From Michelle. 20 August, 2010. Midnight.
Dear friends and family,
The other night, I read a quote by William Barclay that seems to sum up one aspect of this experience for me: “It will always help us if we regard this world as organized not for our comfort but for our training.” I have felt “trained” during this time, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Like an athlete who undergoes a season of training, I suppose I will not recognize myself on the other end.
So far, the training has had several unique positive outcomes: a great sense of compassion, a deeper gratitude and a humbling perception of my own limits. The compassion is gifted to us by the people down the hall and the many stories shared in emails, cards and conversations by all of you, that remind us that we are not only not alone in our suffering but even fortunate.
The gratitude has been the lightest training to bear, flowing easily from the goodness all around us, from the woman who hardly knows me who took the time to write a card and pass on home baked cookies, to another woman down the hall with a spinal cord injury who prays for Steve, to the concerts and many offers of time and talents, to the thoughtful cards and gifts, and to the astounding generosity witnessed in the special needs trust.
Dark things can elicit a response of almost blinding light, and it has been our privilege to receive that light in myriad beautiful forms. The humbling, well, that speaks for itself, but in the best possible sense, the knowledge that I need all of you and that I need God to get through. I hope it remains after the darkness lifts.
There is much to be grateful for, and I am happy to report on it! The biggest news is that Steve has been reclassified as an Asia D. This means that there are significant nerves and muscles below his level of injury which are able to now move against gravity. In other words, the leg bends, the Pele kicks, the strengthening of the torso, the foot bends and lifts and yes, quite significantly, Steve’s ability to pee, have placed him in a new category of injury where the possibility of mobility has again increased.
To say that this is good news is an understatement! I think that both Steve and I are still absorbing the possible consequences, daring to hope further while also fearing the possible disappointments (so close and yet so far!). The relationship between prayer and real world events are mysterious and yet, in the simplest of terms, and with a good pinch of audacity, I’ll say that your prayers are working! Steve’s body is healing, gradually and at a creeping pace for Steve, and yet at a remarkable pace given his injury and prognosis. We will never understand why some have these better outcomes while others do not, but we give thanks, deep thanks, that we are at present receiving this amazing blessing, knowing full well that we do not deserve it in the least.
In all meaningful terms, Steve is still paralyzed. I still need to transfer him from the bed to his chair with a contraption called a hoyer lift, and once he is in his chair, he cannot move from it without assistance. There is much he cannot do, but there is promise of more, much more, ahead.
Today, for example, Steve stood in water. He also tried a “walking machine,” something which lifts and suspends him so that his feet can try to simulate the movements of walking. Spasms kept him from feeling any ease of movement, however just seeing him upright and moving was a huge encouragement!
The other day, his physical therapist had him in the standing machine, and wheeled him down the hall toward our room. I happened to exit the room at that time and saw him wheeling toward me, standing upright. It was a vision to behold! I had forgotten the distinct quality a person exudes while standing, something to do with strength, virility, and authority. It was the old Steve grinning down at me, a posture already almost forgotten, where he is big and I am small, and the world felt right again for a moment.
Please continue to pray for the right school for the children. I cannot seem to find the peace of knowing the best place for them or to close in on the details necessary to place them. I notice that of all the details and adjustments, this is my most vulnerable hope: to see the boys thriving in a learning environment that is just right for them. Today was discouraging in that regard and I am required to trust God with my most precious desires, for the children themselves. I know this too will come.
Praising for the D!