April 16, 2015

8 Life Changing Truths I learned from my Father’s Stroke.

Flickr/Mike Poresky: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeporesky/5288597473/in/photostream/

It’s the call you never want to receive, “We’re at the hospital—your father had a stroke.”

I will never forget the feeling of the earth’s rotation and everything in its speedy pathways coming to a standstill, like one’s very first pause in savasana.

Before I could even ask questions, a ball of emotions spiraled outward from the pit of my core and I immediately broke down in tears.

It took me nearly a month to finally catch my breath, but in the process of my dad’s healing; I learned quite a few things about life.

A father’s love is the purest form of love.

I’m not a parent (yet), but I can imagine the infinite love a parent feels for their child is equal to the love a daughter feels for her father.

I’ve always had a close relationship with my dad, but when I heard his voice just after his stroke I realized just how much I really loved my dad. The instant emotions were of gratitude, connectivity and deep compassion.

I believe when a baby is first placed into a father’s arms, that pure love never separates; it only continues to grow.

A village of support is powerful enough to heal.

Spending just four days in the hospital helped me discover a new truth: humans have the ability to heal through the power of prayer and presence.

Every hour I observed another visitor from my dad’s network of friends and family bring along purifying plants, healing gemstones, organic foods and even reiki. As I watched a lovely woman sit on the hospital bed and practice reiki over his weak areas, I felt a sense of warmth and safety take over my dad’s spirit.

With love filling up the room, and thoughtful prayers from a distance, the healing process was ignited almost instantaneously.

Parents become teachers of our most profound lessons.

Studies have proved how effective stress can be on the body, but do we listen? ‘Course not. We continue over-booking our schedules, taking on too much work and worrying that we’re too worried about not getting enough sleep.

Following one of the toughest years for my family, stress finally forced my dad to rest. The ironic thing is: it also forced me to slow down. It’s amazing how it often takes an emergency to find your breath, rather than leaving plenty of room to breathe.

In moments of weakness, you discover new strengths.

Seeing a parent suffer is probably one of the hardest things to witness.

This is where my yoga and meditation practices helped get me through. I somehow leveraged my fearfulness of the unknown to transform into a stable rock of positivity.

In the moments of tears, I found my breath. In the hours of uncertainly waiting around, I found stillness. And in the reflection of my dad’s weakness, I found strength.

Our bodies are living proof of divine intelligence.

Through spending hours and hours surrounded by doctors, you learn a lot about the body.

I learned once someone has a stroke, the damage in the brain always remains. However, the body is so resilient that the cells recruit other cells to overcompensate for the damaged areas.

One day my dad could start lifting his arm, the next day he was making a fist, and by the third day he had 90% of his strength back. What a wonderful reminder of the natural intelligence that lives in each one of us.

Time is the best gift we can give.

Living in a different city than my family makes it hard to see each other more frequently—the days are limited until I have to return to my fast-paced lifestyle. This time, I dropped everything and offered my full attention; it’s so wonderful to be able to share our time with someone we love.

More than cards, flowers or ‘get well’ balloons, my dad’s only wish was time together.

Giving is the best time we can receive.

As I continued to show up and offer love and support, I felt that love and support mirrored back ten-fold.

It’s true: the best time to receive is when we’re giving with no expectations in return. The gift of giving simply becomes a natural process of reflection between the giver and receiver.

Everything will always be ok.

In the midst of anxiety, exhaustion and sadness my wise step-mom continued to repeat this simple, yet powerful mantra.

At first, I questioned: Will it though?

But as she kept drilling these five words into my mind, it started to become the language of my inner voice, “Everything really will always be ok.”


Because part of the journey is accepting exactly where we are in this moment, in order to evolve and connect to our higher purpose.


Relephant Read:

Losing My Father Helped Me Open My Heart. 


Author: Ashley Rose Howard

Assistant Editor: Yoli Ramazzina / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Flickr/Mike Poresky

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Ashley Rose Howard