Having spent the last week working with victims of brain injuries, I’ve come to a lot of understandings about my own life. You see, a little over a year ago, my life as I knew it ended. A series of circumstances culminated in me losing just about everything in my life, save my son and immediate family. My safety, happiness, dignity, and sanity were swept up in the detritus. In the days and months and year that followed, I watched a lot of people just walk out of my life with nary a look backward.
Not to compare the intensity of what I went through with what these accident victims have gone through, but in a lot of ways, I really do understand. One of my trainers commented to my group, “You wouldn’t believe how many divorce papers I’ve had to deliver to patients.” Having been through my own relatively minor traumas (Although, to me, they are major), I really do believe it. I know exactly how it feels to have people I love walk out on me. I lost one of my closest friends. Then I lost my marriage. Just about everything else followed.
But then I see the patients whose friends and families have absolutely rallied around them and it warms my heart a bit. Yesterday, one of the patients had some friends and family visiting from up north for a fundraiser for people with brain injuries. Seeing just how loving and dedicated this patient’s friends and family are was really quite touching. It made me think of the people who really had my back when my life fell apart. My parents. Discotrash. My sister. Ricky and Kim. Not to mention the dozen or so other friends who’ve stuck by me and helped me out when I needed help the most the last year or so.
Ultimately, I guess that I’ve really learned the lesson that you never know who your friends really are until you’ve hit rock bottom. But it’s one thing to know of the lesson, and it’s another thing to experience it. I’ve experienced it. The patients I’m working with now have experienced it. I’m hoping it gives me some sort of perspective on what they’re going through and makes me a better worker. And maybe, just maybe, a better person.