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.
I was not okay. After my first weekend at home alone with Bill I was shaken. I have to tell you that my burden grew heavy at this point. I think the physical exhaustion was taking its toll on my body, but it also wreaked havoc on my emotional state. You know how when you are tired you just can’t handle things as well? That was me. Only, I had to be strong. Or so I thought. So I put on my mask each morning, and I cried silently each night. Silent tears.
I am good at silent tears. They are the ones no one sees. They are the ones no one hears. For me they almost always happen at night. I don’t know if this is because of the season after the accident, because that was when I was finally alone enough to fall apart, or if they come at night because it is dark and they are more effectively hidden. Whatever the reason they became my pattern of coping.
Being a caregiver was like walking a tightrope. There were the tears that I could not cry for myself, for my husband, for our lives and our huge loss. Somehow I guess I felt that if I let them be known that it would mean that I had given up, or somehow accepted that things were forever changed. I couldn’t admit that, not out loud, not yet. My heart already knew it though, and so the tears tried to communicate with my brain so that I would be in agreement with myself. The really crazy thing is that my brain couldn’t grasp the reality, and so it continued to hope and believe apart from the factual evidence. This sparked hope within my heart, so the two, my mind and heart became inseparable in their vacillating between loss and life. The truth was probably somewhere in between the two.
I can only describe the feeling as a weight that rode on my shoulders and across my chest. It was a tightness that woke me in the night and whispered unintelligible words in my ears so that no sleep was sound, and no waking was clear. It was a fog that was escorted by muscles tight and sore each morning. I could hardly move, yet I put one foot in front of the other because I had to. What good would it have done me to fall completely apart? The only option to release some of the stress of my days was silent tears at night. God alone held me up. No words were needed between us. He completely understood and he never once left me during this time. He is the only reason I survived. The depth of my bond with him cannot be understated, and it remains to this day. He is as real to me, more real even, than the air I breathe.
During the day, once I was up and had worked the soreness out of my body, I focused on hoping. That was all. Hoping and looking for the positive. Listening to negative would only confirm what my heart knew to be true…things were forever changed. I could not bear to think it. My fragile self was so close to shattering that I would not entertain, nor accept negative comments or thoughts. I had to be strong. I had to be the hope for Bill, and for those who loved him. I thought that is what I was doing, but looking back I see that is not really the case. I was grasping to be hope for myself. To believe. To have faith. To trust. To walk out all the things I had ever learned in theory, now that they were required of me. I found that it is easy to believe that God heals, until he doesn’t. It is simple to have faith that life is good, when it is. It is much more difficult when nothing is as it should be…when there are no answers. I think that it is these times, the ones where you are tempted to walk away or shake your fist at heaven, that really define what you believe. Out of control moments, when the illusion of control is crushed beneath the weight of life, and you realize that nothing is as you thought it was.
But there is good news here, because as I came to the end of life as I knew it God was there to carry me. I picture it like a father carrying a wounded child. Her arms draped around his neck, head on his chest. Tears still fresh on her cheeks. He is speaking to her in low tones…soothing her with his voice as only a father can do. He wipes her tears away with his thumb and draws her into a tight hug and kisses the top of her head. His heart and hers are joined in the pain for a moment.
But then, also as only a father can do, he breaks out into a smile and tickles her so that her pain is temporarily forgotten. Her giggles cannot be stopped. She laughs and it is a balm to his heart, as his laughter is to hers. They are joined in laughter just as they were in the pain just moments before. And though the wound will take a long time to heal, she is breathless with joy which sows the seed of hope in her small broken heart. Simple laughter. When her lungs have given out, and her side is sore from giggling without reservation, she sighs, a good contented sigh of one who is at rest in her father’s arms. He sits and rocks her then, until she is sleeping. He studies her face. He watches her eyes move behind her eyelids, dreaming dreams. He strokes her hair and pushes it back out of her face as he rocks her. He knows she is still wounded, and he is grateful for a moment of peace on her face as she rests in his arms. He prays for her and then, while she is sleeping, he cries for her as a father who must watch his child suffer, and they are silent tears.