The stroke robbed her of the powers of speech, and walking is still a struggle as well. Previously a vibrant and gregarious professional and mother of two, she has now been waging a nine-year battle to simply express herself in a world devoid of her voice.
Her husband dotes on her with devotion and love, and though they both tire of the struggle from time to time, there is nothing to do but continue.
Although she cries every few days, most likely out of frustration, her smile can still light up a room, and her eyes sparkle with a keen intelligence and wit that she simply cannot express with language.
I have visited three or four times now to check on her and the assistance that the home health aides provide, and our connection becomes sweeter with each visit. At first, I would hold her hand as I talked with her, looking into her eyes, making as much contact as possible, always talking to her rather than talking about her in the third person. Her husband, standing nearby, observes our interactions and obviously approves.
This past week, I felt a compelling urge to give her a hug as I prepared to leave after a brief visit, and she made it very clear that only a kiss would do. Surprisingly, she kissed me on the cheek with gusto, hugging me tightly with her good arm, and as she let go, she beamed me a smile that would melt the coldest heart. It was one of those moments in life, and the gratitude and love in her eyes is something I will always remember.
This courageous woman and her husband daily continue the work of recovering the functions that were lost when the massive stroke tore through her body like a bolt of unfortunate lightning. Locked in her brain and unable to verbally communicate the feelings and thoughts that swirl in her mind, her deep hazel eyes still well with emotion, and she does indeed communicate in myriad ways.
Visiting this lovely woman and her husband is a pleasure, and on this particular day, she bestowed on me the gift of unabashed affection with a simple kiss and hug, and I left their cozy home radiant with delight and gratitude for the reward of being the nurse for such a courageous and wonderful woman.