One of the questions people have finally become more comfortable asking is, "What's it like?" The answer would be much more than we could share in a couple of paragraphs. It is a little easier to answer as a parent but I believe the only way to know what this has been like for Josh is to be Josh. I wrestle with this "Josh Question" everyday.
I've learned that the best I can do is sympathize but I will never be able to fully empathize. For to have empathy is to be able to identify with and understand another person's circumstance from their perspective. Josh is rare in that though he is completely cognitive, yet he is unable to engage with his surroundings the same way you and I do. He cannot care for himself in any way. He is entirely dependent on others for nutrition, for personal hygiene, for dressing, rolling over, room temperature, cough, scratching an itch. the list goes on. I have asked myself, "how would I handle this?' How would you handle this?
Yet in spite of everything, "every day in every way", Josh continues to get up and fight. And he does so without making excuses, without complaining, and without blaming anyone. At a time when I would be mailing out invitations to my pity party, Josh is remaining focused on getting stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is teaching me a lot. I have shared this verse before but it bears repeating for Josh has been a living example of this for me:
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
A couple of weeks ago Josh had a friend ask the question, "What's your biggest fear?" I froze not certain how he would respond. He spent the next minute using his device to spell out, "...People will forget me." It has been interesting to watch how all of this has impacted friendships. You would be surprised how many relationships seemed to have vaporized over time. We realize that Josh, if not all of us, draw strength and encouragement from relationships. It can really lift you up when you know there are folks out there cheering for you. The road to recovery from an injury like this is especially lonely. It is in these lonely times the gift we need most is the gift of "Presence". Each of us have people in our lives that are feeling lonely and forgotten. We've all been there at one time or another ourselves. It is one condition we all can identify with...one reality we can all empathize with. With that in mind, I encourage you to take the time to be truly "present" with those the Lord has placed in your life. It matters.
I am pleased to report Josh CONTINUES TO MAKE GAINS! In December we shared that Josh would be returning to the VA's Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center in San Antonio. We stayed for 4 weeks over the Christmas/New Years Holiday. The time there was focused on him operating his chair independently, working with his communication device, vocal fold augmentation, and a therapy plan upon our return to Arkansas. He has increased his range of motion in his limbs which many thought was impossible. We now spend 13 hours a week with therapists! Please continue to pray that he would walk and talk.
We are working on a special announcement. We hope to have the details nailed down enough in the next week to be able to share with you. Until then we remain...
All in for Josh!!