued to improve in her walking, speech and energy. Now she could carry out lengthy conversations and walk a Kilometer. At this hospital Jan had more positive feedback and happy experiences while observing her own progress. As a survivor of ABI (acquired brain injury) she found herself battling with Aphasia and Apraxia -the inability to find words to attach to ideas and the difficulty of moving the muscles to pronounce correctly the words she could find. Physically, she arrived at this hopsital with limited movement in her right side. A "frozen" shoulder on the right made movement of the right arm more difficult. Slowly, reality sinked in and she realized that this was going to be a lengthy process in which the main challenge was going to be to have enough patience to overcome the frustration. During her stay in this hospital, Jan went back for a one day operation to get her lateral bone flaps back in. Her head looked round again. Her hair would grow back and cover the large scar that runs along the hair line from the middle of her head to the temple. She would continue now with the complex process of recovering her speech and mobility. She was discharged from this hospital at the end of May, exactly two months since her arrival. Almost sixteen weeks since the first operation, Jan was finally going home.

June and July were busy months. We moved from the house in the north of the city to an apartment closer to where our communities of support are. Packing moving, unpacking and there you have eight weeks gone. Our new place is cozy, maybe a bit smaller than what our belongings require. Jan saw this as a good opportunity to downsize and she has done it ruthlessly. She has taken the motto: all the memories that are worth keeping, are for the most part inside of your head. In the middle of August, six months after the operation, Jan can be awake now for 12 hours in a row, she will carry on a conversation for hours, she may take a short break now and then, but she is beggining to enjoy her friends again. She makes her own telephone calls, the words still get stuck and she will have to rephrase her idea to get her point out, but she will not quit. Her right arm is moving every week more and more. She said, she feels how the right hand "awakens". She needs to build strenegth but she is advancing. Last week, she took her bike and went for a ride. She has repeated this three other times, everytime a longer ride. Her concern is the limited vision in her right eye, she cannot see what is in the right field of vision, and is afraid of hitting or being hit by something from the right side. She can use the right hand to eat and has began writing. Reading is still a problem, as is following complex commands. A week ago she participated in the singing group at church, she didn't sang the actual words but kept humming to make a perfect harmony.

After six months, many things have changed inside and outside of Jan. Despite the odds against her, she has continued to rebuild her life and make the best of what she has. Her faith is steady. She believes this happened for a reason and even though she doesn know it now, her trust is in someone greater than the process, "in the big scope of things, she says, this is insignificant" , what counts is the character that we developed from this pain.