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The Words Will Come Later

October 30, 2017

The Words Will Come Later by Dave LaRue

I have been in the habit of sleeping with my cell phone on and within comfortable reaching distance since my younger daughter, Michelle, had a life-threatening experience in the middle of the night 12 years ago. But on Tuesday, September 5th, my phone was set on the floor in the hallway outside the bedroom.

I had an early flight scheduled, and my alarm was set for 4 AM. I had put the phone out in the hallway so I would have to get all the way out of bed to shut off my alarm. 

I was having a difficult time sleeping when, at 12:41AM, I heard my phone vibrate against the hardwood. As I heard this unexpected but unmistakeable sound I thought, “Who on earth could be texting me at this hour?”  

As I lay there thinking this, the phone started vibrating again. A call this time. Lindsay said, “You’d better see who’s calling,” just as the phone stopped making noise.  

I got up and picked up the phone. The call and text had been from Jen’s mom, my ex-wife, Cindy. I read her text and immediately called her back. Yes, our road just hit a big turn that we were not anticipating. Information was limited at that time, but when you hear “brain surgery,” you know it's not good news. Cindy and I booked flights to Denver.

To put it briefly, our 36-year-old middle child, Jennifer, had a ruptured brain aneurysm while visiting friends in Denver. She collapsed at dinner after complaining of a feeling like an ice cream headache. Luckily, her dear friend Erin rushed Jen directly to the trauma center. We’re grateful she did. If she hadn’t reacted this way, Jen would be dead. 

So I write this at the University of Colorado Hospital on Day 29 of Jen’s journey. The whole family has come together to rally around Jen and support each other as we support her. Jen has had multiple surgeries, multiple angiograms, and countless scans and exams and tests. At one point she had 12 meds going into her at the same time. 

Each day we hear promising news from her medical team, as well as reminders not to take anything for granted. But ultimately, what matters most is that she is alive and she is making amazing progress! 

If you want to catch up and follow Jen’s journey, we post daily updates atCaringBridge.com/visit/JenLaRue

I would like to thank those who are following our journey there on behalf of Jen, myself, and the whole family. We are touched by all the love and support Jen has received there. We read and share all of your messages with Jen. It truly seems to help her. It helps us stay strong, too. Thank you.   

Surprisingly, or perhaps not, I am having a very difficult time writing this month’s newsletter. 

Instead of having an epiphany in the form of a single insight, the lesson I can gather is simpler: I have to take everything as it comes. At this point, I’d only be telling myself stories to make it easier to wait. The narrative and “meaning of it all” will have to wait.

One thing I know is that, just when we think we’re doing a great job of being at peace with who and what we are and what we can and should be, we get another challenge, another opportunity to grow. 

Knowing that doesn’t mean I know what the growth opportunity is for me here just now. My attempts to find an object lesson are premature. The challenge each day of healing is enough for Jen, and the challenge of waiting is enough for those of us on Team Jen.     

Some day this will all be soundly in the past. It will find its place in Jen’s story and in the story of all of us who love her. But it’s all part of one long, unfinished moment for now.

I believe in telling the story of your life. Creating narratives is how we create meaning in our lives. But in evolving situations you can only write the story vaguely, drawing few conclusions, making soft judgements. 

When things are out of your hands, having a narrative makes you feel that you can predict the future and control what will happen. But you can’t. You have to write it in pencil, lest you get invested in a story that hasn’t happened yet, or won’t, or has more to do with your worries and fears than anything else.

So I don’t have a lesson to teach, or a point to make, but I have a parting thought to share. It’s only natural that I have been thinking a lot about love throughout this experience, and there is something I can say about that. 

The people we love are precious to us. Sometimes we are frightened by the way this makes us vulnerable. 

So, sometimes in our daily lives we express love from a perspective of fear of losing who or what we love. 

But over the past month I have been reminded that, when the chips are down and you are confronted with the prospect of loss, love makes us courageous. It helps us dig in and face our fears directly when there’s no negotiating with or rising above them. 

When we have to, love makes us capable of bearing the full weight of the same uncertainties we spend the rest of our life trying not to think about. And love does more than that. More than I can express. Love is an amazing thing. 

If nothing else, this experience has given us all a chance to give and receive love. I am humbled by love’s power and humbled by how much love I have seen and felt. For now, I am moved and grateful beyond words. The words will come later. 

Cheers, 

Dave       

Ps. You can see Jens progress at CaringBridge... she has made amazing progress and is our miracle once again!!