To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My mind feels like a tangled and knotted mass of stuff...emotions, memories, regrets, hope to's, wanna's and I'm gonna's...does this happen to you at this time of year? What is it about the end of a calendar page that causes this moment of reflection and contemplation? Regardless of it's cause here I am with several thoughts bubbling around in my head for the last few weeks. Maybe they'll all be dragged out into the bright light of conversation or maybe not...but there is one that I'll share...
Last January Rob was in the hospital for a few days. This came after several months of increasingly strange physical symptoms and his official diagnosis was given and retracted...he'd had mild wait, he hadn't. There's nothing wrong to shrugs and we don't know's. His ailments seemed to get worse. Exhaustion limited him to an almost debilitating level. Numbness in his hands and feet were a reality. But the worst thing was probably the muscle twitches. Have you ever had a muscle spasm? Imagine that happening literally all over your body all day long. His thigh, his calf, his arms, his back, his side. The scariest was when he began to feel it in his mouth. It was turning into a nightmare that only got worse as we researched his symptoms and talked with other people and doctors. ALS...Lou Gehrig's Disease...repeatedly came up. We spent months visiting neurologist...test, blood screens and lab work. Absolutely nothing. You would think that this would be a good thing but it added only more weight to the burden. You see with everyone we talked to this is the common process for those with ALS...them insisting something is seriously wrong with their body...and doctors and all their test saying there wasn't.
Trying to walk the balance between a self diagnosis of this sort and remaining hopeful that there is another explanation is like walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope of dental floss.
There is a moment etched forever in my brain. I was standing at the kitchen sink in this pool of sunlight and all of a sudden it hit me that I could quite possibly be watching my husband die. My world literally shifted and tilted on its axis. I don't know if you've ever experienced this trip into something akin to an alternate existence where everything looks the same but it isn't...the way your eyes see, the way things feel...nothing is normal. I blinked and the blur shifted back into focus and I was still standing at the sink, gripping the counter in a pool of sunlight. But in that moment I changed. My reality was different.
Over the next several months there would be moments of quiet acceptance, desperate avoidance, rational planning, and a ferocious clinging to some verses from Psalm 119..."You are good and You do is good that you have afflicted me..." Here is where I learned what we all say we is a gift from God. He didn't give me enough faith to coast through and ride out this situation in a smooth, even path...but He gave me enough faith that in those moments when it hurt so bad to even breath...I could. Enough faith to fix my eyes on the reality of He is good and does good instead of the looming mountain of wondering how in the world I would handle it when He took the one He had knitted my soul too. Faith to keep keep trusting. A sermon Rob preached during this time really hit is not believing that everything is going to be okay...but knowing that everything is okay. Living somewhere in the middle of the now and not yet that is the truth of a Christian's life. For a year that was our place...where we lived.
Then, about six weeks ago in the middle of a passing conversation with some friends we remembered a time when Rob had experienced some rare side affect to a medicine he was taking. You know the way they give side affects...the normal ones, the rare ones that happen occasionally and then the rare, rare ones that hardly ever happen to anyone? Without saying anything to Rob because it was such a long shot, I started doing a little research on a medicine he had been taking for two years to treat insomnia. Sure enough in that rare, rare section of side affects were just about every one of his symptoms. With as little expectation as possible he began to wean off the medicine...half doses to no doses. Little by little we have been seeing some changes. Most notably the overwhelming fatigue and brain cloudiness lifted. The muscle twitches still happen but they're different...not as constant, lessening. There are still some things to deal with but...
What? How do I explain a year that at times was the absolute darkest and yet the brightest?
God is a beautiful, glorious contradiction.
This past year changed me. I've seen God...come to know a different way. I have learned what the puritan meant when he said that in the valley is vision...I've seen glimpses of God unlike any before...I've seen a strength and courage in my husband that wasn't as easily seen as before...I value his love and my relationship with him more than ever.
That portion of Psalm 119 will stay taped to my bathroom mirror. The banner I hang over 2008?
"...for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me."


s g said...

I don't know what to say... I'm thilled that he is feeling better and I hope that it continues. and I'm glad that God has worked in your lives in all and through all. love ya.

WunderMom said...

Beautiful. I can't believe I didn't see this. I know we talked about it but... I never check your blog because you always (I thought) e-mail links when you post! I figured you hadn't posted in a while, then today I see your link and there are all these posts I've missed!
I love the way you express yourself in writing. He *is* good.