October 16 is an eventful day. It is the anniversary of the day my parents got married (1954), and the day my nephew became the father of twins. And, in 2008, the day I had my stroke.
I always mark that particular anniversary with grief for what I lost that day. Without going into a huge amount of detail, that’s the day that I lost the only brain I had known for over 50 years. The new brain didn’t respond the same, think the same, process the same, remember the same, see things the same…it is hard to not know or recognize one’s own self after such an event, and even worse for the people who loved me and looked at me with different eyes because, “You’re not the same.” There’s no way to describe something as familiar as a brain which contains everything I am, being replaced with a stranger’s brain.
That may sound dramatic but it’s how it has always felt since that day, even though I retained some of my memories, some of my personality traits, some of this and some of that; maybe it was more like getting an unwanted roommate in my head, shoving its way in and tossing out everything it didn’t like there, making room for its own stuff. I’ll never be able to adequately describe it (how do you describe autumn colors to someone who is blind?) and I will always think of all of the parts of me – who I was – that are gone.
But this year the grief is different. God used someone I’ve never met early today. As I’d posted on my favorite internet hangout, theres.life (a Mastodon instance) about this anniversary I got a comment from one of the other members that was very simple and basic, but that lit a light bulb that changed my entire outlook for the day. What he wrote took the grief that darkened every October 16 – and the days before that are always spent with dread in anticipation of the overwhelming darkness of that anniversary – and shone a bright light on it. Today was the first October 16 since 2008 that wasn’t swallowing me in sadness because of these very basic but profound words:
“Doesn’t sound like your new brain from twelve years ago diminished at all your capacity to enjoy your life.”
Wow. WOW! Today was SO different! He has no idea how greatly God used him. And as a result I don’t think I will have to dread that October 16 darkness again.