Out of the Ashes

Elaine - Brownsville, Oregon
Entered on June 10, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe great things can come from the adversity that comes into our lives. I used to think of adversity as something to dread. You know adversity, the thing that comes into everybody’s life. There’s an adage, Murphy’s Law, which states “everything that can go wrong will go wrong.” I have never bought into that belief. I’ve always been the type that sees the cup as half full instead of half empty. However, after having a stroke eight years ago, I’ve questioned whether the cup had anything in it at all many times.

I was 43 years old, a wife and a mother of two girls, ages 12 and 9. The day before I was released to come home from the hospital, after spending four days in a drugged stupor, I found myself standing before the mirror in my room. All I saw were two vacant eyes. While standing there, one of the therapists came in; he asked what I was doing. My reply was, “nothing, just looking into the mirror.” My thoughts, however, were quite different. I was trying to find something, anything in those vacant eyes. I was wondering if there was anything left. What would I be able to do, what could I even offer anybody now that this had happened to me. I had at one point early on heard the doctor tell my husband that I would never be able to homeschool my children again. I would never be able to serve others in any big capacity.

After coming home, I had many a day that I felt like a pile of sludge on the ground. I was so fatigued. Any amount of exertion would put me back in bed. However, I kept trying to do more each day, each week, and each month. I seemed driven by something deep inside of me, something that wouldn’t allow me to give up. Even though at times I just wanted to go to bed and never get up. Maybe I was pushing myself because the doctor said I would never be able to do a lot of things again, and I wanted to prove someone could return to the way they used to be by sure determination. No matter what the reasons the true hard facts were: that I had a family to finish raising and I was determined to finish what I had started. My goal was to have my girls prepared and guided towards college, something that was not done for me. They were going to be the first generation to go to college and elevate themselves above the status quo.

So even though I felt fatigued to the bone, within one to two months I was attempting to homeschool my children once again. By the next school year I was able to do our whole school schedule which consisted of famous women in history, earth science, math and field trips. Within a year I had started walking for exercise. This was disappointing to me as I had been running before the stroke. I missed the speed, the air blowing through my hair, and the exhilaration that comes with all those endorphins coursing through my body. I kept attempting to run through the years and last year, 2007, I made a goal to lose weight, and I was going to do it by running again. I started in January. It was very slow. I wondered if I would ever be able to run like I used to. Perseverance paid off and I eventually was able to get up to an eleven minute mile.

I am still running, and I feel alive, strong, vibrant and full of vitality. I no longer feel like a pile of sludge on the ground, but feel like I have been re-born out of the ashes as the Phoenix. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. I have found that it has made me a stronger better person, someone who can accomplish anything, and that adversity is no longer something to dread.