Aunt Carrie passed away yesterday morning, May 28, 2015. I am so thankful that I took time to visit her hospital room on Tuesday evening. Rest in peace, sweet lady, rest in peace. After I got home from the hospital, I posted the following letter:
Dear Aunt Carrie,
I know you did not see me; your eyes you did not open. I didn't bring a card; I didn't leave a trace of even being in your room. I came to visit you today. Satisfied with sitting here quietly, in the chill of your room, reflecting on my own personal memories of you.
The first memory I have of you was actually before we ever met. I never imagined my wedding dress would be made by, virtually, a stranger to me. I knew that you were a terrific seamstress and I had found a combination of two designs I liked, purchased the goods needed and you created me a beautiful wedding dress, with a cape instead of a veil. With only my body measurements, you put together a winning combination for our special day. You even made my fiance' a bow tie to match my wedding outfit. The Topper, for me, was that you made wrist grips on my cape, ingenious, I might add.
When our loved ones can no longer communicate, I often wonder, are they suffering? Are they at peace? It's so difficult when they can't speak. I uttered my curiosity, kind of under my breath, and wasn't aware a nurse was in the room. Her response was not what I wanted to hear, of course. She said that likely, in this state, they probably are in pain but, often cannot express it.
I shared a few memories with the nurses who checked on you. I saw movement in your hands and movement in your unopened eyes. Being reminded that the hearing is the last thing to go, I have the solace of knowing, you are aware I was here ... and, you will know, when I come again.
I pray for comfort from your physical pain and peace ... your inner peace, peace between family members during such a difficult time, with thanks for knowing you, your grace and love you've shown me over the years.
I love you. ~nrl
It's not always about just 'sports' . . .
When I posted the links about Scott Baldwin's passing the other day on my Twitter page, it was less about his passing, and more about the incident involving Gina Simanek. For me, Baldwin's passing reminds me of her, and my own personal brain injury.
For me, this is more about brain injuries, than it is Scott's death. Gina and I were both employed at the Lincoln Journal Star. Gina was a quiet, almost painfully shy, person. Being an introvert, she kept to herself much of the time.
One of the first conversations we had, on a personal level, I discovered she was not just a graphics person, but also did some fine arts. That is what really bonded the two of us, as my spouse was also a painter/artist.
As life sometimes plays out, Gina and I ended up having much more in common than just graphics and art.
I remember when she told me where she lived, I was concerned. I'd been told it had a reputation of not being one of the better neighborhoods in Lincoln. Then my biggest fear about where she lived, came knocking on her door - so to speak.
I don't recall the circumstances surrounding the horrible news of Gina and her dog being beaten into unconsciousness. However, I do remember my heart sinking to my feet, and the lump in my throat that dissolved into tears. Just knowing that she and her dog were beaten was enough, but hearing the severity of their injuries was yet, more devastating!
In the past, Gina and I had talked intimately about my own personal brain injury. And now, here I was, watching a co-worker experience one - even more devastating than my own experience, from way back in my 20s.
My brain injury? Well, I was preparing to attend a Moody Blues/Jefferson Airplane concert at the new Inglewood Forum (I lived only a few blocks away). Feeling claustrophobic in the crowd, I passed out and, from what I recall being told, I had a seizure incident and it took 3 men to hold me down. I ended up with a "Y" in the back of my head, with 33 stitches to close up my injury.
Some time after this incident, southern California had a big earthquake, and I decided to move back to the midwest. When I came back, I did no follow-up. I just figured it happened, I was sewn up, and . . . life goes on. I did notice right away, my personality had changed and I was not the same person as the one who went down that night. I have spent all my life trying to live in the same body, with a different psyche (mental condition).
Here I sit, all these years later, and it's as if my life is coming full circle. Now I have a few loved ones who have recently endured brain injuries. I am re-living my own brain injury. It is very interesting to look at it, from this stage in my life.
Here I go; I am having more epiphanies, yet again. I know I need to extend grace to those who are having personality/brain changes - mainly because I see now that, in my past, many have (unknowingly, perhaps) extended me grace. I guess what I mean is most people have loved me anyway, in spite of myself ... at least with those who were aware of my injury. Then there are those who have never known about my brain injury who have just think I'm 'different', 'odd', 'strange', or 'weird'. And, I thank them.
After Gina's recovery, she did come back to work for a time. Eventually, we both went our separate ways. Just a couple of years ago now, Gina and I re-connected. She did all the right stuff. She had follow-up, she had therapy, etc. She moved away from area temporarily and finished getting her college education. Gina now works with brain injury people. I'm so proud of how she took command of her life, and is truly moving on.
Who is this little girl?
I am . . .