“Pencils,” he replied.
He stood in our kitchen, 365 days ago, in greasy work boots, his calloused, dirty hands rummaging through the cupboards. He slammed each door as he went, growing more and more impatient. I asked him what he was looking for.
In one word that morning, life changed in an instant. I have prayed so many times over the last year to simply wake up on December 7th, 2017 and go back to who were were again. We were just standing in the kitchen one minute. And the next, I was standing in the emergency room with shaking hands and a spinning head while the world collapsed around me.
It feels like so long ago; it feels like yesterday.
There’s not a lot that feels right to say about the one year anniversary of Brett’s stroke beyond to say that he is the strongest, most badass human I will ever meet. The amount of progress he has made in a year is astounding. First there was walking, and then small movement of the arm, and then more words. Now there is running, meaningful use of the hand, enough words to communicate needs and wants and “I love yous.” There is hope still, even here, one year later.
One of the things I have grappled with (and finally learned) through this experience is that two conflicting emotions can exist within a person at one time. I am tremendously grateful to have my husband, my kids’ dad, my best friend, with us still; I am still so very, very sad. These feelings, I’m learning, are not mutually exclusive. And grief, as it turns out, has it’s own time table for healing.
Looking back now, I can see that it is the culmination of those feelings - the gratitude, the sadness, the fear, the grief, and above all else, the love - that is what will keep us moving forward.
John 13:7 says - “Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”’ 365 days later, I still don’t understand. After a year, I can clearly see what we have lost. But only now can I see the potential for what we might gain.