Some people cross the bridge from care-free to care-full slowly, one responsible vitamin at a time. Others get pushed off the bridge and inherit a pillbox and a bunch of ‘ologists overnight.
Our first week home has been a crash course in all things care-full – if you’ve ever seen a life vest, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, just think gun holster meets inspector gadget. It’s like wearing a bomb that will SAVE your life instead of end it, and it requires some quick-change action between showers.
Turns out a broken heart takes a long time to heal. There has GOT to be some amazing spiritual and emotional parallels as a physically attacked heart has to go through such intense recovery and rehab. So much I never would have known before, but it really is TIME that is needed most. Time, sleep, and quiet.
Oh the Quiet. No heart monitors. Birds instead of balloon pumps. Heck, even the occasional jet planes overhead have a soothing new rhythm because they remind me we are NOT IN A HOSPITAL.
I’ve never enjoyed silence like this. We sit. We read. We rest. We savor. It’s some sacred quiet. Slowly, bit by bit, we talk through all that has just been, and turn our attention to all that will be. (Because there is a will be!!!)
And slowly, the pace of “normal life” is creeping back in, too. Which is beautiful and also not at the same time. I don’t miss the hospital at all, but I do miss some of the single-focus-clarity that two weeks in a hospital forces, and I’d like to adopt some new filters as we readjust into our new normal.
One thing that’s ever-more-evident is just how different our two experiences are, and therefore our healing journeys will be. We knew that within the first 24 hours of him leaving ICU, of course – his journey involves sleeping through some of the most vibrant, haunting, and sacred hours of my life. His journey involves disorientation and shock on a whole different level. His journey involves wearing a life-vest. His journey went from a basketball court to a hospital bed in a blink of an eye. His journey involves the emotions inherent in heart-attack recovery … everything from “glad to be alive” to “damn this hurts” to “I’m not worth all this attention” to “when can I get back to work/school?”
We’ve decided that miracles are allowed to be grumpy.
And me, well, I’m still experiencing a layer of grace that I can’t take any credit for. I’m still being held up by a Mighty Right Hand (Psalm 63:8). That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of Deep Feels going on.
The tears – they come at surprising times. As I open a can of chicken. As we play cards. As he chokes on a cough and I feel the pain on his face.
The sighs come when the flashbacks zap me. When images flash in my mind of monitors, wide-open but un-seeing eyes, and the wail that defied words. Some say I was strong. I wasn’t strong. I was simply a girl in love with the guy on the ventilator. Some say I’m strong now. And still, I tell you, it’s love making me breathe “thank you” even as I echo “ouch” as I watch my man – my active, vibrant, strong, athletic, bold MAN – learn how to re-enter life one five-minute-walk at a time.
Hold out for that kind of love, ladies. It’s worth every high and low.
The chills come when I remember that I should be a widow, and I look up to receive comfort from the very man who has instead kept me a bride.
The smiles come when he reaches for my hand.
The goosebumps when each kiss becomes just a little bit longer.
The laughter when the right pun hits at the right moment, or when Mrs Chanandeler Bong is so much funnier than before. Or when I win at the card game.
Because miracles laugh, and cry, and shudder, and go silent, and get grumpy, and dream of the future. Because miracles get a future – we just enter it slowly.