Four years ago today I had a stroke. (That statement is still a shock to me.) I wrote about it here. Facing my mortality at age 48 taught me a lot.
Here is what I learned:
*Our time here is too short. I learned to say "no" and to avoid the negative and tedious. My time is a precious commodity.
*The Mr. meant it when he agreed to "In Sickness and In Health and Til Death Do Us Part." I don't think he slept for weeks. Worrying became his hobby. No one was taken care of better than I was. (And still am for that matter!)
*People are incredibly good. My colleagues and friends delivered meals for about 3 weeks. Cards arrived daily. I had phone calls and visits from family, friends, and students past and present.
*Recovery requires work. Four years later I am still challenging myself. (Next up: getting back on a boat.)
*There is nothing like a near death experience to make you want to "get your house in order," so to speak.
These are some things I never will forget:
*Our little white cocker spaniel, Kiley, parking herself outside the door of my room. She was "taking care" of me.
*The girls taking a call from a 1990 graduate who had heard about my stroke and wanted to make sure that the Coach and Mrs. E were OK.
*They took another call came from a friend who had divorced and moved away when the girls were little. She said she called to check on me. She'd been gone from my life for so long, I often wondered if she wanted to wipe the dust of Tiny Town off of her forever.
*The University boy who came by one weekend. He apologized because he knew I wasn't ready for guests yet, but he just wanted to see me to make sure I was really OK like people said. He was tired of relying on 3rd hand information.
*Pat's (I wrote about her here.) oldest daughter coming to visit. I confessed I had thought a lot about her mom during this whole nightmare. (It wasn't lost on me that her mom had died of cancer at this exact same age.) I admitted I had worried that my daughters would be dealing with the same thing she had. She said, "God wouldn't do that to us twice." And somehow, I could hear her mom saying that exact same thing.
*The sophomore boy who called one Sunday night while he was working on his English homework for my sub. (I missed the entire 4th nine weeks of school.) He confessed that he wasn't calling for any particular reason. He just missed me at school and needed to hear my voice. That may have been the nicest thing any student has ever said.
K and L were 25 and 23 when this happened. My stroke wasn't easy on them.
K became part caretaker. Her prinicpal let her leave school every afternoon for the first few weeks so that she could take care of me while the Mr. worked afternoons. She cleaned, cooked, and helped the Mr. make "mixed" drinks for my out-of-whack tastebuds. She also helped me wash and dry my hair. She had to use cups to pour water over my head to rinse my hair in the shower-- much like I had done for her at age two. Poor thing.
L was going through a disaster of her own. She was an hour and a half away, but she came home every weekend. I'm not sure she would have if it hadn't been for my stroke. Most of the time she just curled up on the bed beside me and slept. She just needed to be close. Two recoveries were going on at the same time.
I'm pretty sure I'll never know exactly what the girls went through. (Talk about seeing their mom at her absolute weakest!) I do know that the panic in their faces was all it took for me to find the strength not to give up and the will to keep pushing to attempt the difficult. I couldn't fail them. Letting them down was not an option. It still isn't. The first time I heard this song after the stroke, I cried like a baby. It still makes my eyes water.
"In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you'll see
how happy she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes"
Martina McBride Song- Lyrics by James Slater