On a scale of “Two steps forward, one step back”, today is a 3-step-forward day. The gradual, halting improvements of the last week to which only numbers dared testify blossom today into victories to which even our blissfully lay eyes joyfully testify.
Today, our faith is made sight.
The giver of Aaron’s sleep is withheld after morning rounds, and Aaron begins to awake. Eyes, still swollen and whites bloodshot to solid red, blink, then open. Eyebrows arch in expressive request and in response to questions. Lips move with slight but careful motion; were we adept lip readers we could perhaps understand. Natalie leans close, avows her love, and dissolves in joyful tears as Aaron SMILES! This, we clearly understand.
Pertinent binary questions receive appropriate nods and shakes. Impertinent questions are ignored or dismissed with an eyebrow twitch. Limbs move perceptibly in response to requests. The gagging paroxysms of last week are gone with the endotracheal tube; discomfort and coughing, somewhat harsh, are taken in stride. For 3 hours, the Ventilator allows Aaron’s lungs to work and make all the decisions about how to breathe. The Ventilator provides only assistance, rather than direction. Aaron tires, but does well.
What wonder and what miracle. Shattered, bleeding and bruised, rendered mute for now by the life-giving tracheostomy, vision blurred, body weakened by savage battle, groggy still from powerful opiate, this is unmistakably and wonderfully Aaron.
He comprehends as we tell him of his journey. Anne tells him how near he has been to his sister Celeste, her 11 mortal years having ended 20 years ago. He knows; silent tears flow down his nearly beardless cheeks.
A spiking fever subsides as midnight approaches, and Natalie says goodnight. Aaron mouths a kiss.
This is a very good day indeed.