I’m 32 years old, and I’ve just been told that I recently suffered a stroke. Your shock is my shock. This was the last thing I expected to be told about the results of my MRI. Now, in hindsight, I see that it does explain my symptoms. But nobody would have suggested that before my brain scan. It wasn’t even on our radar. After the shock has worn off, I’m just a little overwhelmed. I love my family more than my next breath, and I hate the thought that my heath would threaten to take me away from them. In these moments as I consider what really matters, I know that God is able to do what my heart most desires: He is able to turn my children’s hearts towards him that they might know him and love him all the days of their lives. In short, nothing else matters. Whether I am here or not, I know that God is able to do that. I cannot even begin to crack open the door on the grief-filled thought that my children would grow up without a mother, my husband without a wife. It’s more than I can contemplate. But I can trust Jesus.
Right now I have more questions about this than answers. I don’t know for sure what caused the stroke (high blood pressure during my first pregnancy, blood clots after either birth, birth control pills, high cholesterol, heart arrhythmia, to name a few frightening possibilities), or when it happened. I don’t know if I’m likely to have another one. I don’t know if my lack of balance and coordination, my dizziness, are here to stay or if they will abate, why they waited this long to show up. (I’m told that the imaging showed that my stroke was older, within the past several years, not the past several weeks when my symptoms spiked.) I do know that I will see a neurologist, soon, we hope, and get some more clarity and answers. And I do know that my Father was not far off whenever this occurred. He was there in that moment, and he is here with me in this one.
And I’m also incredibly thankful. This event was obviously so minor that I didn’t even realize what was happening. I have no permanent paralysis. I’m alive. I can hear (mostly). I can see. I can speak. I can care for my children, my husband. I’m thankful. I’m adjusting to the care that I need to take when I’m moving — carry less, make more trips; step carefully; keep my eyes on what I’m doing. I’ll spill more, but if you know me, you know that’s always been an issue. Andrew has a term for this. He says I’ve “pulled a Catherine” when anyone drops anything. I’ll be pulling more “Catherines” to be sure. But that’s ok. Because I’m still here.
And I still know that my God is faithful. I still know that I always have hope in him. He has chosen this race marked out for me, every step, every day, including the finish line. And I believe in his goodness. In processing this stroke, this future, with my husband, I told him that God doesn’t promise us a life without pain. But he does offer us hope and promises to walk with us through it all. I know that he will be with my family each step of the way. I trust that his plan is bigger and better than mine.