Saturday, November 03, 2018

My Sister's Miracle Mantra

Now the purple flowers are tucked into the ground.
Now the first miracles appear.
Last Sunday, not even a week ago, my sister was making this and that sound, and saying lots of words too, like “Hi Dad” when my 92-year old father appeared by her bedside, when all of a sudden she said with great urgency the word
“BOUND.”
Her daughter, my niece Lauren, repeated it and again my sister said “BOUND” and her eyebrows flew up and screwed in the way that they do. So desperate was she to say something, but what?  
“BOUND BOUND BOUND”
Again and again and again she kept saying the word.
Lauren sat by the bed, puzzled. Why would her mother get stuck on one word this way, what was she trying to say? So the two of them started to play a kind of charades with my niece saying this and that and my sister going no no no no and around and around they would go her saying bound and bound and bound and no and no and no
And suddenly out of nowhere (it only took half an hour or so) Lauren throws out the words, “BOUND AND DETERMINED?”
That’s when my sister screams “YES!” and that’s when her spirit fires up and her eyes glow and she seems to come alive, no longer is she lying so limp and pallid against the pillow.
The next day the speech therapist says Karen’s swallow reflex is suddenly strong enough that they can give her a taste of
vanilla pudding and applesauce, ten tastes from a spoon.
My sister’s eyebrows kept flying up, one mouthful at a time -- try going a month without a single thing to eat or drink, not even water -- anything (even mouthwash) tastes good.
That was Monday. Bound and determined as she now is,
by Wednesday, only two days later, she excelled on the so-called swallow test (I should have known, this brainy sister of mine routinely got 100s on her chemistry exams as a student.)
The nurses and aides were thrilled, the speech therapist was speechless -- never had he seen such rapid progress in a patient before. Immediately the staff gave her half an egg salad sandwich to eat and then, a very blessed chocolate chip cookie.
On Thursday, I sat with my sister while she ate a plate of Swedish meatballs and noodles for lunch. The thrill of it is hard to express.
Yes, miracles do happen and here I want to say that it’s hard but extremely important to stay in gratitude as long as possible, to keep holding onto the attitude that “I respectfully thank you over and over again dear God for helping my sister get off the feeding tube so very quickly.”
Alas, it doesn’t take long before I see myself starting to get greedy, I start imagining other miracles, one perhaps where she stands up and takes her first step. I will stop myself right here. I will spend today in thank you thank you thank you.
And rest with the magical mantra,
“Bound and determined.”

I am very grateful to my mother-in-law, Abigail Kirsch, who painted this wonderful watercolor of an iris. Knowing my sister's love for this flower, Abby spent countless hours in the last few weeks getting the painting just right! I know my sister will love it!!