Thursday, April 3

expected and unexpected change

I was sitting in the office with the Director and my former supervisor when I looked at them and said, "I think I'm going to experience change soon."  I couldn't explain what it was or how that change would come to be, but I'd felt for a few weeks that something in my life was going to shift.  Almost like looking into the horizon and seeing that the route I was taking wasn't going to be available any longer.  Almost like the ship I'd been sailing would soon begin to steer itself and I wouldn't have a say in where it was going or how fast it would get there.

That was in January.  Right before the holidays I had applied to Denver Seminary for a graduate degree I never thought I'd want.  Actually, after my brief entanglement with college after high school, I was sure I'd never go back. I'd be one of those folks who didn't go to college but was mad successful anyway, because I'm stubborn, work at everything 100%, and simply don't fail.

So then I got my acceptance letter a few weeks after the conversation about looming possibilities.  "Congratulations, you're accepted.  Your whole life is about to change--lots of homework, 12 hours of class each week, Master's level reading, and an entire shift in the way you think."  Still, though, I felt change on the horizon.

Then Alex applied for a different job position at the same institution.  Travel required, hours beyond 40 expected.  Still, not the change I knew was coming.  I even tried to write about the change I felt looming, but didn't have any concrete words or thoughts to piece it together. 

Then the call came.  "We think your husband has had a seizure. He's on the ground, unresponsive.  Has this happened to him before?  We need you to speak to the paramedics and give his name and birth date for the emergency room."

Never before had I experienced such horror, fear, worry, and isolation.  All at once I was in the wrong place and needed to be somewhere else right away, but couldn't move. Experience with seizures? Yes, for all of my early life.  Experience with terminally ill family members, even death? Yes, a couple times.  But never before had I been in a place where I felt my husband was in extreme danger, all alone.  My skin still shudders at the memory of the voice on the other line and the dark avenues my mind raced to in seconds.

A few hours in, there were still no answers, but Alex was alive.  All of his extremities were moving, his voice was clear, and he knew who he was.  A couple days later he was walking around, speaking in slow, monotone stutters, and sleeping soundly at home.  However, that wasn't my husband.  That man who lived with me for a couple of days was not the easy-going Alex who typically laughs at mundane jokes (or says them himself), cuddles with his dog children like a big bear, or talks baby-talk to get his way. I was now isolated with a stranger.

A few days later, Alex had returned--slowly but surely--and we were trying to find our new normal.  It was in those moments that I realized I had arrived at my destination.  Our ship had sailed head-forward into change; change was knocking at our doorstep.  Suddenly, my usually even-tempered husband was showing emotion.  He was crying in fear, yelling in anger and worry, and talking out loud about questionable faith and what really matters in life.  Suddenly, I felt extreme pride and honor to be Alex's wife.  I was honored to be trusted with him and his life and well-being; I was proud to be the one near to help him through something that would rightfully scare any grown man.

We have the same address, the same jobs, and the same life path.  But much has changed.  When I think back to the impending shift I knew was coming, I knew it would affect our finances, our faith, possibly our health or lifestyle and truthfully, I still don't know what has changed or is changing.  We're still walking in our post-emergency fog, waiting for some of the smoke to clear.  But I do know this: it was more comforting to know that God was with me before and during the change, than it was scary to look down the road and see an unknown change.  It's more comforting to know that our lives are changing in amazing ways than it is scary to not know what happened or if it will happen again.  It's true that change can be embraced and when we allow all the ripples of the change to shift us for the better, we grow in ways we never thought possible.

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