This blog is a continuation in a series I am writing about my husband’s brain injury. If you wish to read the story in order, go back in my archives and find Begin at the Beginning…all the ones in the category brain injury tell my story. Some are longer than others…they come in chunks of time…sometimes quickly and others much slower. Thanks for taking the time to read and being patient as I walk through the one of the toughest parts of my life again with new eyes to see how God used the broken pieces to create something beautiful.
Visitors came and went. For them Bill tried to turn on his personality…at least it seemed that way. He had no idea who anyone was, but you would never know that. He smiled through his taped up, bruised face and tried to carry on a conversation. And if the visitor didn’t pass out (several did) Bill would attempt to joke with them in a still very childlike way. However, if the TV came on the numbers caught his eye and he starting counting backwards from 60 again. There were no more restraints needed and for that I was thankful. However, when it was just us, he turned on me. They said it could be because the numbers of people overstimulated him and he would hold it all in until they left, or that he was tired, or in pain. I can’t tell you which was true; I can only say that my heart was unprepared for the lashing it took each day. It wasn’t just me; he treated Louise the same way. She was better able to take it than I was. Maybe it was because she was a mom, but it seemed to me she could just let it roll off. I was attempting to do the same but my heart took the full impact. My mind tried to fight off the rejection that was seeping into me by saying it was the injury speaking. And in reality it was, but that only made it more difficult to handle the hurt. I did not record but a few of his hurtful words to me in my journal because I was trying to focus entirely on the positive, but they are seared into my memory.
It was at this time that the days started running together. It was a blur really. Days turned into nights that turned into days again. On the nights I wasn’t at the hospital I stayed at my brother’s house. He and his wife had recently finished out their basement so I had my own space there. It was just a few minutes from the hospital and I could come and go as I needed to. It also allowed me to avoid staying at our house alone. During the days, I tried to make cohesive conversation with folks that came by. The room was flooded with flowers to the point it smelled like a florist shop. All of the effort people went to in order to express their love and concern takes up pages and pages in my journal. It was such an encouragement to me for our friends and family to stand by us in the darkest of times. When I look back in my journal, I see that these people held me up with their encouragement and concern, but I also see myself pulling back trying to protect my heart. It was a double edged sword having so many people coming through. There were so many things in play beyond the obvious. Not every person who came to visit or called was encouraging, though I do believe they all were trying to be.
Can I interrupt my story here a moment? Can I ask that when someone near to you is in a crisis that you think before you speak? Just stop trying to fix it. Stop with clichés. Stop with ‘you just have to do such and such’ statements. I understand that people want to help, and they don’t really know what to say. I get that. However, when my spouse was unable to walk out of the hospital completely healed I didn’t need to hear I lacked faith, or that my prayers were not being answered because of some unknown sin. I also did not need people to say that I needed to come out of denial and accept that Bill would no longer be able to function. I didn’t want others to come into the room to pray because I had so many extremes on all ends of the spectrum I never knew what to allow or not. Even as I write this I am having angry tears that tell me that there is hurt buried here. I was judged by many…though they do not know that is what they were doing. I was pitied by many as if I just didn’t get it, as if I couldn’t see the facts through my Pollyanna eyes. I was misunderstood, and in my hardest time I had to be a gatekeeper…to sort out who might agitate, who would be an encouragement, or who would crush me with their un-thought-out words. It was like boxing the air. I could not predict who was who, so I ceased to share my honest feelings with anyone. I looked out from scared eyes and saw my world collapsing, but I could not speak it. I am aware that my battered heart may have heard things that were not intended, but I can see, at this moment, that I took all of the words into myself. Every bit of it. I have carried all of this in my heart for over 20 years without a word…except.
Except for one night, after a particularly difficult day when I was feeling utterly alone. I climbed into the bed too tired to think. Too tired to utter a prayer. The day had brought with it cruel words from my beloved. It had brought with it harsh judgments from friends. It had been a baffling day inside my own head, wrestling and trying to cope. I was too tired to be angry at God anymore for the whole situation. Exhaustion is an understatement. It was all piling up on me. I was in the fetal position. I could only cry. I could only say, “Help” in a whispered voice, tasting the salt from the tears rolling down my face. In the deep dark. Shattered like an eggshell. All alone. At the bottom. Whimpering like a baby. I cannot tell you how this place feels, you have to go there to understand it.
Then GOD came. I was alone so very alone, and then I was not. I felt someone in the room, only when I looked there was no one visible. I stayed still as if moving would scare this feeling away. Slowly, from my feet up I felt warmth and such beautiful peace. It crept up until I was completely covered by it. I could see the electric blanket control. It was not on, no light. The warmth continued to increase until I was toasty. At first my tears increased, releasing the flood of emotion, but then like a child in her father’s arms I succumbed to the comfort and rested. My ragged breathing evened out until I could take in deep breaths slowly. It was my first rest in the days since the accident. It was absolutely a supernatural experience. I don’t know how long I lay there in the peaceful warmth of The Comforter before drifting off to a deep sleep. I only know that I was no longer alone. He rescued me.