It’s up to you, and it’s up to me
No one can say what we get to be
So why don’t we rewrite the stars?
Lyrics from Rewrite the Stars composed by Benj Paske and Justin Paul
“Are you going to love me today?” I asked.
It was at that moment I knew something was wrong.
My husband and I have sappy, syrupy routines that probably invoke gagging from others, but they work for us. For example, each morning, upon waking, I ask my husband what kind of day he’s going to have. The usual response is, “Great day!”
I follow with, “Are you going to love me today?” The answer is always an enthusiastic yes.
So when, on the day before Valentine’s, he said “no,” my heart sank.
At first, I thought he was playing with me, but then I noticed he was not making eye contact. Sitting at his computer, he seemed frustrated and somewhat lost.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
He continued to stare at the monitor. “I can’t…I can’t…I can’t,” he chanted. I put my hands on his shoulders.
“You can’t, what?”
“I can’t. I just…can’t.” This time he looked me in the eye, almost pleading. “I can’t.”
He then walked to his dresser, pulled out underwear, and began putting them on over his pajamas. I fully expected him to stop and laugh as he realized what he was doing.
I was getting scared. My love’s behavior was so far out of the normal that I grasped for easy reasons. Overtired? Distracted? Dehydrated?
Anything, please, God, besides something serious.
The voice in my head wouldn’t quiet, though. Stroke? Was my sweet husband having a stroke?
Pulling him to a chair, I asked him to sit a moment. “Can you tell me what you are feeling?”
He started to respond, got about halfway through the sentence, and stopped. He tried again and again and ended with, “I can’t.”
It took convincing before he agreed to go to the emergency room, but soon we were on our way. I kept praying it was something simple…maybe a reaction of some kind? Did he accidentally take an extra blood pressure tablet?
Fear and hope mixed like oil and vinegar. At the moment, fear was stronger.
After a CAT scan, the ER doctor confirmed that my husband had, indeed, had a stroke. “It’s in the part of the brain where we communicate,” he said. “Like a severe storm, the stroke has come and is gone. Now we have to clean up the damage.”
I was trying not to cry. That’s not what my already confused husband needed to see. When tears did leak out, I would turn away, pretending I needed to get something from my purse. I needed quite a few things from my purse as the morning wore on.
Ultimately, my husband was sent to a bigger hospital to get an MRI and a neurosurgeon’s expertise. As I gathered up my husband’s coat, the ER doctor said, “He doesn’t know your name right now. That’s the stroke. I know he knows who you are. That’s your husband. I believe he will get better in time. Good luck.”
Dang those tears! Why did they keep finding me?
It has now been over two weeks since that life-altering morning. After a hospital stay and subsequent time at a rehab center for speech therapy, my husband will come home soon.
I am beyond excited.
I know I am blessed to have more time with him.
I am curious how our roles as husband and wife will ebb and flow.
Will I become more nurse and less partner?
Will he resent me for insisting he “follow doctor’s orders?”
Will we find ways to communicate fully as his brain heals and rewires?
Will our love soften the hard days?
Obviously, I don’t know the answers to what lies ahead. My heart, however, tells me every moment going forward, together, is a gift.
My husband and I have been writing our love story for twenty-two magical years, and I believe we have more juicy chapters to create.
And God, please continue to guide us towards a “happily ever after” ending.
P.S. My dear friends and family–those of you who sent your prayers, compassion, and notes our way, thank you. I 100% believe the energy you create on our behalf works towards his wellness.
Doug, Diane, Sasha, and Bryce, my fears are quelled by your strength, advice, thoughtfulness, and love. Because of you, I can breathe, accept, and hope. Because of you and your love, he’s happier, healthier, and responding.
My gratitude is endless.