Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Many days from now, maybe years, you will be able to re-read these lines and remember the incredible journey you had. You are an involuntary member of a small group of survivors of SAH (subarachnial hemorrhage). You were not asked to participate in this path. One evening exactly 5 months ago, a little artery burst in your brain altering the rest of your life and mine.

The questions I have had changed as time went by. In the beginning I asked whether your life would be spared; then I kept asking what was the prognosis. To both questions I only received vague answers from medical staff. They were keen only to mention the risks but none of them offered any hope. When it was clear that your life was safe and that you had to work on rehabilitation to get back your speech and movement on your right side, my questions were more still based on the hundreds of ways of asking why: why were you touched in your areas of strength? why being a teacher, you were denied the basic skill required to teach, why loving singing, you voice was taken from you? why. why, why? At five months my questions are no longer why but how: How are you going to realign your life with what you get back? How are we going to fucntion as a couple? How are we going to serve?

LIfe is not the same for both of us, and it is becoming clear that it will never be the same as before. Although this may sound pessimistic, I realize that looking back and yearning for the "good old days" may be precisely missing this tremendous opportunity to grow and learn, to look at life from a different point of view in spite of the losses and pain. I have spent many days struggling with self-pity, and I know you are going through the same struggle, the only difference is that I can verbalize it, while, right now, you can't.

This weekend I saw this struggle very close. I heard the silence, I saw the tears, I sensed the frustration and observed the physical and emotional pain. It didn't matter that your family was close or that the schedule was set to unwind and relax; your soul, your mind and your body all suffered. I can't imagine what is it like to be imprisoned in that cell of broken comunication. I felt so strongly that if it was possible, I would trade places with you, not only out of love for you, but also to deal with the pain of being an observer with no way to make our days brighter and more "normal". But this is the path we have to walk, the new reality we are asked to face; each with different things to learn.

Nevertheless, today, instead of dweeling in self-pity, we both embraced the pain and saw it as something temporal, as the other side of life and love, as the contrast to appreciate the goodness of life: dark only highlights the light; silence, the sound; pain, the peace. I personally began counting the number of things you can do, and both as a couple. After a while, as the list grew longer, I realized that we are blessed. That the barriers are real, but smaller than I thought. That when your life was hanging by a thread, many of our friends prayed and you lived; and now, many of these same friends continue to pray with the certainty that you will be restored. I don't know how much you will be restored, but that is not the point anymore. The process so far has been rich in lessons about love, faith, solidarity, persistence, service, tears and joy, to name a few. A more important question is how are we going to incorporate this event into our lives. In which way is The Lord going to use this situation to bless others and ourselves. So, there is no time or room for self-pity.

One day, I hope we will be able to look back and lift our hands in praise to The Lord. Right now, you are quiet after crying for a while, and that is alright too.


1 comment:

Ret said...

Hi Jan! You have DEFINTELY come a LONG way since the first time I saw you asleep in that hospital bed, just being able to smile when you saw me, but still unable to even swallow liquid. I like to believe what Joyce Meyer often preaches about how God wants to give you DOUBLE for your trouble! You will be restored. My mom has a neighbour who went through a similar ordeal and she's completely recovered. Someday all this will just seem like a strange dream and everything will be back to normal. It may seem a long way off right now, but another thing Joyce always says in her sermons is "I may not be where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be." Progress takes place in small steps, like eating the proverbial elephant, "one bite at a time!"
I'll never forget the song I learned when I was helping you with the children's choir

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end,
They are new every morning,
new every morning,
Great is thy faitfullness O Lord,
Great is thy faithfullness."

Another one Janette and I have often sung to comfort ourselves in times of trouble is this one:

"Don't give up on the brink of a miracle,
Don't give up, God is still on the throne,
Don't give up on the brink of a miracle
Just remember, you're never alone."

And if all else fails, here's a spinning leek to stare at, LOL!