The Sun Still Shines

Writer Author  Janet Seever
Christian Article : Other  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer This is an update of a previous story, “Holding on to Hope.”

“Doe.” He says the word as his blue eyes peer intently into mine.

“No.” I repeat the word. “Watch where I put my lips and teeth, Dennis.”

“No.” This time it sounds much more like what it was meant to be. We repeat it about a dozen times and go on to the next word.

“Why,” I say, exaggerating the position of my mouth and he mimics me. We do the next six words, a dozen times each, and then flip the page over and begin on the phrases. We repeat this day after day . . . for months.

In Nov. 2004 a very large stroke reduced my fifty-eight-year-old husband from the independent man he once was to someone dependent on others. He once rode a motorcycle and was an avid reader in his spare time. He often visited several elderly shut-ins and was building a large model railroad layout in our basement. He once worked with numbers for a living.

The stroke left him totally paralyzed on the right side, unable to even move a finger for the next six weeks. His speech was gone.

Not only did that stroke dramatically change my husband’s life, my world was turned upside down as well. During the first months, I felt numb and had difficulty thinking.

One doctor told me, “Your husband will probably be quite handicapped, especially in the area of speech.”

No! That wasn’t what I wanted to hear at all. So I asked, “Do patients ever surprise you?” to which he responded, “All the time.”

A friend once referred to Dennis' stroke as a tragedy. I thought about it for a while, and concluded I would rather see it as a major challenge in our lives. "Tragedy" looks backward at all he has lost, but "challenge" looks forward.

A Bible verse that became precious to me was Romans 15:13 (NIV): "May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." My constant prayer was, “Lord I trust you.” We were holding on to hope.

During this time, the song “Faithful One” by Brian Doerksen was especially meaningful to me. It starts out “Faithful One, so unchanging” and has the following words in the chorus: “You are my rock in times of trouble, You lift me up when I fall down. All through the storm Your love is the anchor, My hope is in You alone.” God’s love was indeed my anchor.

In Feb. 2005, as I drove from the hospital, I noticed that the days were getting longer and there was a hint of spring. I wrote:

“It’s still winter up here in Calgary, but we get a taste of ‘spring’ each time a warm Chinook wind comes through and melts the snow. There will be changes ahead before too long.

“There will be changes ahead for Dennis too. Someday he will be coming back home. What he is today won’t be the person he will be three months from now, six months from now, or a year from now. How far he will progress is anyone’s guess.

“In the meantime, it’s one day at a time, one step at a time—not just for Dennis, but for me as well. Life isn’t easy, but in the storms of life, I know the Lord is in control. Our hope truly is in Him.”
Fast-forward two years. The time is now November 2006, two years since my husband’s life altering stroke. I’m now looking back at the events that followed and the long, grueling path of recovery.

Dennis worked hard for sixteen months in three different rehabilitation hospitals. For nine of those months, he lived in a hospital 120 miles away from home. I made those long trips back and forth to visit him on weekends or would occasionally bring him home for a long weekend. At times I encountered white-knuckle driving—dense fog, slippery roads or blinding snow.

I wouldn’t want to repeat those long trips, but one blessing was playing worship CDs as I drove. Singing and worshipping the Lord made the miles slip by.

Working hard, Dennis made as much progress as he could. He finally moved home in March 2006, and I became his caregiver. He walks well with a cane, but almost no use of his right hand. He hasn’t regained his speech, which is limited to about a dozen-and-a-half words (spontaneous speech that is located in another part of the brain). He can recognize words that are meaningful to him—auction, propane powered truck, model railroad, 4 x 4, sports, and football. He can write his name, but that’s all. He communicates with me through gestures or by drawing pictures.

Having worked for a mission organization for the past thirty-one years, I am thankful my job is flexible. I can either do writing, editing and proofreading at the office or from my computer at home. (Dennis can’t stay home alone more than half a day.) Ten hours a week he comes with me to the office, where he shreds paper and folds receipts with one hand. A worker from a government agency is helping him integrate into community life.

I am also fortunate that our adult son and daughter help me out on occasion and a multitude of friends pray regularly for us.

Do I ever feel disappointed that Dennis hasn’t regained more speech? Yes, sometimes I do, but I don’t dwell on it. Can I understand why the Lord has given us this difficult journey? No. This is one of those things we won’t understand this side of heaven.

But this doesn’t shake my faith. I still trust the Lord and He is still worthy of my praise. God is good all the time. This I firmly believe.

A few months back, I came across a prayer written over a century ago that greatly blessed me. Written by a Scottish pastor and songwriter, George Matheson, it echoed what I was feeling. I posted it by my computer in the office and at home so I can read it for encouragement. This is what it says:

“Dear Lord, you have made waiting beautiful and patience divine. You have taught us that your will should be accepted, simply because it is your will. You have revealed to us that a person may see nothing but sorrow in his cup yet still be willing to drink it because of a conviction that Your eyes see farther than his own.
“Father, give me Your divine power—the power of Gethsemane. Give me the strength to wait for hope—to look through the window when there are no stars. Even when my joy is gone, give me the strength to stand victoriously in the darkest night, and say, ‘To my heavenly Father, the sun still shines.’” —George Matheson, 1842-1906.

The journey Dennis and I are on is a difficult one, not one that either of us would have willingly chosen for ourselves. But God has given it to us, and it is my firm conviction that His eyes see farther than my own.

Yes, even in difficult times, the sun still shines.

© Janet Seever, 2006

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Country: Canada
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