Hm-m-m. How to structure this series so that there is some connection between what happened way back in October, which normally feels like decades ago, and today? I feel the need to tell you readers how I responded to the earthquake that shattered my life, and somehow connect that with today. When I read over my notes and emails of what happened eight months ago, the feelings, which had long since faded into the background, rush back, and I have that to deal with too. But I hope this blog will be a means of comfort – for myself, as well as for you, the reader. I also want to share honestly how I’ve been dealing with what happened, hopefully to connect with some readers who may be experiencing, or may have experienced, something similar. Or maybe you simply wonder how one deals with something like what happened to me, and want to read my blog for this reason.
The day I heard the news that Michael had suffered a stroke, I was in the doctor’s office, trying to get help for a sinus infection, so as hopefully not to infect Michael. From the doctor’s office, in the waiting room, I made a routine call to the hospital, something I’d been doing every morning since his surgery on October 15. Now it was October 22. I had visited him the evening before, when Michael was finally starting to wake up! The doctor quickly removed his breathing tube, and Michael started talking non-stop to our son Chris, who had flown back home to be with his dad, and me. Most of it wasn’t making any sense, but we attributed that to his exhaustion and weakness from the high fever and constant rocket-level blood pressure. He did mention the word “stroke” to me, and “crazy situation”, but I assured him what the doctors had told me, that there had been no stroke.
So, when I phoned the hospital that morning, I was completely floored to hear the doctor now announce to me, over the phone, in the ENT doctor’s office, that my husband had had a stroke. I screamed, right in the waiting room, and started wailing so loudly, a nurse came in to see what was wrong. She put her arm around me and took me off to somewhere I could wait and cry with her to comfort me. I saw my doctor, who examined me while I sobbed. He sympathized with me and told me I could get something to calm my nerves in the pharmacy downstairs, and offered to call a cab for me. But I, ever the one needing to prove how strong I am, declined. I went to the pharmacy, got some lavender capsules which were supposed to steady my nerves, swallowed one, took the tram home, delivered the tragic news to Chris, and we fell into each other’s arms and wept.
The news was bad enough, but we had no idea of the implications. Thalmus – what is that, we wondered. We were told that Michael had been affected on both sides of the brain, in the thalmus region. He would have full use of all his senses, and his intellect was not impaired either. What was affected was his ability to organize all the sensory input that came his way. His ability to regulate sleep and awake time was also affected.
That day he was transferred to the university hospital, where he finally had a neurological exam, complete with MRI.
As I visit that horrible day from so many months past, the feeling of devastation, of having my world suddenly lurched upside-down, comes back, almost as if I had heard the news just yesterday. I have tears in my eyes today, as I write. This seems to be something you just can’t get used to. Yes, you can get into a routine of some sort each day, but even this morning, as I anticipated writing this, I noticed my queasy stomach, and a feeling of generalized fear, or perhaps vague anxiety. I live with these feelings every day. They are my constant companions, but they’re normally somewhere in the background. Other things, little gifts, also come my way.
I have decided to believe that these gifts are God’s way of showing me that all is not lost. My faith in a good God, or in any God at all, has been put through the wringer. More about that in other posts. Today, I simply want to say that I have also received many gifts since Michael’s stroke.
The latest gifts have to do with birds. On our terrace there is a lovely lavender bush, in full bloom right now. This spring a blackbird decided to build a nest in our bush. Since May, I have been privileged to observe blackbird eggs, which are much smaller than chicken eggs, a beautiful soft shade of green, and spotted.
I have seen one clutch hatch five birds, and watched their development all the way to their flight out of the nest. And now, the mama has layed her second clutch, and I get to watch four more birds develop. I see how the mama sits on her nest, day after day, warming the eggs, preparing them her unborn babies for birth, and then after the eggs hatch, she sits again, day after day, protecting her fragile, helpless young. I see both parents feed their young, taking turns. I have read that blackbirds are monogamous, and that they normally remain partners for life.
I am reminded of Jesus’s words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” These blackbirds, whose song I have always dearly loved, show me tender caring love, and they are cared for. They show me that I am being cared for too.
On Sunday a guest choir sang in our church. One of the songs they sang was the old gospel song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. They sang this song just for me. Today is Wednesday, and I’m still singing their song. Today I watched a video of the Statler Brothers singing it, and I let the words massage my heart. I feel peace as I sing this song and watch my birds, day after day. I feel my anxiety being steadied, and I smile and marvel at the hope that flutters in my heart. Yes. God’s eye is on the blackbird, “and I know He watches me.”