Friday, January 27, 2012

Late Winter

It's been a long time since I posted. A really long time. Mostly, I wasn't posting for a happy reason...I'm pregnant! YAY! (I am truly delighted about this, please don't let the rest of this post fool you into thinking otherwise.) However, I didn't want to spill the beans publicly, and so I kept myself from writing. Additionally, with pregnancy came a lot of sickness. Like, a lot. Apparently, being pregnant at 29 is a great deal different than being pregnant at 24. So, for most of November, I spent my time with my head over the toilet, or laying as still as possible so I didn't have to put my head over the toilet, or gathering just enough gusto to muddle through the hours of my day dedicated to work. By the time I started to feel better, the busy season was upon us--holidays, recitals, plays, check-outs, visits with family far away, check-ins, and suddenly it was January and it felt silly to post anything from out of the blue because it had been too long, like calling a friend after too much time has passed. But here I am now, a bit in need of the friend, writing, which is a way for me to process and organize my thoughts and emotions.

Winter has been incredibly mild this year. Last year about this time, I wrote this post, which basically caused my sister to call wondering if I was planning on driving my family off a cliff. Winter last year was hard and long and endless. Last year by this time, it had literally been months since I had seen the sun, our courtyard was nearly thigh-deep in snow, the old parked cars in the yards of neighbors were buried, and it felt like January would never end unless we could find a way to tunnel our way out of the white wasteland. This year, by contrast, we've had blue skies and relatively warm weather (nary a sub-zero day!) and remarkably little snow, with the weather always warming up again after our little sprinklings to melt it away. For this Arizona native, the sunshine was the biggest blessing of all. At times, I could feel myself almost hesitating to really give myself over to this sun and warmth, for fear that if I did, it would pass away all too quickly. Likewise, things were happy and peaceful, life was quiet and good, and there were no signs of storms on the horizon.

And then, as sometimes happens in life and weather, things changed. Like an ancient scroll, the clouds rolled in across the sky, bringing only rains at first. But then the heavens made judgement, and like a portent, winter began in earnest.

And my father had a stroke.

Funny...thinking now, I realize the last time I spoke to him before this was to call and describe the tremendous winds and incoming storm...

Like the weather, we had only rain at first, a little warning--a night in the hospital after a TIA, from which he seemed to quickly recover. And then the storm hit. He had a "real" stroke, either when he was readmitted two nights later, which was misread as another TIA, or sometime during his stay in the hospital.

Unlike with the TIA, the damage from the stroke remains and there is a lot of work, a lot of digging out, to do. I should say here that the good news is that he's okay. The bad news is that he's "just" okay. We are incredibly grateful that he seems to have retained his gross and fine motor skills. Largely, he has only been affected in his language centers. He cannot write, excepting his name; he has great difficulty speaking because he cannot bring out the words that were so easily attainable to a very learned man; and he cannot process what he is still able to read. These are small things in the grand scheme of things, and yet these are the things that cause a sudden brittleness to my heart, that bring it just to the edge of shattering.

My own love of language, of teaching, of study, of rhetorical thought and discussion: these are gifts bestowed upon me by my father. They are at the very essence of who he is. And these are the things that have been snatched from him. At least for a time.

Of course, the brain is a remarkable organ, and I have a very stubborn father. There are mighty obstacles ahead of him, and all of us who love him. But given these two facts, I know that there is hope, and a very great deal of it, at that.

I checked the forecast, and there is indeed sun in the lineup ahead. And, in God's great mercy, no matter how many gray days we endure, Winter always turns to Spring. Always.


P.S. We truly appreciate the thoughts and prayers Dad is receiving at this time. So far, I haven't been able to see him, but have heard that his spirits are improving and he's ready to work. He should be released from the hospital in the next day or two and into a rehabilitation center to make possible the many daily hours of intense speech therapy he will be getting for the next couple of weeks. This time is critical, and we are grateful for the care he is now receiving. And of course, DAD, when you can read this again, I'm sorry for airing this in public and I LOVE YOU! :)