This is a picture of a Sunday School picnic from back in the day. Thank you to the friend who shared it with me in preparation for our Chapel’s 50th Anniversary! I love how there are kids and adults gathered around the table to share a meal. Some things don’t change, but I just enjoy the black-and-white nostalgia this photo inspires.
I’ve been combing through my old pictures, trying to find good ones to share for our 50th Celebration. I took a bunch of random shots with the camera the Chapel gave me as a going away present before I left. Some of those photos made it onto my picture board in the hospital bc they were of some of my favorite people.
Looking at these old pics makes me a little sad bc I see my pre-AVM self smiling unselfconsciously, and I see some of my oldest friends who have passed away, and I miss them. I have told Mommy multiple times, though, that I am relieved Aunty Sila is not here to see this. Aunty Sila would NOT have been pleased and would make me do physical therapy in the gym and horticultural therapy in the gardens at Leisure World. She was so hardcore – she’d take burning hot lasagnas out of the oven with her bare hands like it was nothing. I miss her a lot. I’m just saying.
A couple of days after I first came home I was sitting with my brother in the kitchen and he queried, Hey, Ning, are you [going to church] on Sunday?
I think he might have been kidding. But in the beginning I was so far gone I hadn’t realized the far-reaching physical ramifications of my injury, so I just went out and did stuff and was surprised when I was uncomfortable. I didn’t know about managing fatigue, eating, resting, drinking and bathroom schedules. I just responded, Yeah – like, Duh, Ernie, where else would I be? I finally got home, so of course I’m going on Sunday.
I don’t even remember that first Sunday back except DGI and A were there, and I liked DGI’s tie and I held A’s hand and asked her to verify the date for me (I was still hoping this hadn’t happened). I am SO thankful Ernie asked me that question and I took him seriously since by going to meeting on my first Sunday back in the state (even though my readiness is debatable) I eliminated the drama that would have attended a future decision to start going after absenting myself for a while. I instinctively clung to the familiar, and to the routine – most of which had been eradicated – but I somehow managed to get to the meeting, and my friends carried my chair up the steps for me. Thanks, guys!
Seeing old pics like the one above remind me that even though everything changed when my brain bled this is where I came from, and my future lies with this community. When I moved to Oregon I settled in, got involved, and loved it because I had been practicing for a lifetime in Maryland.
On one of the first times he preached at our Chapel after I came home, Mr. H told me that when he had first gotten the news about my AVM and understood how serious the situation was, he didn’t think he’d ever see me at a meeting again.
Spoiler alert: He’s seen me. Multiple times. And thank God I’m mentally intact enough that I can follow what’s going on. Last time he preached he said something about how Responding in anger…will never accomplish the will of God in your life. Forgive me – I’m not doing the point justice. He delivered the statement so powerfully that at that point I elbowed KAR who was sitting beside me and mouthed, That was way deep.
The expectations overall were not very high for me. Another friend told me that no one would have blamed me for lying in bed and watching Netflix for the duration. I’ve tried that before, actually. But there’s only so much you can watch before you can feel your brain turning to mush, and my brain is already compromised, thank you. And I am grateful to be improving to the point that I can keep my Recovery schedule going with Team Tanimal.
RecoveryLand is like the Wild Wild West. I’m exploring, and it’s kind of crazy sometimes – I prefer order and predictable patterns. I often feel like I’m floating in space, having trouble believing that the Land of the Living really is for me, like the dove sent out from Noah’s ark, trying to find a perch to rest on (Genesis 8.11). But as Mommy sagely pointed out recently, the fact that I did not die means that it is for me. And when I think of my Chapel Family I know without a doubt that I belong there.