Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday November 7 – New Beginnings

When we get to your room this morning, you tell me of another nightmare you had. You were scared and felt alone. It’s so real to you and yet I know you are struggling with the fact that it’s not real. It’s as if the right brain is working overtime with emotion and the left is sitting back refusing to counter the emotion with logic.

This fuels my desire to be with you as much as possible. I hate the thought of you being frightened. Fear will drain energy away from the things that you need to focus on.

Last week, I got a special ballet for you to vote. You filled it out today and I will take it to the election office on Monday. You knew right away whom you wanted to vote for. And I hope he wins too.

Politics was never been a huge interest to you but I think that is because the politics seem so superficial and don’t really reflect the person. Political positions seem to change like dirty underwear does ... Once an idea is a little tainted it is cast aside to be used again later. The person is of more interest to you – the feeling you get from a person is more intimate and certainly seems more tangible ... more like a favorite stuffed toy – real and something you can hold on to.

Go Mark Austin!

We play a game of trivia. You have been concerned that you have lost some memory. I don’t see it. It may take you a little longer to access the achieved files in your hard drive – but they are there. We don’t really play – I just read you questions and you answer. I started with ‘sports and leisure’ so your confidence would soar. It worked. You did very well - your brain does work.

You asked about Annie. “Do you think she will still like me?” you ask. “Of course she will. She will just need to get s sniff of you and she’ll know her dad.” I hope I’m right. Annie isn’t always the brightest dog. Perhaps that’s not fair – she’s bright but cautious and forgetful. She thinks with her nose – it the smell is foreign to her she is on guard.

Once, when I came home in the evening after a swim at the pool. Annie puts on her alarm bark as I walk in the door. Thinking that she can only smell the chlorine on me, I talk to her – she still barks. I put out my hand and reach slowly to her – the barking gets very defensive. More words from me and finally she gets close enough to me to really smell my skin then she wiggles her butt with her head down – in an apologetic way and happy to see me - as if she saying ”Oh, it you – oh man I’m so embarrassed.”

Tomorrow we’ll see what Annie thinks of you and your smells.

Emma (fellow runner and vet) and Dave (her partner) came to visit. Emma ran in the Cabot Trail relay for the Tidal Boars. They had a good visit and you gave her a hard time for not running. She had hurt her back a few months ago and hasn’t run since. You suggested that she be traded in for a new model with extra options! Ouch. Your motivation tactics have changed … You would have been far less polite.

After their visit with you, they took a swing by the house with work gloves in hand – “What can we do?” asked Emma. Dave joins it “Put me to work – I can get a lot done in 2 hours.” He was right – in less then 2 hours Emma and I got the back yard cleaned up to withstand the winter weather and Dave got up on the roof, cleaned the gutters and fixed the leak that you and I were working on, in an amateur way, this past summer. About a week before your stroke, we thought that we finally got it fixed. September’s weather didn’t challenge it – but October’s weather did and we failed … It leaked worse.
Hopefully, we will have a dry winter.

Now I just have to get the pellet stove fixed. A stove guy is coming this week. Then we will be set of winter.

While we were working at home, Juanita, Wayne, Maddie and Farley visited you. They brought with them your favorite Chinese dish: Chicken almond Soo Guy. Chinese food has always been the food of celebrations for us ever since we ordered in Chinese food the day we broke the news of Tara’s conception to Juanita. Chinese food has marked all major new beginnings in our lives. New children, new homes, New years. In a small but very significant way Wayne and Juanita are marking your … no our new beginnings.

As some wise person once said … This is the beginning of the rest of your life.

When I get back with children in tow – fresh from a pool birthday party. You were trying, once again, to coax Maddie to your bed. Juanita and I talk about Dad’s health. The jaundice is significant and he is a little more altered mentally now. You ask if I’ve gone to see Dad yet. You feel I should go and see him. “This maybe one of your last visits with him. I don’t want you to have regrets.

I can’t picture you saying this before the stroke. I think the near-death experience has changed your outlook on life.

Your ability to void urine is getting much better. I don’t think you have seen a catheter in a few days! I think you are almost house trained! Another mile stone passed.

Tonight’s movie with the children was ‘Inkheart’. A fantasy tale about a book lover who has the ability to read characters right out of the book and into real life. The movie illustrates the fine line between reality and imagination. This seems like a very appropriate movie to watch at this time in your recovery.

I ‘d like to take the credit of being a super Mum and picking the movie out especially to show Tara and Quinn what some of your moments might be like. However I can’t take the credit – it was just a happy coincidence – I picked it off the shelf at the video store because I thought the cover looked rather good!

Like many things in your stroke story – was this by chance or by design?

We watched the movie all cuddled together with you and Quinn on the bed and Tara and I wrapped up together on a chair. It was cramped by cozy. It felt good to do a ‘normal’ family thing … even though it involved the TV – one of the machines in this world that I love to hate and hate to love.

You and I missed the last bits of the movie … we fell asleep. The children didn’t. I can’t wait until we can restart another family tradition where we pile onto the family bed (our bed) and read stories. The four of us, Annie and one possibly both cats …That’s when I will feel that you are finally home.


  1. it's nice to see little "family" moments spent together. these stolen moments are very important and one of the benefits to chris being in truro!!
    and i agree with chris, gwen ... go see your dad. that is important as well.

  2. Gwen, I've been thinking about Chris saying that he "owes so many people" and that "he doesn't want to be a burden."

    Please tell him that, really, we're ALL running a "marathon of hope" in this life. We ALL owe each other, and our very existence burdens someone, at some point. He is no different from any of us, in that respect.

    All any of us can do in our own marathons is to extend a hand when we're able to those who need it; to do our best to contribute in whatever way we are able; and to learn to accept the gift of help when we need to.

    Being in a position of receiving help can feel very vulnerable and overwhelming - but it also contains its own valuable lessons. When I was profoundly depressed years ago, and had to let others help me, it changed how I saw myself, because I had always seen myself as the "strong" one - the helper. The experience made me question my own need to see myself in this way, and opened me up to greater humility. It changed the way I give help; it changed the way I see those who need help; and it changed how I receive help. Those were my lessons - no doubt Chris will have his own. It's a gift - an important time. Tell Chris not to feel "owing", but to feel "learning."

    Love, Kate