31 July, 2010 11 p.m.
Dear friends and family,
Today was a good day. Steve and I went on our first date. We had been trying for weeks to rendezvous in the cafeteria for a short meal to no avail, but now a much more spectacular opportunity arose and we snatched it. Steve got his first “day pass” which permits him to leave the hospital. Just three blocks away is the Frye Museum, a small, free art museum in a lovely modern building, housing an eclectic collection. This was a good “beginner” outing, not too far from the hospital should some medical emergency arise, but sufficiently removed to give us a taste of both normalcy and inspiration.
The sun shone for us, and we strolled and rolled together over the fairly accommodating sidewalks to the museum. A whole world of details opened up. I noticed curbs: their height, their distance, the degree of disrepair. There were funny little anomalies. A door inside the museum opened with a wheelchair accessible button but the adjoining door to the outside did not. Tables were too high or too low. Hallways were wide or narrow; doorways also. A seemingly insignificant crack in the sidewalk became a disturbingly daunting hindrance to the wheelchair.
Nevertheless, we laughed and we strolled and we enjoyed the intimate conversations we have so often shared over our Monday lunchtime dates in Manila. We audaciously edited the masterpiece paintings, dismissed the same ones and paused to reflect on the same ones. Steve reinforced his reputation as a coffee lover by not only enjoying his first cup of coffee since the accident, but also his second and third (decaf!)… all in one sitting. It was a landmark moment, one we will not quickly forget.
Tomorrow we will venture even further. We – thanks to our recreational therapists – have become acquainted with the mechanics of our wheelchair accessible van, and I will be taking Steve out for a drive! First things first, a visit to our new home! We will be moving in this week, if all goes according to plan, and Steve will enjoy visualizing his ultimate destination. I cannot wait to see Steve’s face as he wheels his way around our beautiful, wheelchair accessible home. We are still pinching ourselves!
These are the joys of our “new normal”, the amazing provisions, the love that remains. We are thankful for so much. There is, however, much that still merits your prayers. We have not yet set up the many details of home life that will ensue. While the beauty of our surroundings will be a balm, the adjustment to daily life with paralysis will be significant. We have to find and train caregivers, work with our social workers to set up whatever state assistance we qualify for, work with our occupational and physical therapists on the myriad equipment needs, arrange for any childcare support and continue to develop skills for daily living as much as possible. I am currently supervising the packing up of our house in Manila, which is not only extremely demanding in its details but also very emotional as we watch a life we loved move into boxes. Next week, I will meet with the realtor to put our Seattle house on the market. I am also managing the details of moving into our new rental home. Schools have been closed so I have not yet secured a place for our children for this coming year. God continues to move before us in these and many other details, and we covet your prayers as we take each step.
Spiritually, my heart is working out a keen sense of perspective. While our situation is deeply challenging, I am aware that there are many, many that are worse. While it is fruitless to compare, I am grateful for the sense that while we suffer, we are also blessed. The evidence lies all around, both in the very corridors of this hospital and in our fresh memories of Manila, and beyond. We eat well, we are warm, and Steve’s spirit and mental abilities remain intact. On our floor there are people with head injuries who are unrecognizable to their loved ones, people with burn injuries, people who struggle to breathe on their own. While we are surrounded by love and prayers, other patients are noticeably alone. A comment on a post mentioned a niece dying of cancer and asked for prayers. Many others have generously shared their losses in commiseration with our own. My life lesson in Ephesians 4 continues, layer by layer, as I find peace in the thanksgiving, despite the evident suffering. What I am most thankful for is the continued sense of God’s steadfast love in the midst of this crisis. I feel this as a mercy, an unearned grace from above, and pray that it never leaves me. In that spirit, I leave you with a verse from Isaiah, 54:10: “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed.” I cling to that promise.
May God’s love and peace be with us all.