Friday, December 28, 2007

Year end summary

As the clock ticks away this year, I am still looking for a phrase or a concept that would allow me to define its meaning, a way to talk about beyond the taxonomy of repeating the entries of my daybook listing appointments, travel, things to do, projects to finish, people to call… this is just what I’ve lived through, the actions that occupied my time and were plotted in my calendar. 2007 has something more to give, a meaning that I can’t see, probably because I am too close to it to be able to gain perspective. One thing I can say is that it was a continuation of the demolition of my old self that started the year before.

In 2007, sometimes I witnessed of the transformation of my beliefs, my dreams, the very definition of the man who answers to my own name. It is as if somehow what I was living vicariously through Jan, inexplicably became my own existence. Jan was the one with the aneurysm; she is the one who underwent surgery; she is the one struggling with aphasia, I was just the observer…or was I? In the past twelve months I have reviewed my definition of reality. I don’t’ see the process any longer as if I was observing from the other side the looking glass. Jan’s aneurysm was also mine, as much as her struggle with aphasia this year is also mine.

What does the Bible mean when it says that a man and a woman become one? Is it a comment on the sexuality of the relationship? or, does it refer to the children they beget? or is it a process whereby two individuals begin to dissolve their boundaries to the point where there is one shared psyche through which common dreams, visions, communication and life can be expressed and experienced as one? The believers of the “revolving door” theory of marriage insist that we remain individuals for life, enjoying the conveniences and good feeling marriage can bring as long as it lasts. Perhaps this is how I thought before, having myself participated in the dissolution of a marriage. Bt this time I find myself dealing with a different matrix, and different parameters I have to use to define reality. And this is where the change of my essence is taking place.

In 2005, when Jan and I decided to marry, I told myself to mean what I said and say only what I meant to do. So, I pledged her my love, my company, my words, my support regardless of her circumstances, not knowing that soon I would have a chance to test my resolution. 22 months after her stroke, I know I had to say that pledge, because it represented a matter of life or death. I could have done what I did before: retract my words, and run away to avoid the inconvenience and pain of going through her lengthy recovery. But I would not have been really living a wholesome life. So, this is what I am beginning to realize in 2007. In staying I realize that my self somehow has become one with hers. She suffers, I suffer too. She becomes frustrated with the communication difficulties of an injured brain, I do too. She feels like a portion of her self has been severed, and that she needs to reconstruct those portions of her identity that have been lost. I empathize and in a strange way, I find missing parts in my own self; I too had to rebuild a new definition of what it means to be a husband, a companion, a support for Jan and a person for myself.

A few more days and 2007 will be over. In retrospect, I choose to see blessings amidst the challenges. It has not been an easy path. Some days we both scream for a way out, for space between us, for more clarity in our communications. The sunshine of many days was obscured with our tears of frustration with a system that cannot see her as a person, of impatience for not being able to speed up the recovery, of impotence for not being able to reduce her pain. However, even in those days we have seen rainbows through the tears. We still love each other. We still are together. Jan continues to make improvements, ever so small, everyday. We still hold each other in the good days and wait together for the bad days to end. We are taking the risk of increasing her quality of life by stopping her anticonvulsant medication.

2007 is a year of change. I have changed my optics and definitions about life and suffering. She has changed her understanding of commitment and fear of intimacy. We have lived in two years a life share of pain, and we can say with hope that we know there will be one day when she will be fully back.

2007 was a year that demanded an incredible amount of courage and strength. Jan and I didn’t have it all the time. In those dark times when we found ourselves with no strength, resources or vision, it was all of our dear friends and families that carried us to safe port. We thank God for all of you and we thank you.

2008 is a blank page. We want to fill every days of it with a celebration of hope, compassion and truth.


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