Yesterday marked five years since “Heaven sent a hurricane” in the form of our eldest daughter, Jessica, sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury. Every year, since that dramatic day, has brought something a little different. Celebration of her survival (year one), gratitude for the people who stood by us in our deepest and darkest hour (year two), freedom with growing independence (year three) and coming full circle with completing our book and preparing it for publication (year four).
I think my Co-Mom Libby summed up this year quite well: “I feel like today is maybe a better measure of the New Year than January 1st, all things considered. In that respect, happy fifth New Year, may it be ever filled with happiness and prosperity and hope; I know that regardless of whatever else it will be filled with love.”
This resonated well with me, as I reflected on the past five years, and more recently, the past six months.
Over the past six months, I’ve been struggling to shake off the cloak of grief and depression that has surrounded me since our family’s trauma. I have been trying to be more engaged and deliberate with my weekly therapy, joined a spiritual growth intensive, and began seeing a “self-care” counselor. I’ve also rejoined outside activities like those I was involved in before Jessica’s accident. I have been able to be more active on the PTA at Jocelyn’s school, as well as in activities at our church. In fact, I have been voted in for board positions for both of those for the coming year.
Yet, while this awakening is a good place to be, I am seeking a new balance. For the past five years, I have distracted myself from my emotions with food, sleeping, iPhone games and Netflix binge-watching, and these days I am immersing myself in school activities, church groups, social activities and the organization of our life.
I am working to calibrate the energy I put into outside endeavors vs. the energy I put into myself. I am ready to once again work toward the health of myself, my family, my community and the world. And I am grateful to be in a position to be able to manifest that into reality.
When Libby checked in with me later, asking how the day was treating me, I told her: “A little weird. Just . . . off. I’ve been in a crazy transitional time for a couple of weeks now, so it’s weird.”
I’d slept in, had Starbucks for breakfast, gotten a pedicure and was in the process of getting a tattoo when she and I were messaging back and forth.
“It’s one of those surreal moments: Really? Five years? So weird. I’ve slept through so much of the past five years, it’s hard to adjust to being awake. It’s a lot of work.”
And as the day crept on, getting closer to the hour of the accident, my heart opened up a bit, the tears began falling, and I was transported back to the moment our lives changed. At 1:45, we pulled into the barn. Approximately ten minutes later, the ambulance drove onto the scene. At 2:08 we were pulling away.
As I remembered the sirens and pulling onto the freeway, speeding to the hospital, I texted my forever-friend, Kari, with a line from “Home is Where the Heart is” by Peter, Paul, and Mary: “You are the string on my kite, you guide me into the wind. Thank you for coming when I called.”
Then with the tattoo done, I formulated the rest of my day. I went to Lush then to the local metaphysical store. Energy work done, and candle bought, I headed home to meet Jesse and the girls for dinner.
Later, as I sat on the bed, folding Jessica’s laundry, passing on too-small pairs of socks to Jocelyn and putting too-small pairs of pants in the garage sale box, instead of feeling the usual nostalgia and sadness of the past five years, I felt the tide turn a little bit more.
And as Jessica came walking out of her bedroom, her walker sitting in another part of the house, I once again felt that hope. . . that magic . . . the certainty I felt when she and I were lying in the dirt.
“You will be fine.”
We will be fine.
New Year, indeed.