Friday, April 14, 2006


For the last few days we have been anxiously waiting for a number of assessments to be completed, which the experts required before giving Jan permission to get a weekend pass. This just reminded me about how fragile is that situation we call freedom, that power to decide where to go, what to do, or what to think. Institutions can take it away in the name of safety, or fear, or love, or even faith in the blink of an eye. I admire Jan's determination to stick to the truth because it, inevitably leads her back to Jesus, her source of truth: "you shall know the truth, and the truth shal set you free".

Yes, we have been anxious, because we feared that permission would be denied. The "team" had argued that they still didn't know well Jan's physical or cognitive abilities to avoid danger or ask for help. So, the deal was that instead of only assessing her, I was also assessed on my capacity to take care of Jan and protect her. For those who know us some, this sounds a bit bizarre. But that's what you get when you open an institution:Institutionalized thinking, standarization of life, procedures, hierarchies and control. Jan's life suddenly becomes "another case". The individual seems to have little else to do in front of this wall of procedures, other than to fight for her freedom and dignity.

If you know Jan, you know she is a fighter. That is what she has been doing in the last few days. I admired Jan's logic before the aneurysm, I now admire her also for her determination to stand up and challenge the institution's shortsightedness in spite of the aphasia and apraxia. What a sight! There is Jan thinking a thousand miles and hour and her mouth going at 20 miles and hour and sometimes stalling, giving the wrong words or simply nodding in frustration. But don't be deceived by appearences, behind these communication barriers, Jan is the same fighting soul and brain, and now, probably stronger.

So, the "establishment" gave in to her vehement debates and persistence. She was not going to let them decide about where she was going to spend this special weekend. Way to go Jan!

But, I love Jan also for her spirituality and her deep connection with her feelings.

When I arrived after work, she was waiting in the main floor, looking out the window for me. I felt embraced by her anticipation for my arrival. She was annoyed that I was late and that I hadn't eaten supper. No matter, her love showed more than her annoyance, like the Spring sunshine, too bright to be concealed. We went to the cafeteria -now closed- and bought a handful of junk food from the machines, then went to the TV room in her floor and played scrabble for a while.

Jan is moving more freely with the help of a walker. Sometimes she stands up, walks for a few meters without any help, before she realizes that she needs the walker! She also puts her right hand carefully on the walker and clamps that hand to the handle. She is obviously trying to get that side moving. However, before going to bed, she said that all her right side is "tingling" and without much sensations except pain when handled roughly.

Jan is going into this Easter with a clear knowledge that she has gone through some sort of death -or near death- experience. However, her spirituality about death is not morbid, but rather hopeful, because, just as her Lord raised again, she is also hoping to stand up again, not some day in a far and away place, but here among her loved friends and family.

Have a blessed holiday, whatever you believe or do not believe.



Iconoclast said...

Federico and Jan!

Wow. Yes, I celebrate this weekend resurrection with you. Jan and I were discussing (whilst you were snoring FC!) how we live with an open hand. What God removes, he removes, what He gives, He gives. To grasp nothing as if it is ours. But to savour everything we have.

The death of Christ seemed for three days a really bad idea. However, the 'beyond' was so much better in resurrection and power.

The aneurysm seemed like a really bad idea as well. However, the 'beyond' is not yet complete.

The 'beyond' that has begun I see in how you two have developed such closeness so quickly; how Jan has learned to use her strength of character when her strongest tool for leveraging it(words) is limited; how so many people have strengthened their own resolve to live life large (me included), I am encouraged to look beyond.

Romans talks about our 'present sufferings' not being compared to our 'future glory'. I see that future glory having already started in you both. I'm proud to know you and to celebrate new life in so many ways this easter. We savour the resurrection of our dear friend Jan at this Easter time.

Thank you God for Easter!

Love, David

Martha said...

Dear Fede and Jan,

How amazing was it to sit in church with you both this morning for the Good Friday service?!!!

It was beyond words.

Seeing you walk up to the front of the church to place the nails (which Fede so beautifully made into a cross) at the foot of the cross was so moving. Watching you greet your good friend Linda was incredible. Listening to Margaret tell you her story of recovery from her aneurysm was inspiring. Witnessing the love of a faith community surrounding you was a testimony to Christ's healing love.

You continue to inspire us Jan, filling us with faith, hope and love. May God continue to protect you and heal you with his amazing love.

Many blessings on this Holy Week-end.


Ret said...

How wonderful and exciting to know that You were able to go home for the Easter weekend! Have a wonderful Easter! I am so happy for you, Jan.