Faith is a strong word. To some it means the trust in all, and to others it is a crutch to lean on.
Faith can hold you up when the world is pulling you down, it can rally strength when you are feeling weak, and it can hold you until the wind storm passes. Faith, by definition, is having complete confidence or trust in someone or something. To many, faith is believing – with your full heart – that something can, and will, happen.
I do not talk much about my faith; what it means to me, what I believe, or how it has helped, or not helped me during this time. It is not that I haven’t been asked the question. Last spring, at a meeting with many law enforcement chaplains, I was asked the question “What has your faith meant to you during this journey?”
I paused when asked that question, and although I cannot remember now my definitive answer, I do know that I fumbled with it. I find that many people have trouble answer that question.
What does faith mean to you?
After my husband was injured, and I was informed that he had a severe brain injury, I remember thinking that the world around me had stopped. Life became slow motion, even though in some way I knew that things continued to move around me at a normal speed. I did not cry, or freak out, or express extreme emotion while at the hospital. Although I am aware that I was experiencing extreme tunnel vision, or what I have referenced in the past as “living in the eye of the hurricane”, I also know that there was a deep rooted calm, almost like a living light, that sat within my chest, starting from the moment I saw Frank, lying on a gurney, hooked to a ventilator, in a coma.
From that moment, that light inside me grew with each breathe I took. When I closed my eyes, I saw that light, flickering and dim. And it gave me a moment of quiet when I needed it. Funny, but I always think of it like a small blue ball. In the darkness, just giving off enough light to comfort me. Blue, I am sure. Because of my ongoing thought of the blue bubble of law enforcement protection that I always felt around me.
Interesting now to look back and think that there were two blue bubbles in my life. One that I saw on the outside as protection, and one I saw on the inside, as comfort and as calm.
That internal blue light represents to me a solid being of strength, and of faith. Why faith? Because since that moment of truth, the moment I finally saw Frank. The light came to life inside me, and said “All will be okay”.
And I believed.
As each day moved forward, and things were hard or scary, a piece of me has always believed that it would be okay. Now, understand that I am fully aware that okay. It does not necessarily mean that I will get what I want, and that life will be just grand. Or Frank will just head off to work one day. I have had to embrace that okay means that it, whatever that may be, will be okay. At different times in Frank’s recovery I have had moments of feeling like a complete failure. It’s like losing faith in the process, and when that occurs, something always draws me back to center. Call it a sign, call it a message from God, call it whatever you want. I call it my faith; faith in this path that we are on, and faith that it will be okay.
Stepping out into the public with our story as we have has not always been easy. There are times, although not many lately, that I would realize that someone knew who we were. We got what I lovingly call “the face.”
It is the face someone makes when they recognize you. then the realization of how hard things have been, and the feeling of sadness for us, and then it comes, the “face.” Now, in no way do I ever have ill feelings to those people. Everyone has been so kind and supportive to us, especially our home community. The face is a normal reaction for people that are not on the inside of trauma – death, injury, illness and pain cause us to feel uncomfortable, and people often just do not know how to react, or what to say.
I take each encounter with a face as a hug, knowing that someone understands a little bit that we have had a rough time, and they feel for us. Hugs are appreciated, even the uncomfortable ones.
My faith has been the foundation for being able to make huge life changes for us, and believing that things will be okay. I am a chronic worrier, and there have been times in the past that worry will take over. Those are long nights, fretting over the “Should I, can we, do we” questions that seem to build strength in the dark of night. I spent many nights working through that process, with no resolution by morning light.
Instead, when I was in my deep worry phase, I was told to breathe, and to just focus on one thing at a time. What did I need right then, at that moment – stop, close my eyes, breathe, and ask for it. So one day, I finally did that. I closed my eyes and listened to myself breathe for a little while.
Then I asked for a sign, anything, that would give me an indication that things would be okay. I apologized for being selfish and asking. I said please. Then I took a deep breath, let it out, and opened my eyes.
The next day Franked talked to me for the first time. And not only talked, but asked me question after question, for several minutes, before exhausting himself, and drifting back into his coma like quiet.
Now, some of you may be thinking, so what? Coincidence? It was time for him to talk anyway, it was just good timing.
Maybe. But that doesn’t explain it happening over and over, every time I have asked, since that day. Those around me that are believers in God, or some higher being, have teased me about my shock each time it happens. Why am I so astounded when I ask for help, or a sign, and it is given to me, do I act so surprised?
I don’t know, but I am. Each and every time I am given that gift. It restores my faith, and gives me trust in the path, and that things will be okay.
Whatever okay will mean to us in the future.
For today, we will be happy with the time together, the glimpses of sunshine, the continued progress, the support of friends and family, and the knowledge that we have faith to keep us going each day, towards the day when we know that things will be okay.