Since Al's stroke just over 10 months ago, I've experienced a tremendous amount of grace to deal with it. You know how people say, "I don't know if I could handle that", when they hear about a death in someone's family, or someone's child facing a life-threatening illness. I used to say that, and hope that I would never have to face such a challenge. And others would reassure me that I would have the grace in the moment to go through such a thing.
Well, that is exactly what I'm talking about. If someone had told me ahead of time that my husband would have a stroke at age 37, I would have freaked out and tried to figure out any possible way that I could prevent it from happening. I would have spent lots of energy worrying about when, how, and why it would happen. Instead, it came very unexpectedly, and God's grace met me at that very first moment when Al called me to tell me that his boss was calling 911. God's grace surrounded me and sustained me for many months afterwards as I was a single mom, and I took over every single detail of our household, including car maintenance and paying bills, which up until then, were solely Al's jobs. His grace was enough for me, so that I actually walked around with a smile on my face, and I floated a bit above the ground as he carried me through some really challenging times. I was able to tell people that God is good and that I fully trusted in Him.
Ten months later, I have no doubt that God's grace is still enough for me; He is still sufficient for me in my weakness. But some days, like today (the past few days, actually), it all catches up to me and overwhelms me. I succumb to everything that makes me feel sad and helpless about the situation.
I miss my husband's old walk. It sounds weird, but he had a distinct gait, with a funny little spring in his step that he doesn't have now that he has to lumber around with a half-obedient leg and a cane. And I doubt he will ever have that same walk again.
I miss my husband's smile. Half of his face is still numb, so he has to really force it for the left side of his mouth to smile, and when he makes that much of an effort, he looks like a goofy kindergartener saying "cheese" for the photographer instead of the man I married.
I miss my husband's laugh. He used to have a guffaw that I can't really describe, but it would come out when he thought something was especially funny. Now, as he so affectionately describes it, "I sound like a dumb-ass." He still knows HOW to laugh and has a great sense of humor, but the old laugh is gone. I hope and pray that it's not gone for good.
I miss having my husband wrap both arms around me. Only one is functional at this point. His one-armed hugs are still pretty strong, but there is something so secure about being enveloped in both of his arms.
I miss having my husband take care of me: little things like driving when we go somewhere together, or running to the bank to get money, or getting pizza on Friday nights, or picking up a few things at the grocery store when I didn't have time. Now I do all of those things.
I miss our sex life. Yeah, we're all adults here (I hope). I miss the closeness we used to share when his body was capable of doing what he wanted it to, and when he still had some libido. But that is on hiatus for a while, and I don't like it! We have other ways to express our affection and to be intimate, but there is nothing quite like the real thing.
There you have it. A few of the many challenges we face. I am always trying to give thanks for what I do have: my husband's life(!), my children, a job, provision for all of our needs. I am trying not to fall into a habit of feeling sorry for myself. But some days, it overwhelms me.