As time begins to slow down and I try to make sense of what has transpired and attempt to plan for the future, I am reminded by many not to forget about my own healing.
It’s a process that has helped me make many surprising discoveries about myself thus far. To begin with, I love to shoot guns. Over the weekend I gave myself 24 hours of total freedom. I went home to the country to celebrate the life of a very dear friend and I enjoyed a full day of catching up with some of my oldest and closest friends. I got an introductory lesson in skeet shooting, ran a 5K, and laughed more than I have in months. It was amazingly restorative.
When I returned to the hospital today to visit TC, I burst into tears. It wasn’t so much the guilt of being away for two days as it was the sadness of realizing how separate our lives have become. While I have incredible best friends I can call on in a moment’s notice, there is no one that can take the place of my partner – the person I shared each and every day with for the past 7 years. It feels weird to complain in this way because obviously TC is alive and making progress. But it’s not the same somehow. He can’t give me advice or fully understand my stories or help me when I need help. At the end of the day, it’s me – turning off the lights, locking the doors, taking out the dog.
I’m beginning to believe that I may learn more about myself through this experience than anything else. I feel like the same person, but I am wired into something new: an intense need for honesty and realness, a desire to unsubscribe from some of the norms and expectations set before, and a deeper appreciation for each hour and each day that I spend in the world.
I am healed by my son’s giggles and late night texts from friends. I silently rejoice in the perfect cup of coffee and the beautiful fall weather. I find solace in a clean kitchen or a finished household project. And I delight in the thought that a year from now I may not need to be so aware of all these restorative factors, that perhaps I’ll be so caught up in life that I won’t constantly recognize my own survival efforts.
On Friday I will attend the hearing of TC’s assailants and finally get to stare them down. I’m not investing a lot of energy into the legal proceedings because I trust they will unfold as they will. My energy is better spent elsewhere and on other endeavors. I’m sure I’ll be surprised by my reaction to sitting in the same room as these sick and despicable young people, but I will be strong.
In five weeks TC is scheduled to come home and, at last, we can heal together as a family. We will still have a lot of work to do. He won’t come home the same as before. He may not even be much different than he was today, in and out of awareness, still in a wheelchair, and in need of a lot of assistance. But life is surprising. And lately surprises have been good.