Years ago, someone in my family suffered a major brain injury because of a horse-riding accident.
She was vibrant and funny, sexy and smart, strong and sweet. The accident left her in a body that no longer listens to her commands. She has to inhabit a husk of her former self. She has short-term memory loss, her ability to communicate is a struggle, and she relies on everyone around her to see to her every need.
I don’t know about you, but I would sure as hell be wallowing in the biggest self-pity party there ever was if this happened to me or to someone in my immediate family.
Anyways, they all came to visit us this past weekend, her and her husband, the kids, my aunt and uncle and her mom. What fun it was to see them after so many years. We played at the beach, we feasted like kings, we laughed our butts off, we talked for hours and hours.
And so did she.
I marveled at how much a part of everything she was. (And why not? Like my daughter said: “She’s still a human being, Mom.”) She cracked jokes at the perfect moment, she played in the water, she enjoyed the delicious food.
She was continuously surrounded by love, by commitment and support. She was included in everything, as she should be.
What this weekend did for me was to bring to light a new understanding of commitment and the depth and strength of love. It kicked my ass a bit, since I have the habit of wallowing a bit in the “Woe is me’s” if life isn’t as perfect as I hope it could be. Money worries, minor marital crap, kid’s messy rooms all became so secondary as I realized with a funny feeling in my guts that in one moment, life could change forever, like it did for her.
Naturally, life’s minor irritations will still be that. But I think they will take on more of a minor status than a major one. And this family still deals with emotions so vast I could never truly understand it unless I was in the thick of it. I am sure they have tiny wishes of “What if?” in their hearts still dancing around. That anger and guilt and jealousy and grief still play a part of every day thoughts and sentiments. We are all human, of course, I could never deny anyone an honest and truthful human reaction to tragedy. But still, within all that, they celebrate such tiny moments that most people don’t stop to marvel at. A simple smile emanating from her face evoked joy in my heart like witnessing a newborn baby’s first smile. Her giddy joy in remembering my name gave me equal joy. Her hug goodbye was the sweetest embrace I have felt in a very long time.
I applaud her tenacity, I grieve her loss, I wish for her recovery or at least some more improvement. And I thank her for the light she shone upon my heart, and the pure love she gives so freely.