John Dunning's Journal
Signing off....thank you....and goodbye
Written Apr 5, 2014 5:49pm by John DunningThis weekend marks the six month anniversary of the tornado. Though healing isn't finished yet and we still have to face ramifications from the storm, Ann and I are both trying to face forward and let life be defined by things other than that day.
I did think, however, that it was appropriate to mark six months, and I did so on facebook this morning. It's bothered me for some time now that I let the caring bridge site go quietly into the night without a goodbye and thank you - honestly - I just didn't know what to say as we tried to make life less and less about what the site was established for.
This anniversary seems like the appropriate time to do just that. We so appreciate those of you who have followed our story here, some of you offering encouragement in the comments, and some of you quietly supporting us with good thoughts and prayer.
For those of you that use facebook and want to stay in touch, you'll find me at https://facebook.com/jodunni1 - I'd love to "friend" you there and stay in touch.
What follows is my post on facebook from this morning. If I don't see you there - a fond, heartfelt goodbye and once again - thank you so much.
Six months ago today I spent my birthday wrapped head to foot in bandages, a spot on my left collarbone, my toes, and my face exposed. I slept while surgeons worked their magic, family and friends prayed and worried, and folks back home woke to face the daunting task of cleaning up $50 million dollars worth of damage.
It has been the most transformative 6 months of my life, to be sure.
I have learned to love more deeply.
I have learned to approach most of life's problems with a little smile born of having conquered something more difficult than that which I'm facing.
I am more prudent but less fearful.
I am surrounded by people even more beautiful than they were before by virtue of my changed perspective and our shared journey.
I am blessed beyond measure.
Written Feb 1, 2014 8:01am by John DunningIt's been a while since I posted a "tornado" update, I think for two reasons: I've wanted to get a handle on this phase of normal first, and frankly, this is much closer to "normal" than we've been for months so it doesn't feel as update worthy (though I'm afraid that perspective is an unwelcome remnant of times gone by - read on).I've now got two calendar weeks of work under my belt, though between the two I only put in a bit more than a half a week's worth of hours (13 and 15). Everyone on campus and in my professional associations is incredibly supportive of my slower pace, for which I'm so appreciative. I think the only person pushing is...well...me, but that is appropriate and while I am pushing myself, the level of exhaustion I'm reaching each day and week feels like a healthy stretch without setting myself back.It is wonderful to be spending time strategizing and problem solving with friends - good exercise for the mind and healthy for the soul as well to be engaged in the work of supporting the teaching and learning process once again.Ann and I are relishing being home, cuddling puppies and each other, puttering, running errands and such - such simple things but now experienced with a more profound realization of joy than I think ever I've had.I'm recognizing that in that sense of wonder lies my most important recovery challenge: as the leg gets stronger and my hand gets more deft and my mental endurance returns; how do I retain and nurture this childlike sense of appreciation for the simple, beautiful, precious things in life? What a gift to be reminded at mid-life how lovely things can be (even if it took a whack upside the head with a dumpster).
This is life
Written Jan 18, 2014 4:09pm by John DunningOur first week home is under our belts and it's been wonderful and productive. Friday was a day I'll never forget, from the tearful and heartfelt farewell at Madonna to the amazing crazy jubilant welcome home parade in Wayne. Since then we went to a birthday concert, started rehab with the great crew at Providence, got cleared for and planned my return to work next week, bought a truck and picked up a few things at Bomgaars (which truly signifies being home).
Ann had insisted that we keep the week light and relatively open and boy was she right - I tire so incredibly easily still. We've had fabulous meals brought to us every night by meal train volunteers and even with the job of meal prep pretty much offloaded and a light week it's been exhausting.
We knew there would be challenges in this phase and one of the interesting ones is recreating the motivational sustaining environment of full time rehab. It's easy to be upbeat when you have great professionals structuring your time and your goals to be attainable if you work hard and stretch. Finding and setting those goals yourself when you are face to face with things you'd really love to work on but simply can't tackle yet is difficult at best.
It really forces you to focus on what you can do this week that you couldn't do last week, what you can do today that you were afraid you might never be able to do again. Every little victory is one step closer back to "normal" - a state that was far more beautiful and amazing than I ever gave it credit for and yet, time and again in this journey my view is pulled back into the current moment to find the joy and satisfaction of it. I drove again this week. I shared a beer with friends. I cuddled puppies. I was able to hold my wife on our couch and watch a favorite show. We had breakfast with mom at our own table. I drank coffee from my favorite weekend coffee cup all week long.
The big moments of life are amazing - little moments of life are beautiful. In between are the challenges that make us better than who we are.