As for me, I was the nomad, perpetually living out of a suitcase. I spent my days at the hospital, and at night I slept at either my parent's home or any one of my siblings-all who lived within 20 minutes of the hospital that is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Three nights a week I would drive back home, a two or three hour drive from the hospital, so that I could see my daughter and pick up mail.
The pressures of managing the home; traveling back-and-forth from hospital to home or home to hospital; battling with our insurance company; filling out stacks of paperwork; fielding the hundreds of emails and texts from well-wishers; being patient advocate, missing my kids, and lacking any normalcy in my life was starting to affect me. I felt like I was the captain of a sinking ship loaded with precious cargo, left to steer and bail water at the same time.
I had kept up a strong front for everyone: my parents, my friends, my coworkers, and most especially my husband. The only two people who saw a glimpse of what I was feeling were my children. I was taught that a parent should be strong for their children, that we shouldn't burden them with our problems. Yet, I felt I could expose my raw emotion to the kids. At times, when I felt weak and needed to curl up on the floor to cry, they gave me my space and didn't judge. For, in addition to the bond as parent-child, we now were linked together by an unimaginable event. They were the two people who truly understood what I was going through, because they were going through it too.
I tried to shield my husband from the circus that was going on behind the scene. He had enough to deal with and I didn't want to expose him to all of the challenges I was facing on a daily basis. I tried to be positive and the face of hope for him, but some days were a struggle.
One day, as I sat next to him on the side of his bed, he could see the sadness etched behind my smiles, and the weight of the world I carried on my shoulders. I couldn't fool him, for he is very perceptive and knows me like the back of his hand. He looked at me with such softness and said,
"Swede, I know you are doing a lot, and I wish I could help you. I know I can’t move my arms, but I still have a head. I can think, I have ideas, I can help you; just tell me what I can do for you. I’m here for you.”
The floodgates opened and I cried, and cried. All of the built-up stress, the pressure, the sadness, the despair came pouring out. As I cried, I laid my head on his chest and could feel the warmth from his body, and the softness of his skin. At that moment, I could feel his strength. I found comfort knowing he was still my Swede-the person who could always soothe my fears and warm my soul. Although he wasn't able to touch me, or hold me, or hug me, I still could feel his love, and his desire to make me feel better.
“Don’t worry Swede. We may not have all the answers, but we will find a way.” he whispered as my tears started to dry up. For the first time since his accident I felt an incredible sense of relief.
Ever since the day I broke down in the hospital, the phrase: “We will find a way” ( the subtitle to my blog) has become our motto for how we deal with daily challenges. It’s a powerful phrase that eases stress at a time when you only want answers. You may not always have the answers, but just knowing that a solution lies around the corner and is in reach, is enough to lighten the stress from not knowing.
Fortunately, with any obstacle or challenge that litters our path, we find a way to overcome. In some cases the answers come from asking others. At other times it comes from trial and error. What’s important is that we work it out, and give it our best. We've never folded. We are still in the game, and it is our hope and plan that one day we will conquer.