A little over a month ago, my husband Mark had a catastrophic stroke. What followed has been one of the hardest months of my life. The stroke happened in his left brain, affecting his speech, perception of time and paralyzing his right side.

He’s still alive and medically stable. He’s in rehab and gaining strength, speech, and mobility daily. He’s got a great team, and he’s (finally) optimistic.

He will get through this.

In the last month, I have become a single mother, lost my best friend and partner, my confidante, my biggest cheerleader, and the one who is always at the top of my text messages worrying why it’s taking me so long to get home. And yet, he’s still here. I’m grateful he’s still here, even if he’s not quite the same as he once was.

I will get through this.

I’ve come to terms with my new normal which a whole lot emptier than my old normal. But within that emptiness, I am finding new strength and determination I’ve never before had to express. Latent capabilities and strength are coming forward because they need to. The hole in my life creates a vacuum pulling in much more of me to compensate.

When it first happened, I wasn’t able to tell many people publicly because some sensitive family members hadn’t been informed. I turned to a very locked down Facebook account to let my people know. I’ve since opened things up so that people could share some of my thoughts that were coming up.

I haven’t had much to report since the last post. We’ve been in some negative emotional cycles as his brain has pieced together what has happened and the enormous emotional toll of being in a rehab facility sinks in. He is only aware of where he is and unaware of how far he’s come. I have to remind him of how far he’s come multiple times a day. And often that’s not enough.

Because of where the stroke happened, he often forgets who he is, where he is, and why he’s there. He recognizes me as a familiar face, but often forgets my name. It’s become a bit of a joke.

He’s been in a replay of his own personal Groundhog Day every single day. Sometimes he quickly ascertains what’s happened and remembers a lot. Sometimes he remembers nothing. And sometimes he remembers pieces of things that make sense. Sometimes he makes no sense.

Some good friends send recorded messages that encouraged him, which has encouraged him greatly and given him relief numerous times, allowing him to rest.

This week, he got his first haircut. He’s never really cut it that short, but this time, they trimmed it like a buzz cut. The nurses and therapists comment how handsome he looks, and he seems to appreciate the attention.

Christmas this year will be quiet for us. There’s no focus on presents or trees or decor. Instead we focus on what really matters.

Keep yourselves healthy and whole; the medical machine is not for the feint of heart.