I had a stroke last week.
I was trying to find a different way to start this blog, but writing my way in felt disingenuous. So there it is, today’s fun-filled topic.
But I’m not talking about the stroke as such. I want to talk about stories.
When the ambulance took me away, I didn’t know when I’d see my wife again. In pandemic 2020 you can’t have someone with you, and so through all the tests and waiting and fear, I was alone and she was at home in a frenzy of worry because she had no way to know what was going on.
I’m home now, and I’m okay. I have physio and tests ahead but I’ll be fine. My wife is exceptionally patient, kind, caring, and funny. I’m in good hands.
You know what got me through that lonely, scary time? Words.
My wife stayed awake all the first night, texting me to check on me and reminding me how strong I am. She also reminded me how much she needs her buddy-in-all-things. She’d packed me a bag before the ambulance took me away and included clothes and snacks and my writing stuff. And it occurred to me that bag and her words to me represent our story—what we know and treasure about one another, especially in times of conflict. Creating that kind of story with someone is incredibly special. She was there every step of the way, lending me her strength and holding me up with her love. Without her…well, I can’t imagine.
And beyond that, I used words and stories in other ways. I watched Disney movies on my iPad—stories of redemption and finding your path and overcoming the odds. I talked to the nurses and asked them questions—how long had they been nurses? What trips got cancelled? Do they like root beer? Turns out one likes strawberries but doesn’t like anything strawberry flavoured. Another thinks her soon to be husband bought lots of duct tape for bondage play. One has her whole life at work—no social life except at work, and she likes it that way. “No responsibility” that way.
And I finally took the time to get my own proposal for my next book done. I did research and considered conflict and what I want the tone of the series to be. I wrote it and sent it to Robyn to pick apart. I also continued reading the research on my work in progress and making notes. I cuddled Sadness (see photo above) and kept rereading the note my wife had tucked into her arms, which she had delivered to me at the hospital. I chatted briefly with my bestie who offered up words of love and sarcasm, just as a bestie should. All words that reminded me I wasn’t alone.
When things were at their worst, when I was afraid and crying and alone, when I didn’t know what was happening, I turned to stories and love to keep me going. Other’s stories as well as my own. And my personal story isn’t done yet either. I kept thinking about my wife and all the things we still have to do together. I thought about the trips we need to take, about our business plans, about our hugs and laughter and often inappropriate jokes. I thought about our decision to always do things when we have the chance (and to make those chances happen) because you never know when you’re out of time…
And so my story, our story, continues. I am so, so grateful to still be here and to have the chance to spend more time with the people I care about. And the power of words never ceases to amaze me. Remember how important your story is, too.