Tag Archives: stroke

January Evening

The cold seeps in around the edges of the old farmhouse.  I take a cup from the corner roundabout and wonder at how cold it is.  Why is that cupboard so cold?  I almost want to pour boiling water into it and let it sit for a bit until it is thoroughly warmed before making a cup of mint tea.  The day has been long.  Tonight I finally finished the delinquent paperwork that I need to file with the state.  I feel cross.  I should be grateful.  I have a wonderfully understanding case manager, and I’ve had the best nurses in the system.  My case has just been reassigned, something I always dread, but the replacement is optimistic and warm and she makes me think that just maybe, losing the best nurse I’ve ever had won’t be the end of my tenure.

The cold has been seeping around the edges of my soul these last few months.  Sometimes it seems like grief deferred is grief escaped, but it just isn’t so.  It niggles at the edge of my conscious thought, lends cloud cover to my sunniest days.  I’ve fought with all my might, I think.  I refuse to answer any question of “How are you?” with anything but an enthusiastic, “I’m GOOD!”  Or even, “I’m GREAT!!!” and if the truth be told, that does make me feel better.  But the tears are so close, and the smallest things set me off.

Today, Youngest Daughter stood in our kitchen, ready to go see Joe, the employer that has suffered a stroke.  She is blinking back the tears.  “I know that he knows me, Mama, but he doesn’t remember my name sometimes.  I feel like my sense of loss is far deeper than I realized at first.  At first, I knew he was in there, and I thought that he would probably get better, but now it’s like he knows that he knows me, but he doesn’t know how or why.  And–” her voice caught and I had to strain to hear her, “I’m afraid it’s just too late.”

“It reminds me of  a story I read recently,” I told her, “about this girl who would visit her grandma and her grandma never spoke her name, but would engage in conversation with her.  She wanted her grandma to remember her name so desperately, so as she was leaving, she said, ‘Grandma, you don’t know my name, do you?’  Her grandma looked at her intently and then said, ‘I don’t know your name, but I know that you are someone I love.’  And Rachel, I believe that is how it is with Joe.  He may not remember your name, but he does know that you are someone that he loves.”

Tonight I am so glad that when Jesus looks at me, He knows my name.  He knows my heart.  He knows that I am someone He loves.  This soul sadness is something that He has already carried, so he understands it.  And while there are numerous things that are honest grief, there are still One Thousand Gifts to count, and people around me who need to be encouraged and loved on and who “borrow” joy from me.  This I purpose to rejoice in and I also purpose to not let them down.

And so, let the evening begin.  I have “promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”  I think I’d best get busy.

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The Stroke

He sits in a wheel chair, a stocking cap on his thin white hair.  His hands, once so busy and given to expansive motion, will not do his bidding.  His eyes are alive and expressive and he tries so hard to communicate.  I am sitting beside him in the hospital room, and trying so hard to understand.

“I think–” he starts to say, then stops, confused.  He tries to form more words.  “I think–”

I wait.  He shakes his head despairingly and then tries again, “I would say — .”  He looks at me helplessly and lapses into silence.  The sequence is repeated over and over.

I smile and tell him stories about Rachel, our youngest daughter, who is my connection to this man. Stories about papers and professors and accolades and anxieties.  He listens eagerly and smiles and tries to talk again.  “I think –” he begins, and then with conviction, “I think that I think!”

That makes me laugh.  “Oh, J–!  I know you think.  That mind of yours never stops.  I know that you think about a LOT of things.”

He smiles again, and I make conversation.  He says an occasional “yes” and “no.”  And then I take his face into my hands and look into his faded eyes and I talk to him about the gifts that have been given him through no effort of his own — his good mind, and how he has used it to help his fellow man.  I tell him that it truly was a gift, entrusted to him by God and that he has helped so many people with his brilliant mind.  I am just warming up to saying some specific God words to this man who has spurned so many of God’s instructions, and hasn’t trusted Jesus for his salvation.  He has sometimes said things that indicate that his hope is that the good he’s done will outweigh the bad.  And he has done so much good.  Our family, especially Rachel, have been blessed abundantly by his kindness. So I wanted to tell him about the best gift that can be his — just for the taking.  I remind him that he is very loved, and that he doesn’t need words to talk to Jesus.  When no one else can understand what he is trying to say, Jesus knows his heart and he can talk to Him.

And then we are interrupted by a  speech therapist.  It is time for him to have his lunch, and time for me to leave.  His eyes look at me pleadingly, and I stoop to kiss his leathery old cheek.  It is wet with tears.  I taste the salt as I turn to go.

The days are long, the future is so uncertain, the conflict around him intense.  I cannot bear to look back as I leave.  So much of his business unfinished.  So much important still undone. Though he is in his eighties, he always thought that he had more time.  How little any of us know what will be tomorrow.  How quickly life can change.

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  May your love invade his conscious thought, his complex heart.  And may the presence of Jesus be so real to him that he cannot escape it.  May his restless heart find peace.  Please, Lord Jesus.  Have mercy on us all.  In a world gone so wrong, how desperately we need the Savior that the angels announced that Holy night.   Peace on earth, goodwill towards men?  Lord Jesus, may it be so.”

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