A Year in the Life

August is a big month for our family. Within a ten day span, I celebrate a birthday, we celebrate a wedding anniversary, and we mark the one-year “anniversary” (there has to be a better word than that, help??) of TC’s brain injury. It’s a month of quiet reflection, displays of love, and feelings of deep gratitude. There is nothing I am looking forward to more in the upcoming year than resuming normalcy. I love writing and I enjoy blogging and I hope to have time for both, but my biggest priority will be the health and wellness of our family. And we’ll just have to see how the rest plays out.

I often get asked why we’ve chosen to return to D.C. and the answer is complex. To begin with, it’s our home. It’s where our child was born, where we bought out first place, and where I enjoy a job that I love. We care deeply about our neighbors and friends here. They are wonderful people and they have worked enormously hard to protect us this year. But there are also drawbacks to staying. We don’t enjoy the notoriety that has accompanied this experience. It’s hard not to reminisce about our quiet life a year ago and envy the privacy we once enjoyed. But we accept the situation, acknowledge our own part in it, and will continue to try very hard to steer any public conversations toward the topics of brain injury and aphasia, which is where we believe the attention should be. 

The blog, which began as a way of updating friends and family about TC’s progress, spun a life of its own. Never did I intend to grieve or rejoice so publicly, because I never could have imagined how things would continue to change. I am a strong believer in the value of honesty, however. There will be many families who travel this journey after us. I have even had the pleasure of meeting a few already. It would be a disservice to all to pretend the road is paved in rainbows and daffodils. As a caregiver, I wanted to be prepared for the challenges ahead and reading other people’s experiences afforded me that opportunity. People need to know that it’s OK to be depressed from time to time. It’s OK to grieve things that are lost and for that process to be as messy, unusual, or heartbreaking as it might turn out to be. Likewise, people should know that dark feelings are not necessarily permanent and that one day, as it did for us, the heavy fog will likely rise. 

Before this year, I never knew so much goodness and generosity existed in the world. As the recipients of abundant kindness, TC and I still cope with awkward feelings about this. We’ll never feel completely deserving of what we’ve been given, but we do hope people know that we’ll spend the remainder of our lifetimes trying to pay it back. That is truly our responsibility now. 

However, and I don’t think I’m suggesting anything particularly provocative or novel here, I do believe the human race could be doing a whole better for one another. I pay a little closer attention these days to the tragedies in our world and I’m both appalled and shocked by the cruelty in people’s responses. We are so quick to judge a person’s character or situation based on a nugget of potentially accurate information. We accept secondhand knowledge as if it were concrete fact and we rarely follow the old adage of “putting one’s self in another’s shoes.” We see blatant injustice in front of our faces and we choose to look the other way. There is so much potential for kindness in our lives. And, as a whole, we’re simply not living up to it.

Life is complicated and ever evolving. I write now with the understanding that my opinions are subject to change at any time. But, as I try to unravel myself from the web of insanity that has characterized the past twelve months, I’d like to use the next year to not simply become unstuck, but to move forward. We can do better for ourselves and for each other, but it begins with honest self-reflection. We can afford to give more. We can afford to give more meaningfully. And I know, without doubt, that we are all strong enough to be more than who we are presently. I’d much rather spend my time on this planet advocating for compassion and kindness than perpetuating cycles of negativity and ignorance. So, I’m aiming high in the year ahead and I encourage others to do the same. Let’s make it happen.

7 thoughts on “A Year in the Life

  1. I always love your blog posts as they are so inspiring. This blog post is even more powerful for the fact that you are talking kindness and compassion despite all your experiences. Thank you for sharing your journey with us and for continuing to inspire others and for planting the seeds of kindness.

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  2. In the military, those who have had near death experiences celebrate their “alive day.” It’s so much more expressive than anniversary and is probably the right sentiment for TC.
    I’ve appreciated being able to virtually participate in your journey, especially as my husband and I have been struggling this year with his worsening mental illness and autism (and resulting difficulty speaking and remembering words). I get bogged down in what I miss about him, but I need to be looking more at the positives and the blessings than dwelling on what could have been. Here’s to aiming higher.

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  3. I love “Alive Day” – what a great sentiment. Cynthia, my heart is with you always. The good and the bad. And all that’s in between!

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  4. I am so very sorry for what your husband and your family have suffered this past year. As I read the WP story and then your blogs I couldn’t help but think how yoga could help you in your journey toward acceptance and your husband’s healing. Namaste.

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  5. I recently came across your blog, and I’ve spent nights on end reading your posts. I myself am going through a rough time in my life and reading your blog has given me so much inspiration and life. Tears of joy, and empathy roll down my face as I can only imagine what you must be going through, and how bravely you’ve overcome these obstacles and continue to do so. I wish you nothing but the best for you and your husband. I hope for nothing but the brightest and happiest future for you, TC, and your little one. We’re all here for you
    Best, Hope.

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  6. Abby I just read your story in my local paper. First I want to say that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Next I want to say don’t give up. It will be a long struggle but worth it in the long run. How do I know you may ask? My step dad suffered a stroke 5 years ago and he has afasia. He like TC was one of the smartest people I know. He was an accountant for many years before his stroke. After his stroke he made the same mistakes saying the wrong words and saying words that didn’t even make sense. Five years later he still struggles at times to speak, but we can hold a conversation even if sometimes he has to spell the words in the air. I won’t lie and say it isn’t frustrating to my mom at times dealing with someone you love change from this intelligent person to someone who can’t communicate at times. I always tell her imagine how frustrated it is for him when he can’t say what he wants to. As time goes on you and TC will learn to live with the changes in your life. Always remember God will never close one door without opening another.

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  7. You are a true inspiration, every time I visit your blog I am humbled by your ability to always look at the silver lining.
    Thank you for inspiring so many!

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