Weeks before my Father died, he called me to the couch.
“Denn,” he said. “My whole life I’ve had these things that I would do if I knew I had only six months to live.” He went on. “Now I’ve got two or three, and I can’t muster the energy to do anything. Even if I could find the energy, I’ve lost the will to do anything.”
His comment about losing the will to do anything always baffled me. I might lose energy, one day, to do things that I enjoy, but never the will to do them. How did that slip from my Father’s grasp?
When I was leaving the Shepherd Center in Atlanta after being there for two months due to an accident, I met with a counselor. She asked me what I planned to do at home now that I was ready to be released. “Oh gawd,” I said. “Do at home? Work in the shop. Work around the house. Work in the yard. Take the kids to school. Write. There’s no end to things I can do,” I said.
“Glad to hear that,” she said.”Our real worry here is that you become a couch potato and sit and watch movies all day. A lot of people who leave here become pretty bored with their lives.”
Bored with their life? How in the world can anyone become bored with their life? There are so many fascinating things in the world, and I’m interested in every one of them, how in the world could I be bored? But, I admit after being home now for two months, I find myself feeling lackluster about almost everything. It’s very weird for me.
I brought this up with my doctor when I returned to Shepherd for my one-month follow up. She said that, “I have to understand that, for most people, their injury consumes them. Everything else fades in importance. Everything else fades in comparison. And we, at Shepherd, promulgate that. We have people assigned just to you. We tailor your diet just for you. We take care of everything for you. Your family is here for you. For most people, though they hurt all over, their accident is tacitly the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to them.”
“Your job now,” she said, “is to do all of the things you said you would do. You will do them slower than you used to, but you need to force yourself into doing them. Make a schedule. When the schedule says ‘mow the lawn’ you go outside and mow the lawn. When it says ‘Relax and watch TV for an hour’ then do that. The feelings will come back. But like everything else, like your brain and your body, they’ll take some time to get there. You can help by forcing yourself into doing these things.”
It’s such an odd feeling to me. I truly enjoy working out, mowing the lawn, and writing. I like to take the girls to school and then get them back. I like driving my car and taking care of it. But I can see how people become addicted to sitting on the couch. Doing anything is an effort. Getting off the couch is an effort
So, I think I am walking in someone else’s shoes. I understand my Father’s loss of will even if I don’t fully emulate him. I hope, even when I don’t see the evidence. My doctors expect that I’ll have a full recovery and feel perfectly normal again. I hope in their belief even though I don’t feel it. I hope in things unseen. It’s the first step in faith, I suppose.