As an occasional writer I have often been in the place where I look for inspiration. Joanne's stroke, the days and nights in the hospital, have provided plenty of that. I think crisis brings that out in me and writing about it soothes me.
I remember my first youth group missions trip to Mexico to build houses. I flew to California and went with my uncle's youth group. I was deeply effected by the poverty and living conditions of those whom we were serving. And I remember writing notebooks full of bad poetry on the flight home about what I had experienced. I had to get it out on paper. Still do.
Hopefully I have progressed a little in my ability to express myself with the written word but heartbreak continues to get me writing.
Strangest conversation today. I was driving home for a quick dinner break and was making my evening round of calls to let the family and a few close friends know where we were at. So I'm talking to a someone and she says, "How was your day?" and reflexively I said, "Pretty good. I mean Joanne is still in a coma but other than that things are looking pretty good." I almost laughed out loud after I said it! Of course what I said was true--there were no crises today, Joanne inter-cranial pressure (ICP) stayed low, her life was at no immediate risk, and we didn't have to make any gut wrenching decisions. I am thankful for that--my spirit felt lifted. But of course Jo remains in a critical condition. Talk about cognitive dissonance!
As I process the day I think of two things: the first is that God's mercies are new today, even in the midst of my darkest hours. I have a wife that I love beyond description in a coma, on a ventilator, surrounded by machines, with literally a dozen bags of various IV fluids keeping her alive and yet somehow, today, it is well with my soul. Feels weird to say that but I honestly felt my sprits rise a little today as I saw her ICP number stay low and her vitals stay steady. We are no where near being out of the woods with this deal, but in the darkest woods, God is there.
The other thing I thought of: today Audrey came to visit her mom and we were walking down the hall at the ICU she said "Dad, this sort of feels normal." And she's right, but it's also so bizarre. How can something so messed up feel normal? I have only one answer that makes sense to me: a peace that comes from God that passes all understanding. That's all it can be. How can something that I never could have imagined, that almost defies words in it's badness becomes tolerable? Again, it must be God.
I have to say that honestly I don't know if I will feel this way tomorrow. I know a time is probably coming where I will wrestle with God about the "why" of all this. The whole process has been minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. But as I sit here in this chair (a very comfortable recliner) tucked away in the back of Joanne's room behind all the machines, I am completely convinced.
This may seem like over-spiritualization to some. I've had one conversation in which I articulated these thoughts only to have that person say, "But how are you really?" Like somehow these are just words that as a believer I am supposed to say, but that I don't really mean.
But Joanne's stroke is the crucible in which what I have articulated all my life as a believer is tested. Do I believe in a peace that passes all understanding? Do I believe that God's provision is enough for today? Do I believe that God's glory can shine through in the darkest of times? Do I trust? Do I have faith? Is God really even there?
Those are the big questions in the life of a believer; at least in my life. And today I choose to answer each of them in the affirmative. You see, this feels beyond bad, but in my heart of hearts I know the truth. And the truth is a resounding yes!
That doesn't mean that this situation isn't bad almost beyond my ability to withstand it, but it also doesn't mean that God has abandoned us, in fact I think it has caused him to draw near.
I am going to share something that is probably very theologically unsound but comforts me greatly: I believe that Joanne and Jesus are carrying on a great conversation right now, that somehow her soul is in communion with him while she otherwise seems to be absent of her body. I picture them together somewhere short of heaven having the most fascinating and meaningful talk. And I picture that one of these days he is going to say to her, "Precious daughter, it is time for you to go back." And at that moment, she will awake.