I’ve spent the past three weeks in Seattle helping my daughter settle back into her apartment and her job, and I’ll stay a few more weeks until I’m comfortable that she has reintegrated into her life here. She’s having to make adjustments to her former routines, and has to learn to work around the post-stroke deficits she’s still struggling to overcome. She’s back into therapy with the same skilled therapists who worked with her in the month immediately following her stroke – though sadly, her insurance coverage for therapy sessions will run out before her need for them does. Still, her courage and her determination to regain her former independence continue to amaze and impress everyone who knows her. She’s already back at work in her research lab, and although she’ll have to make adjustments there, too, her wonderful boss and coworkers are making the transition so much easier for her. I’ve been spending the hours while she’s at work in a university library working on my next Special Edition (the third in my Doctors in the Family series) and enjoying the energy of being surrounded by undergrads, grad students and medical students.
It has rained almost every day since we arrived at the first of March — more rain than usual even for Seattle. But this weekend has been beautiful. Cool, but not uncomfortably so, and with hours of sunshine now that the days stretch longer. The snow-capped mountains surrounding the city are simply breathtaking against deep blue skies. Daffodils are in full bloom and flowering bushes and trees are just bursting into color. As we drove past the walking trails around beautiful Green Lake on the way to church this morning, we smiled at the sight of all the walkers, runners, bikers and skaters who’d come out to take advantage of the near-perfect weather. One thing about Seattlites, we commented, they appreciate every nice, sunny day. They don’t take such pleasures for granted.
My daughter and I attended a meeting yesterday of stroke survivors, ranging in age from a sweet young teenager to more elderly members and all ages in between. Some of the people we met had their strokes as long as twenty years ago, and are still dealing with deficits. Others, like our daughter, are just learning what it means to have survived a stroke, and still don’t know quite what the future holds for their recovery. During the meeting, they discussed advice they wanted on their website for other stroke survivors and caregivers. Among their tips were to never give up hope, never stop trying. And all agreed that they should always celebrate the small blessings. Friends. Family. Advances in recovery, no matter how seemingly minor. The yummy cookies and cake being served during the meeting. Pleasant outings on pretty days. The little things that make life worth living despite its trials and challenges.
I hope to remember the lessons I’ve learned during our daughter’s recuperation, from her and from the many other brave survivors of stroke and brain injury we’ve met during these five months. I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is to celebrate the small pleasures. Like this time with my daughter. The phone calls connecting me to my husband and son back at home, and my other daughter in New England. A cozy library nook in which to write, with a window next to me and bright yellow daffodils just on the other side of the glass. The warm and friendly members of the church congregation who welcomed us with coffee and bagels this morning. A good romantic suspense book waiting for me to relax with it when I finish this post. Maybe I’ll brew a cup of my favorite hot tea to enjoy with the book. There are still a lot of challenges to be faced by our family — as there are in so many families — but those obstacles are so much easier to tackle when balanced with rewards, no matter how small.
May you find your own small things to celebrate in the coming week.