“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May”—William Shakespeare
The long month of May is rapidly moving toward the 23rd, the date that two years ago, our lives moved into a totally different sphere. It’s also Friday tomorrow…THE Friday. We used to count Fridays to know how long Vernon had been in the hospital.
I remember the night of the accident, when the neurosurgeon told my dad and me that if he held on through the first phases, he could be there as long as two months before starting recovery. He ended up in the hospital longer than that…and recovery is still haphazard, at best. But when I heard that, I thought: “NO WAY! Not this guy. There’s no way we can handle that length of time.” I get goosebumps thinking how different a human I was then, before we found we COULD tolerate a long time waiting for him to get better. But I also remember the other thing the doctor told me: “Let’s see if we can get him through the night first.” I don’t remember how many surgeries he had that night, but they weren’t done for ten hours.
“Ten hours?” I scoff at my old self. “What’s ten hours?” A lot to my pre-brain injury self, apparently. Because I remember how impossibly long that sounded at the time. Nothing is impossible.
Then, seven months later, the kids and I moved to the actual street where the accident occurred. It just happened that way…we didn’t mean to. Fridays were even more significant as we crossed Vernon’s ground zero on the way to school. I thought it was a poetic move, forcing us to face our trauma every day. I still feel that way. But after a while, the Fridays became muddled, and we couldn’t remember how many weeks it had been…we started counting months.
And now after this weekend, we can count in years. Like it is with growing babies, only the youngest are counted in weeks…then months, then halves and years. Eventually we just stop counting and move to half decades to celebrate any significance…then only the decades themselves. But I can’t look that far ahead yet. We are still in mere years…and lucky to get this far.
If we get to three years, I’ll no doubt look back at this as early days. But my psyche can’t ignore it. May has been a significant month all year. It’s like a big birthday you know is coming many months before. It just hangs there, looming, waiting for its turn to arrive, with all its good and its bad. It’s like April with taxes. I’m happy to say we have lots of good things packed into our Mays now, things to look forward to, happy moments are always strewn through our lives together—we make a point of making them or at least noticing them. BUT that doesn’t make it a non-stressful time.
The closer we get to the 23rd (or tomorrow, the Friday) I find myself increasingly stressed out, intensely feeling emotions and even physical movements, thinking too much, tightly bound like a little brussel sprout. This darling bud of May is a bitter root vegetable, not to everyone’s taste, not even my own. Here we are, in the prime of the year—days away from our date—and I find my body does have a clock. Or my soul or mind or pysche, whatever…it all seems to be connected to this time. These things can’t ignore the season, the passing of days. Concentric circling to this one weekend.
Feeling all this increasingly, I put out a post on Facebook this morning: “Really struggling to go toward this weekend. It’s been a long and significant month, May. Monday is the 23rd, which will mark two years since Vernon ‘left’ us. I am having a difficult time with moments of anxiety and loneliness, they are getting worse by the day. Can’t wait till the 24th, maybe I’ll feel less crazy.”
I didn’t write that to get response but rather to give the pressure words so I could let it go. And yet, I got the most wonderful response from friends. Prayer and self-care were the main messages back to me. I take those things to heart. And there must have been increased love and prayers coming my way because I certainly feel differently now than I did this morning—or even the weeks leading up to this. I feel peaceful and positive, and it didn’t take long to turn things around.
One gift we got today was that Chris Adams, Vernon’s good buddy, and Sarah, his business partner (and a family friend of ours), offered to drive up with me today. My appointment with my attorney had bottomed out again, making me feel abandoned by the legal system meant to protect us (not for the first time.) Chris offered to drive my car, which made the day immediately better: its a treat to be the passenger. Vernon had already exercised for the day so we were free to take him outside and just hang out for a bit. I couldn’t tell how much Vernon recognized his old friend from memory, but his eyes lit up. “Oh YEAH,” he said as he shook Chris’ hand. “I think I remember you. I know I LIKE you. You are cool.” I just love how Vernon’s soul is on the surface at times. He knows. He gets it. He recognizes what is real even if he doesn’t have the words or the context or the details to help him.
As soon as we pulled him up to an outside table and the other two had sat down around him, he started with: “Okay, guys…” as if to say, now we are here, what are we going to talk about?” I’d never seen him respond so mindfully and clearly. I told him it was nice to have company. “Well, sometimes,” he said. “It’s nice having THIS company.”
Look at him, looking like one of the cool kids. You’d never know something was wrong. I think today for him maybe it did feel like nothing was wrong for a bit…though he did admit to his friends that he never gets to eat (how terribly annoying.) When he’s had a good day, I’ve had a good day. I think we both needed that!
One more sleep till Friday! Four till the 23rd. We’re getting there—more gracefully than I ever thought we could.