Dear family,
Andy has had another rehab type day.  He was busy learning new skills.  It is hard to convey this process verbally.  Andy goes at it 110 percent, but to do that, he has to overcome the lack of perfect clarity, due to the effect of his medications.  He has to struggle to communicate through a weakened voice due to his surgeries. And he has to hold his emotional life in check as he battles through the issues of how his life has changed.
This latter issue is really the issue.  Today some of the New York Mets Baseball team were at the hospital visiting with some of the soldiers.  The hospital is careful to get permission before bringing visitors into the room.  When they asked Andy if he wanted them to visit he "waived them off." 
This incident clearly characterizes what Andy is going through.  It is much different when a soldier is wounded, but he knows that he will heal and life will be basically as it was before.  For Andy, and those like him, that is not the case. Life is not going to be the same.  They are not able to look forward to returning to normal, because they do not know what normal is any more. 
So, everything in life becomes bitter sweet.  Even our loving support and all of our best wishes and encouragement produce a confusion of emotions for him.  These are met with a mix of gratitude mingled with fear and magnified anxiety.  And daily now, I see him trying to sort it all out.  

As he struggles in this stage, it seems that only the things that have real gravity matter at all.  The shallow stuff and the light weight stuff of life never really get his attention right now.  The consuming desire is just to do what ever is possible to get better.  To get down the road.  To find out what you can do again.  All that really matters is "what will fix this." 

Andy is always polite and considerate to those around him.  But he is in real emotional pain.  And everyday I see him quietly shield the people around him from that pain.  He doesn't lash out, he doesn't complain. He just works at it.  Hour after hour, day after day, he works at bringing his emotional life and his physical life back to the place of some meaning. 
I love this kid.  I love who he is right now.  I love what I see in his character and the strength of his heart.  I look forward to the day when we can laugh and talk about silly things together again.  I look forward to the time when peace and confidence return to his life.  But this is not that day.  Today I have to be serious with him and accept the issues that are important to him and join in the gravity of his struggle. The struggle is really all that matters right now.  And, to be part of Andy's life right now is to be part of his struggle. 
Andy's life is not about the past right now.  It is not about visits from baseball players or high ranking officers.  Right now Andy's life is about finding the real substance of what will put life back together.  And I think, right now, all he needs is the time to get that done, because he already has the heart. 
I know that all of you love Andy.  Some of you have never even met him, and yet I know that you love him with a true love.  Thank you for being part of his struggle.  Maybe we should all agree that, one day, after the tears, when it is appropriate, we must all laugh together with a long and heart felt laugh at the beauty of what God brings from this struggle. 
Love to all  Larry, Donna, and Family.


Ivana Clay said...


Just wanted you to know that myself and my family are praying for you and yours. I can't imagine how hard it is to be away from your brother at a time like this. But the letters you post with the updates are so detailed and really seem to take the reader there. I hope that is some comfort to you.

Ivana Clay

Spring Barnickle said...

I am praying for your comfort today. I also pray for mercy, that Andy will feel held and loved by his Savior in a way that he doesn't bear the weight of this burden. I can't even imagine what he is dealing with right now, but I care very much for all of you and my heart aches when I think of all the changes that must be made.

This verse has ministered to me lately: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3) I so hope that Andy and the people by his side experience what it means to have "everything we need for life" today.

Much love and encouragement in Christ,
Spring Barnickle

Wanda said...

What an excruciating journey.
I have no words. Only prayer.