Well, we have a lot to be grateful for around here. First and foremost being that my husband is alive! And secondly, that he is feeling better day by day and is not in as much pain. It has seemed my stress levels this year have been in direct correlation with how Jeff is feeling. The more pain he was in, the higher my stress levels, the less pain he was in, the lower my stress levels. I can’t imagine how challenging it was for him with the amount of pain he went through as it was traumatizing for me just seeing him in that much pain. Seeing someone you love in pain and not being able to do anything to make it better is really hard, and I just couldn’t bear to see him suffer anymore. Our surgeon made a comment about how incredibly tough Jeff was, and he’s absolutely right. He is one tough guy. I already knew that, but wow, seriously.
It felt like we were practically living in the hospital for awhile there, all three of us staying overnight so much of the time, and getting to know everyone by name. Someone even left a note on my car saying that employees needed to park across the street because my car was at the hospital so often they assumed I worked there. The boy and I would run home to eat and shower, and then return again. Laundry and dishes started piling up faster than I could keep up with, since we were barely home, but we just wanted to be by Jeff’s side. The boy was such a huge help to me during that time and his scrambled egg cooking skills sure came in handy!
When Jeff had been in the hospital in January, we didn’t contact any family until we knew what was going on, both of us deciding that we didn’t want to worry anyone until we had some answers. But when we brought him back in April, I reached out much sooner, feeling like we would need support throughout the process that time. We did need support. We stayed overnight with friends nearby the night of Jeff’s second emergency surgery, when we felt raw and shattered, and weren’t able to stay by Jeff’s side throughout the night. I would not have asked for myself, but looking in my boy’s tear-filled eyes I knew how much he needed friends to lift his spirits that night, and it turned out I did too.
A thoughtful friend came to visit in the hospital, and brought us a whole bag of delicious snacks and food. Another dear friend picked up some things Jeff needed in town, and passed them along to my dad when he came to visit us. My dad ran errands for us and brought the boy to some of his activities so I could be at the hospital with Jeff. Friends brought the boy along on a field trip so he wouldn’t have to miss out. We appreciated it all so much.
And then, on a morning when I came home exhausted after another long night in the hospital (and worn down from a migraine), I drove up the driveway to find that a very large tree had fallen, completely blocking the way. You can imagine how deflated I felt in that moment, wishing only to feed my hungry child and return to my husband at the hospital as quickly as possible. A friend came to the rescue and was our hero that day, clearing it so we could once again drive up our driveway. I’ve thanked him enough times since to make him feel uncomfortable I’m sure, but I don’t think he’ll ever realize how much his help meant to our family that day. Each and every thing that family and friends did to help us, big or small, meant more to us than we could ever begin to express. Every note, every message, every sweet and thoughtful gift sent in the mail, helped lift our spirits and made us feel supported, made us feel like we weren’t facing it all alone.
My mom flew out early (she already had a trip booked for the end of May) and helped get our life back in order. She took the boy to activities and then dug in at the house, helping transform our house from the chaos of emergency mode to once again being able to see the kitchen counters and have clean clothes to wear. It was such a blessing to have her help getting the house ready for Jeff to return home. And it was so, so good to have him home again. My dad visited a second time and got a start on getting our yard and property back in more order, which made Jeff feel much more peaceful, since the yard is so important to him. And then my mom came out to visit a second time too, and we really felt grateful for all the help.
While all those things were happening, my stepsister got married. (I had my suitcase in the living room and was packing the day we brought Jeff in to the hospital, I missed the wedding.) My other stepsister had a baby, and my stepmom stayed with them for awhile and helped. (Can’t wait to meet my new little nephew!) So there were two wonderful things to celebrate. And life continued on as it does. The boy had activities and performances amidst it all. In the thick of it, it felt so strange to be out in the world and have things continue on so normally while my world felt entirely upside down, but at times that felt comforting in a way too.
As grateful as we were for help, it was sometimes hard for us to accept it. We both just feel much more comfortable with giving help than we do with receiving it. And Jeff and I are constantly doing work meant for a whole group of people really, with just the two of us, and I guess we’ve gotten used to that over the years. Used to not relying on anyone but ourselves and each other to get the things done that need to be done around here. He is the person who has always had my back, and the person who I rely on most, and the thought of losing him was so deeply terrifying to me that it shook me up enough to stretch me out of my comfort zone and my usual ways of being.
My “normal” mode would be to feel too guilty to accept help because I would think how busy family and friends were and how much they already had on their plates without adding any more… but slowly I started getting just a little more comfortable with accepting help when people offered and I think I can safely say it was the same for Jeff. I know how much I love helping people in my life and what a good feeling it gives me, so I’m trying to see things from that perspective more. It does feel good to say “Yes, thank you, that would be so helpful and we would appreciate that so much. Yes, we will gladly and gratefully accept your help.” It feels good to soften the resisting, and simply accept and say thank you.
I’m happy to report that Jeff has been healing remarkably well. Every day he is feeling better and is able to do more, and his energy is returning bit by bit. We knew his road to recovery was going to be a long one, we are both really pleased with how well he is doing. We’ve appreciated your kind messages! I got so behind in e-mails, there are still quite a few well-wishes from family and friends I haven’t responded to yet, but we sure appreciated them. Jeff was so glad to return to his shop, and has been working on custom orders. He’s been spending a lot of time in the garden and that’s been really healing for him and a huge help in his recovery I think. There have been times lately when we’re eating dinner and I look over at Jeff and we smile at each other, and I know we are both feeling the same thing. We look at the boy, and we just feel so blessed and grateful to all be together, and at home.
P.S. I nearly forgot to mention the picture, I sure appreciated the boy making some thank you cards for family and friends. We also gave one to Jeff’s surgeon, who we were all so fond of. “Thank you for saving Jeff’s life, we sure like having him around.” I did a little “thank you” baking, and the boy did some drawing, but mostly we wrote cards expressing our thanks.