Monday, November 7, 2011

Three years ago, yesterday

And this year I feel quiet. Not as prone to public weeping, but filled with a sort of bone deep sadness. Reflecting on the losses we've undergone and continue to live with.

Two years is the magic mark in traumatic brain injury, the window of time when you can expect to see the most improvements. Three years feels a bit more resigned, a settling in, an attempt to accept, to figure out solutions, to find a way to reknit our lives, to come to terms with the person Dave is now while still loving and mourning the person we lost. Dave still needs full time care, will always need it, and the burden falls almost entirely on my mom, which concerns me more than I know how to say. This is the year we need to regroup and make plans for the present and the future.

The part I don't like to admit, even to myself, is that it's easy for me to resent the new Dave, to feel as if he has somehow stolen away the person I loved so dearly. I imagine that if I threw a big enough tantrum he would stop pretending to be this new person and come back to us the way he was. I revert to being a child, stamping my foot over an uncooperative parent, angry in the futile way of children.

And then I feel guilty, because we are lucky and I can see glimpses of the old Dave and sometimes he remembers to tell me he loves me, and he means it. We love each other, not because we are a family. We are a family because we love each other, because we share these years and moments and experiences.

And within it all, still, there are moments of joy, bursts of the kind of love that make you want to squeeze someone so tightly that your jaw clenches up.


dance with dave
{dancing with dave at my wedding - photo from melissa}

We are complicated beings.


I'm taking a few days away, back next week with piles of wedding stuff. It's time.


11/14 - ETA - I can't thank you guys enough for your comments and emails and general support last week. It means so much to me and my family. My heart goes out to all of you dealing with similar situations, truly.

40 comments:

  1. I remember the moving post you wrote last year vividly. Take your time, we'll be here.

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  2. as a newer reader i went back and read your previous entries - stunning writing. stunning picture in this post. i hope your week goes smoothly.

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  3. i really can't believe it's been three years. your love for your family is so evident in all the practical ways you've cared for them (the meals cooked, the many weekend trips to o.c., the hospital stays, etc.) and i know i've only seen the very tip of the iceberg. i'm simply humbled.

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  4. you are a beautiful writer...in this busy world not a lot stops me in my tracks as your post did today. my thoughts are with you & your family at this sad 3rd year anniversary of a time that changed your families life. dayle

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  5. Three years? Already? Sending love.

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  6. What a beautiful post. I do know what it feels like to 'lose' someone and then to be so grateful to have only a little piece of them back with you but sad when it's not all of them. But that's when I realized, like you, how lucky I was to even have that little part of them back. Cherish those moments. Sending you hugs from Australia.

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  7. You are such a beautiful writer. You will be in my thoughts today. Have a lovely few days off.xxx

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  8. thank you. your loving, honest writing resonates and matters more than you will ever know. kathi

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  9. I can still remember reading your post last year and learning about your story. Thought a lot about you then, and am thinking of you now. Beautiful picture. Xo

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  10. I'm at a loss for words; your posts about Dave have always moved me, but this year moreso. My mother has had a severe decline in her health this past year, and the way that you describe the process of celebrating/expressing anger in your past posts pretty well summed up how I feel.

    So, among other things, thank you.

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  11. Sending you a million hugs. I cannot imagine, and I don't pretend to know. Thank you for sharing your imperfect yet beautiful process. xo

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  12. I'm so sorry Rachel. My dad had a cancerous brain tumour a few years ago and big personality changes occurred as well. I also hated sometimes the person it made him become... but there were definitely loveable moments as well. Thinking of you. xo.

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  13. Beautiful posts about a painful process. Take your time and know this faithful reader will be happy upon your return. Sending good thoughts to you.

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  14. Sending all my love to you!! Just take your time..

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  15. This was such a beautiful, honest and exquisite testament to the human spirit. Your honesty is heartbreaking and inspiring at once.

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  16. I am sending you lots of love and light at this difficult time.
    You write beautifully. Thank you for sharing this.
    Much love, Bailey from Vanilla Blonde

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  17. I'm a new reader and just read your story. I'm so, so sorry :(
    I'm sending you a lot of strength and love from Switerland and hope your week is going to be okay.

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  18. I loved that moment at the wedding. So sweet.

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  19. Your writing and thoughts are so beautiful, as sad as they are. This thought is my favorite: "We love each other, not because we are a family. We are a family because we love each other, because we share these years and moments and experiences." Sending good thoughts your way.

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  20. Sending bunches of love your way. It takes an enormous amount of courage to share this story with the world.
    Much love,
    Anacristina

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  21. I just recently starting reading your blog. I stumbled upon it while googling things for my upcoming wedding. I love your writing, your pictures, everything about your blog. When I saw today's post, being a new reader, I was a bit confused. I looked back to your previous posts and when I clicked my way back to the blog on Dave's accident tears came to my eyes. I lost my step-father to a motorcycle accident a little over a year ago. He died instantly when he was hit by another driver, it was shocking and difficult, and I miss him dearly, especially when thinking about my wedding day. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  22. I'm a newish reader and have commented only once before. But I wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I followed the links back and read the other posts. I don't want to make you feel worse by sharing my story because you don't need to hear it. But I understand how you feel; I have had those same feelings over an illness that my mom is going through. She is here, but she is not the same. It's so strange to see someone else put your thoughts and feelings into words - and that is what you have done for me. So thank you for that. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts - hang in there.

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  23. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been weeping a ton reading your posts about Dave, also since I am watching my grandmother slip away into Alzheimer's and it is so true about wanting to resent them, to scream and hope you can "wake them up".

    I will be sending you good thoughts (and kick-ass vibes).

    Aisha

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  24. Just wow. Thank you so much for your honesty, I imagine I would feel much the same about jolting them back to themselves. Big hugs to you and yours. <3

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  25. Dave pops into my head every so often and when he does, I make sure to send some happy thoughts his (and your family's) way. This photo has me all kinds of weepy. Hugs and hugs and hugs to you all. xoxoxo

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  26. it is so lovely to know you, rachel.

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  27. As a more recent follower of your beautiful posts, I don't yet know Dave. But I'm touched beyond the need to know more...I hear your heart, and have a deep compassion for what a person/family experiences with a brain injured loved one. Beautifully written and a tribute to love. Enjoy some time off, and I will look forward to wedding pictures! Debra

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  28. you, my dear, are a beautiful human being. grateful to know you. here's to much love, patience, and moments of great joy.
    xo

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  29. I am going to admit that I couldn't read this whole post, though I know it's beautiful. I recall your post last year and it made me cry. I cried for you and then I cried because in a way I feel similar. Due to many issues, my Dad is not the same guy he used to be. I feel I hardly know the new man he is now and I find I am finding it hard to remember the man he used to be.
    Since I recalled last year's post, when I started to read this one, I wasn't able to make it through the 2nd paragraph. And then I scrolled down and saw the photo and choked up.
    My thoughts are with you and your family.

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  30. This post really hit home for me. My mom got a brain injury when I was 10 and has never been the same - it's a hard road, loving a ghost who occasionally reappears. Wishing you lots of peace.

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  31. So beautifully written and the sentiment pitch perfect. There is never a false note on your blog. Thinking of you. xox

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  32. Wow, I had no idea. I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago while trying to plan my own wedding.

    My stepdad experience TBI about a year and half ago so I know EXACTLY how you feel. My mom also takes the brunt of caring for him and it's tough to watch her struggle with it and not being able to fix it for her.

    Our wedding was two weeks ago and just after he was released from inpatient rehab for the second time. So, he was finally well enough to make the trip to walk me to the alter. It was awesome but I do really miss the person we'll never get back but thankful to still have him in my life.

    In a nutshell, I feel ya sista. Good luck to you and your family.

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  33. Thinking of Dave, you, and all the others who love him. I can't imagine how tough it must be to be so conflicted, grateful to still have someone you care so much about but to have them not be the same person you alway knew. Good luck to all of you as your healing journeys continue.

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  34. This is so hard... full of complicated and mixed emotions, guilt, blame, joy, relief. It can't be easy at all. Thank you for being so honest - it's a side that isn't often told.

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  35. My best friend, Jeff, suffered TBI in a motorcycle accident years ago. At the time, I was married to him. We split (for different reasons), but remained best friends. Sadly, we lost him (because of something having nothing to do with the TBI), but I will never forget the years following the accident - the full-time care, the changes, the heartache and learning. We are all so delicate on so many levels. My heart goes out to you, your family, and Dave.

    Melissa

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