Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Of Faith and Promises

After spending nearly 50 years with the same person, you know them pretty well. You can almost read their mind and, usually, you can finish their sentences.

The vows you took bind you together with loving, honoring, cherishing and faithfulness to each other through thick and thin.
You’ve memorized their unconscious habits and the quirks of their personality. Perhaps you can even recognize them from a great distance solely from their movements or their walk. The sound of their voice is discernible even across a crowded and noisy room.

Imagine what it would be like if your partner, your soul-mate, suddenly lost their ability to communicate with you; their ability to speak gone in an instant. All that you knew to be truth changed – a new reality settled in its place.
Will your ability to seemingly “read their mind” prove to be accurate? When there are no sentence fragments to guide you – will you know all the answers?

Imagine, further, that along with the loss of their voice they have lost the use of half of their body. One whole side completely useless and limp. Everyday things like: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting…all impossible without the aid of another.
A love nurtured and deepened over nearly five decades put to the test in the refining fires of a stroke.

Sudden. Without warning. Silent.
Occasionally, in my line of work, I get to witness the kind of love it takes to weather that kind of storm.

Once, in a blue moon, I walk away from a situation feeling blessed and honored to have been in the presence of something that I cannot fully comprehend.
Last week I had one of those rare moments.

I watched as one spouse cared for the other and struggled to understand the “language” that the brain had created in the absence of true speech. Facial expressions, intonation and one-handed gestures all there was to go on.
In the several weeks since the stroke “yes”, “no” and “ok” had been regained. At least, now, there was confirmation of accuracy - immediately. Most of the time their closeness and the ability of one to understand the other proves accurate and the ailing spouse is “heard”!

The love they share is palpable and overwhelming. As I witnessed the strength of their marriage vows I was filled awe.

They do as much together as possible and their teamwork is allowing the slow and steady return of strength and movement in the limbs affected by the stroke. They have faith that, in time, full use of the affected limbs will return.

They have faith.
That is the cornerstone of their relationship. They share a faith in God that surpassed the “tragedy” that took away (temporarily) a voice and the ability to use one arm and one leg. They are holding on to that faith with everything they have.
“For better or for worse”

“In sickness and in health”
Those words carry more weight when spoken in the context of a major illness. I can only hope that I will pass the test should I ever be faced with a challenge such as theirs.

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