Thank you to everyone for your patience while waiting for updates. I'm sure you are tired of hearing my poor excuses for not updating more regularly; please accept one more apology! I keep thinking, "I need to update the blog"---and that's about as far as I get. It's not that nothing has been happening; it's just that (1) I don't think you want to hear every excruciating detail of our lives (you know, like when the dog throws up from eating off someone's plate illegally or when the dryer screams because a shoelace got stuck in between the tub and the wall) and (2) I want to be sure to share more positive news than negative. Mind you, it would be very easy to state only negative thoughts. Our family's struggles with Dale's condition and Dale's struggles with learning to think and move again are constant. There are no "days off"; there are no days where we forget what happened, mainly because it is still happening. This is his life and our lives now, and we are still adjusting to the challenges each day brings.
My second oldest, Katie, broke down last night in tears, saying, "I miss Dale. I miss his stutter while trying to talk too fast." This, of course, brought me to tears, so we held each other and cried for a bit. The simple truth is Dale is different, and, as a result, we are different. I don't mean to sound whiny or complaining, but it's true---things are different now and we are still uncertain if things will ever be normal again. I know in a very real sense that life will never return to the same state as before. Mine and Chad's awareness of our children has been heightened, and that will never go away. They thought we were overprotective and cautious before! My girls are lucky I let them even out of my sight now. Our daughters will always remember that day at the beach and the subsequent days in the hospital. Their outlooks are permanently changed because of Dale's accident. They no longer have the innocence of believing no harm will ever befall them simply because it hasn't yet. Their lives, their faith, their inmost beings have been impacted, and there is no going back. My oldest daughter, Amanda, who is seventeen now, felt the brunt of the guilt and remorse over Dale's being injured. She, being the oldest, felt she should have protected him and kept him safe. She told me she had kept an eye on him all day, and then, the minute she relaxed and let herself get involved in a game with some friends, he got pulled under. When she heard the shouting, she immediately scanned the area for Dale and could not find him. She will never get over the feeling of lying prostrate on the sand, begging God to find her brother. My second daughter, Katie, who is fourteen, was also present that day at the ocean. She described to me how her friend's brother came running over to them, screaming at them to get out of the water. They looked at him in confusion because they were not that far out; they thought he was overreacting. He was the one who told Katie, "It's your brother who is missing!" She stumbled out of the water, looking around wildly for Dale, realizing he was nowhere in sight. She, too, began praying and begging God to save Dale. They watched as the rescue personnel began criss-crossing the waves, looking for any sign of him. Agonizing minutes ticked by, hope trickling away, a knot in their stomachs as the knowledge pressed in on their frightened senses---it was taking too long. Then the jet skis converged on one area, and they saw Dale's body pulled from the ocean. My girls watched Dale's lifeless body be carried ashore, watched the EMTs begin working to find some sign of life. They will never forget how cold Dale looked, how pale his skin was, how desperately the EMTs performed CPR, trying to restore Dale's breathing and pulse. They will always have these memories emblazoned into their subconcious. My third daughter, Ashley, who is ten years old, did alot of growing up this summer. She was the one so scared when Dad picked them up from our friend's house in the middle of the night. He told her there had been an accident at the beach and Dale was in the hospital very ill; she wanted to ask him more but was afraid it would hurt her Daddy to have to talk about it. She could tell something was seriously wrong. Not until Chad brought them to Doernbecher the next morning could I talk to her and explain what had happened. Tears burned in her eyes as she asked me, "You mean Dale could already be in Heaven?" I had to answer honestly, "It's possible." At that point, Dale was still in a coma and unresponsive. During those next hard days, it was Ashley who drifted silently in and out of the PICU, sitting quietly by Dale's bedside or holding his hand, then returning to the waiting room where she assumed responsibility for helping Emily, our youngest and only five, to pass the time by coloring get well posters for Dale or playing games with her. Even Emily, young and unable to process all that had happened to Dale, understood that he was very ill and needed lots of prayer. She still wants to be the baby of the family and sometimes gets frustrated because I have to spend more time with Dale now, thus limiting my time with her. I have put effort into making Dale's routine workable for the rest of the family. My husband, the tower of strength that he is, struggles daily with the fact that his son, his only son, may never leave home. Dale might be with us the rest of his life, never fully able to care for himself, never holding a job, never marrying. And, while we thank God for giving us back our son, the thought of the unknown future weighs heavily on both mine and Chad's hearts. This "accident"---for we know nothing is accidental with God---has most definitely changed our lives forever. We know "all things work together for good"; some days we can see that more clearly than others. Please continue to pray for us---all of us---as we step forward into this new future God has prepared for us.
On a happy note, Dale's increased therapy times (we are now up to four a week, two SP and two PT) seem to be helping him already. He is more willing to speak to express his needs and desires. He still screams some, but that has decreased in the past week. SP therapy is working with him to increase his endurance levels and concentration. She started him off with just a question or two to answer, then increased the amount to five questions without taking a break. Dale is now working up to answering ten questions or doing ten simple activities without stopping or crying. He is reading more now in SP and thinking of correct answers very well. He is also doing well in PT. His physical endurance level is increasing, as well as his ability/desire to continue working at something even though he is tired and wants to stop. These signs are indeed positive and encouraging. Our case manager has done an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes work to arrange all the therapy Dale needs, as well as appointments with the doctor, neurologist, physiatrist, etc. Praise the Lord---I would be sunk without her!
You know, God is good no matter what. He is good if the sun shines; He is good if the wind blows; He is good if the crops fail; He is good if the harvest is bountiful. Our God deserves our praise, our love, our devotion, our honor. I am so glad God chose to save a sinner like me! HE IS GOOD!!!
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."