This is the beginning of an unusual week. Exciting, but still unusual. As Ivan wrote to you all last week, we are beyond grateful that God has provided a way for us to join our families – and new extended church family – up north…especially since our recent “hospital adventure” confirmed that life will probably be safer and easier if I can be physically with or at least close to a family member while Ivan is away at work. Praise God for providing for us step by step!
On the other hand, these two transition weeks (or “packing weeks” if you happen to be Ivan!) have also become processing and grieving weeks for me. I think for the first time since the accident, I have been able to think through what happened and open my eyes more not only to God’s provision but also to what was lost. Let’s start with the good things: I have both my legs (yes, even that was at risk once), I can walk, I can move my left arm and hand, I can swallow, talk, eat, think, etc. My balance is getting better, and I can even go for short walks outside! My brain can tolerate listening to music again. I can take care of most personal care. It’s not hard to remember a time when I did none of those things. However, I’m still haunted by some things too. Obviously, we don’t really know why this happened at all. I don’t have feeling in my left hand, and as time passes it becomes less likely that I will. This has separated me from a lot that I love – most importantly violin (including 17 years of study and 2 years living in New York at a conservatory), but also cooking, or even many chores and normal “wife things” I used to be proud of. Church, school, and most social activities are off the table for now, and since the average traumatic brain injury (TBI) recovery time is 1-2 years, we’re barely a quarter of the way through that. Dealing with TBI is a complicated daily struggle that Ivan and I – and my mom when she was here – have gotten better at but are still trying to figure out. Pertinent example: I think this last week has taught us that moving definitely falls into the category of “what not to do with TBI,” but nevertheless, this is where God is taking us! And I know it will be fantastic when we finally arrive.
So, circling back, my first reaction to the sudden, recent introduction to grief was to try to “fix myself” back to my normal outlook. After all, these moments before Ivan and I dive into our new life should be filled with celebration and anticipation, not sadness, right? But I don’t think anyone can “schedule in” grief to a convenient day or two somewhere, and I’m definitely learning that I can’t just arbitrarily “fix myself.” God knew what He was doing by shielding my mind and heart from sadness before, and He knows what He’s doing by opening up my ability to think and feel more deeply now. Grief is part of life…it says that in the Bible more places than I can count!…and God designed humans with this potential for a reason. I know we’re not even remotely close to the final paragraph of our story, and my prayer is that He will use this new emotional component to dig deeper into my heart (and Ivan’s too), and keep equipping us for the plan that’s being unveiled inch by inch. Besides, who says that grieving and celebrating are mutually exclusive? Even as my heart mourns for all the parts of my old self that seem gone, and the perennial “why?” of the accident that I wonder if anyone will ever know for sure….just typing the list of “good things” in the last paragraph reminded me of how much I’ve been given back that we had no guarantees for at the beginning of this year. God is good…and I know once we get to San Jose I’ll have more things than I can count to keep adding to my “good things” list. So stay tuned! 🙂