The Longing for Normalcy: Between Hope and Homecoming

Lately, there’s a twinge of guilt each morning as I wake in my own bed, knowing Jennifer’s day begins on an air mattress that might be leaking. Plans are in place for my trip to Colorado as soon as Brooks’ team of therapists gives the nod. Yet Jennifer couldn’t possibly be anywhere but with Lauren, where the woman-to-woman care they share brings comfort amidst the daily routines.

The ring of a phone call, or better yet, the melody of an incoming FaceTime, sends a ripple of excitement through me. Now, about half the time, it’s Lauren’s face that greets me on the other end. The daily changes may be small and subtle, but through my eyes, they seem profound. Jennifer, present for every walk, every therapy session, and every meal, witnesses incremental change, which might not strike her as dramatic.

Lauren’s progress at Craig Hospital’s thorough and supportive recovery program is heartening. Her balance improves steadily, scaling new heights on their 0-50 metric. All foreign tubes are now removed, save the occasional IV for tests. Each FaceTime glimpse of her fills me with joy, contrasting sharply with those early, anxious snapshots from the hospital.

Today, hearing her say she’s out for a coffee walk with Mom and is eager to see me soon, or playfully debating whether it’s a ‘football game’ or a ‘match’ before insisting on her preference for tennis, melts my fragments of guilt about not being there. Her laughter, her zest for the game she loves, turns my guilt into a warm, bearable ache.

Yesterday brought a semblance of normalcy. Brooks and I visited a guitar store, picking up a pre-accident conversation about trading in an old guitar for one that suits his musical journey and physical recovery. His passion for jazz, his eagerness to improve, and his quest for the perfect instrument are infectious. Our car ride conversation about him driving again hinted at a return to normalcy, a sight I glimpse on the horizon. This normality is new and cherished; each day used to be a relentless cycle of mundane routines that we sometimes begrudgingly completed.

Now, the prospect of returning to that normalcy is incredibly exciting. The journey from this high plateau of hope to Lauren’s homecoming is one I feel compelled to both hasten and savor. It’s peculiar to say, but I am grateful for the days ahead when my children can experience the luxury of boredom and routine. As Brooks strums his guitar daily, the absence of a tennis racquet in Lauren’s hand since January 5th sharpens her focus and drive. It’s a poignant motivator for her, as we all yearn for the day when the events of January 6th are a distant memory, and gratitude for the ordinary envelops us once again.

Craig – Jennifer, Bryce, Brody, and our brave Brooks and Lauren

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