I wish I had more to report from my visit with Vernon today, but since he was a little sick (a bit of cold an nausea, nothing serious, just uncomfortable) I can only say that he handles these things with a newfound gentlemanly flair. No, its not newfound… more like amplified. I love it, though I feel bad that he felt bad today.
Isn’t it wild that its New Year’s Eve again? Time usually flies, but for us, this year slooooowed down big time. I suppose that’s a gift in many ways. Don’t we all want to slow down time, especially as we get older? I learned to survive/thrive by living in the present moment, not looking too far into the future. And I hope it becomes a long term practice. Life seems to last longer that way, you get more out of it. It feels as if I got at least two years worth out of this one. Of course Vernon probably thinks its still summer, he missed a lot of months. So again, we balance each other out…like the quintessential married couple.
This past week has been more emotionally charged than usual. The other day, a friend sent me a link to a facebook page made by the family of a young man who had been hit by a car on Christmas Eve. It was a hit-and-run, and apparently, the frightened driver didn’t return to the scene to alert 911 for a half hour. They haven’t said that made a difference to the outcome, but I’m guessing it played a part. The young man had multiple fractures and brain trauma. The family pulled together in vigil for him, and they posted his updates on social networks, not unlike we did in the early days of Vernon’s coma. It was amazing to see read the responses of friends and strangers pulling together to pray and send heartfelt thoughts to this man and his family. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode…experiencing a similar story to ours from a different vantage point. The shock, the intensity, the ticking moments, the peace/panic combo, the faith, the worry. I don’t even know these people and yet I cried for them all week. I felt what they were going through and wished I could be a help, but I knew I couldn’t ….just like people couldn’t help me by telling me their stories in the early day: all I could see was Vernon’s story.
But this week, I felt a shift. I saw that these are the kinds of stories I will be attracted to for a long time. Stories of accidents and traumatic brain injuries. A corner had been turned, and now I realize I am the experienced one while I watch others suffer under a cloud of fear and unknowing. Its a relief to not be in that state anymore…not in that raw shock and anxiety. Wishing and praying and believing against the odds that your loved one will make it. I thought about this man and family every day and cried for them, realizing I was also feeling some of my own hidden pain from this summer.
And just as I got caught up in philosophizing all this, knowing without a doubt I’d be watching this young man recover as if I was watching a time-warp of Vernon’s own recovery, cheering him on as if we were all in some disturbing TBI relay, he passed away. The damage was too much. The collective HOPE wasn’t enough. He was only 28.
Some people make it, some people don’t. None of us know why… we can pound our fists or talk circles around the subject, but we don’t get much closer to knowing.
I watch these stories and feel confused because I’m happy Vernon survived…I feel like we won the lottery! But I hurt so much for those who didn’t. I can feel their pain more than I ever might have before, because these stories make me realize what a miracle it is that Vernon survived at all. I don’t think I’ve wrapped my head around that one yet.
It really hurts to feel a touch of other’s pain, but I don’t think its a bad thing. Empathy…doesn’t it grow our hearts too? It is healthy to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.
This was supposed to be a grateful reflection on New Years Eve, but apparently I had to get a few other thoughts off my chest first. And I am grateful, I just don’t feel HAPPY and grateful. Do they have to be mutually inclusive?
I do wish a Happy NEW YEAR to everyone reading this. I’m sure it will be an interesting one, if you are open to that kind of thing. 🙂 And maybe even if you aren’t! We look forward to growing as a family and in all of our relationships. Thank you to all who have been a tremendous support to us…whether vocal or shy. Our family feels the love, its been amazing. Love is truly all around. It’s good and its powerful, even if we don’t know the outcome of our stories. It is in LOVE that I plan to go on…whatever happens. I wish that for you too!
Bring on 2015.