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Surviving the Winter Days

The last two years have been an endurance trial. Tonight I sit and weigh the situation.

The bad:

  • Over 70 days of hospitalization for my one-year-old daughter, fierce little Inara, who has seizures, blindness, and is developmentally delayed by well over a year. Her health has scared us and there were times when my wife and I feared for her, desperately. Pieces of her story can be found here and here. The past eleven months have been better, but recently her seizures are returning.
  • My wife, Jessica, heart of my heart, has suffered anxiety and chronic and excruciating pain since January, a severe worsening of earlier pain. She is as often in bed as she is out of it. I miss our romance, and it is painful to see her suffer.

The obstacles:

  • There are hardly any of Jessica’s family in the area, and one of our most beloved relatives took the last voyage, this summer. As for my own kin, I am estranged from them. They never accepted my wife.
  • Costs are stressful. I am the breadwinner–a role that I feel equipped for, so I do not resent it–but my ability to bring home our bread is put frequently to the test. I am strained by my family’s medical expenses and support needs, and by the additional student debts that have come home to roost much earlier than planned. We have had to place my wife’s educational goals on hold, due to her pain and baby Inara’s needs for special care.

The good:

  • The laughter of my children and the love of my wife. That above all.
  • My faith. That is a boat keeling through choppy waters. The boat requires a great deal of oarwork, but in this storm I am glad to be in it.
  • A secure career in the education industry, in pursuit of good and useful goals.
  • Supportive colleagues and an incredibly supportive boss.
  • Solid health insurance. That matters.
  • A competent and loving nanny. With me at work during the day and Jessica in acute pain, and with no family nearby, this is expensive but a necessity, and we are glad to have her.
  • A (relatively) peaceful and spacious place to live. We rent, we do not own–homeowning was another goal that the last two years cast by the wayside–but the place we have is a good place.
  • Both my publisher and my church community have really come alongside us. Friends from my church have given their time, and prayer, and even made a massive tactile quilt for my blind daughter. My publisher shipped entire boxes of children’s books for my little ones, to show their support.
  • The novels and “living the dream.” I have received good reviews and frequent and kind letters from readers. Those half hours that I slide in at lunch or after my girls are in bed, when I scribble and dig and churn through a desperate story, those are precious to me.

On the whole, the good outweighs the bad.

This is a good life, though one that demands all my resources and will. I have had to adopt a warrior/provider mentality and a certain ferocity, because there is no room for a relaxing of the guard, or laziness, or dwelling too much on needs of my own that are unmet while my wife is ill.

This is winter.

I think life is like this:

  • In the summer, the days are long and warm and full of life and lovemaking and laughter. The nights are present, but they are brief and hold little pain or fear.
  • In the winter, it is the nights that are long, and cold and fierce. The days are present, too, but they pass swiftly as a shadow over the grass.

Winter can last long, but that does not mean there will be no more summers. And I sowed many things in the summer that I have since reaped, and that give comfort and sustenance now: a marriage with a woman of astonishing beauty and a giving heart, good friendships, the foundation for a good and meaningful career, and some training in the patience that I now need desperately to endure long nights by my child’s bedside or long months while my wife lies ill.

I wish it were summer. But it is not.

I am weary, but I know I am strong enough to endure the winter. And that endurance will not be without enjoyment. It may be the cold season, but my house is warm, and it is full of good books—some of them my own—and with the love of my wife and the laughter of my children, and when they are unwell, the house still sounds with the echoes of earlier joy and rings with the expectation of more joy in the future.

Let the wind howl as it will. This is my home, and these are my own, and I will enjoy my life with them and keep them protected until the days are warm again.

Stant Litore

Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “Surviving the Winter Days

  1. That’s the unfortunate truth…we need the winters in life to appreciate the summers. Yet even in the winter there are moments of sun and piercing beauty. Been praying for you and your family.

  2. I lovely sentiment and moving post, Stant. I find your outlook inspiring. Peace and healing to you and yours.

    1. Or “a” lovely sentiment. Sigh.

  3. Stant, you are one of my heros! It takes a very special man to be such a loving & patient caregiver to not only one person but two loved ones!!! What most people do not realize is that in addition to waiting on both your loved ones hand and foot and making sure they get food/meds on time there is still housework. In addition to your job as educator & writer, you come home every day to a house full of chores, dishwashing, cooking supper,laundry, changing bed sheets, etc… Then all the outside chores are on you, mowing, upkeep and also keeping up the vehicles, oil changes, etc… you have the stress from work, the stress of worry of bills, healthcare that’s not covered fully by insurance,etc…. Most of all you have to worry over the ones you love the most, their health, how this affects their future and you worry about your little girl, who is healthy. You wondered if she gets lost in all of the above & if she feels neglected? She will be ok as long as you tell her every chance you get how much you love her & how proud you are of her as a helpful big sister. The guilt your wife feels for being sick is unimaginable & makes her even more ill. Just let her know you understand how she feels & it’s not her fault. That you want her to rest & concentrate on getting well. The number 1 thing like you said, “keep your faith & pray, pray, pray”
    There are many people praying for you and your family and I have the faith that God is going to open some really big doors for you, Stant Litori!!!!!!!
    Speaking from experience!

    1. I read the Moondark book series you recommended, starting with book 1, “Escape to Challenge” by Don Mcquinn. You have a great nose for a good story and an even better one for writing the best, most interesting, original material being published. That is a personal miracle for someone who has so many things to accomplish on his plate! Hang in there you are starting to get noticed!!! Keep the faith! Victoria

      1. Thank you, Victoria. Kind words!

  4. […] Surviving the Winter Days (“Let the wind howl as it will”) […]

  5. […] Other Personal Reflections: We Are Bright Burning Stars in the Middle of a Vast Dark The Bible: How and Why I Read It Surviving the Winter Days […]

  6. People are suppose to become wiser with age but sadly I hear the same old story told by many families of adult children with parents who refuse to accept their choice of spouse. How can anyone in their right mind look let anyone, any reason (religious affiliation, gender, personality type, socio-economic class, culture, etc…) or anything (pride, stubbornness, right-fighter, ego,etc) stand in the way of the child they birthed, raised and the beautiful grandchildren blessed to a Holy legal union, Marriage!
    Stant, you & your lovely wife should not feel any guilt over parents to hard hearted to turn their backs on such 2 beautiful little granddaughters. Life is extermely short and each of us should live each moment to the fullest by giving all our love, attention, time & effort to those we love & hold most dear In our hearts, our families. When we perform a task for the purpose of helping or taking care of our family members it should always be done with the joy & love of helping in our hearts. All of us should practice the art of thinking before speaking & resist the temptation of bringing other people to anger. I guess that means you tell your family they have one more chance, they better grow up quick, act with the love of Jesus Christ in their hearts toward your wife because your marriage is a sacred one meant to last a lifetime & eternity. This is their last chance to fly right or miss out on their grandchildrens precious childhood! Believe it our babies grow up fast! If they abusive family members & you know they will cause irreparable harm & health problems to your (Girls) keep them out of your life minus the guilt.
    Never never loose your faith!!!! My husband & I have taken so many looong cruises in our 32 year marriage on that boat your in now. It gets better you learn how to pilot it more smoothly when you put all your faith & worries in Gods hands & say I believe with all my heart & soul!!!!

  7. […] Other Personal Reflections: We Are Bright Burning Stars in the Middle of a Vast Dark The Bible: How and Why I Read It Surviving the Winter Days […]

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