Five Hundred Miles
Updated: Jan 5, 2019
The song going around and around in my brain is “I would walk five hundred miles and I would walk five hundred more, just to be the *mom* who walked five thousand miles to fall down at your door.” Not very spiritual, I know.
People are sending me worship songs from around the world, hoping I will have a chance to listen and be strengthened. But my baby girl is awake and the time for soulful contemplation is not now. There is a season for every activity under heaven, and our season is a season of action.
It’s already 11 o’clock when I have a chance to nip home and have a quick shower and get dressed for the day. She has stood on her feet and sat in a chair, and fed herself breakfast with her right hand. The primary brain injury is in the left hemisphere so they were not expecting her to continue choosing her right hand as dominant, but hey, expectations were disregarded days ago.
The days have gotten busy and both of us are exhausted. Speech therapy is disappointing - it doesn’t feel like there’s much progress. Her tongue won’t go where she tells it and she forms the wrong shapes with her mouth. Sound won’t come.
Reality hits hard and running from despondency is exhausting. Somehow it’s easier to trust God with the big things than the little details. How high can we hope? Her brain was not only severely damaged, the swelling also means it was starved of sufficient oxygen for nearly 72 hours. I shake my head. I need to remember to be grateful for every win rather than disappointed by every limitation. Our miracle is still in progress. Is there anything God cannot do? One of the countless thoughtful messages I receive daily comes to mind. “Did you really think I would lead you to fight an unwinnable war?”
When I get back, it’s time for O.T. and she is building blocks into a 3-D construction, and completing a game that is pushing her fine motor skills and her working memory to the limit. She has to think two or three moves ahead, but she seems to do okay.
The big event of the day is a walk around the entire ICU, and she walks with co-ordination, even though she is a little unsteady. To me, she looks typical post-operative: weak, but not at all like there is damage in her brain.
She scans the board with patients’ names on the way past, and points within two seconds to number 13 - Miss Mun-Gavin. “Yip, that’s you!”
The afternoon is a bit quieter and we go from exhausted to bored. “You wanna play a game?” I ask her. We sit knee to knee on her bed and we’re relaxed and having fun. We decide to practice counting. She counts out LOUD, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. But then when she tries to say six, she says five, and when she tries to say seven she says five! She laughs at her muddle - she knows what she’s trying to say but it’s coming out wrong. We change the subject and she tries to tell me something else entirely but she says ‘five’ again. We burst out laughing and she clenches and shakes her fists and pulls her cute, frustrated face - like, how crazy is my brain?!
Moments later she lies back against her inclined bed, and tapping next to her head, she asks me, “Can you put this a little bit down?” We both raise our eyebrows. That’s quite a sentence! It’s slow and deliberate, but there’s sounds and words and they make sense... Is this the start of the words flowing?
She’s on a bit of a roll and while she’s feeding herself dinner, she looks at me and says, “Sarah and Rachel can come.” My heart swells. She wants to see her friends! The ones that never left the hospital til she woke up. There’s more of them, of course, but I’ll let them in in pairs over the next few days.
As the day is coming to a close my body is aching and we’ve done our five hundred miles for today. We’ve laughed this afternoon and that measure of joy has given us strength. I give Kiara a pile of ten cards showing different emotions and ask her to choose which ones she feels. She chooses:
My warrior princess.