by Linda W. Arms, dated Jan. 15, 2014
Today is the 8 year anniversary of my brain injury. I know many of you have the date of your event noted as a “special day”. I understand that many military veterans injured in our recent wars, refer to it as “Alive Day”. From some of you, I’ve heard it referred to as your re-birthday, or new birthday. Some of you mourn and wear black. Recently, Gabriella Giffords, shot in the head a few years ago and who lives with brain injury, went sky diving on the anniversary of her injury to celebrate life. Her Facebook message on that day sounds familiar to so many of us with a brain injury, whatever its cause. She wrote: “I’ve overcome a lot. Progress has come from working hard. Today, I grieve, I remember, and I take another step.”
And that is where I am at today. Ironically and without having planned this, I am staying a few days with my husband in the small Colorado ski town I was visiting at the time of my accident. I have avoided this area for the last 8 years and have slowly made peace with returning. We decided yesterday, at the spur of the moment to come up here, forgetting about my anniversary. I was a little spooked once I remembered I would be up here in this same place on my “special” day but I decided I had to face it. In fact, this morning, I returned to the mountain and just looked up the hill where “The Accident” occurred. The morning was very much the same. There was that fresh layer of snow that had that special, beautiful sparkle caused by the morning sun reflecting off the individual snowflakes. I remembered that often after the accident and now I saw it again on the same day, around the same time. I wanted to cry, I felt sad and still do but I will not dwell on this. I have chosen to move forward and make the best of things as I’ve done for the last 8 years. It is the best thing to do. It is what it is and cannot be undone…
“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.” –Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” –C.S. Lewis
“We acquire the strengths of that which we have overcome.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
I particularly like something that Lt. Brad Snyder had to say in an NBC news article a couple of years ago. He said, “Choice – that word means a lot here. Choice puts everything on a level playing field. Each of us faces a plethora of daily choices – when to get up, what to eat for breakfast, what to say to your family before leaving for work. You can choose to be positive. Or you can choose to be a victim. You can choose to move forward with grace. Or you can choose to succumb to negativity.”
So as you begin your new year of 2014 and whenever the anniversary of your brain injury event arrives, remember that we have to move onward and be the best we can be. It is often difficult. We will have setbacks. But as we all look back to where we came from since our injury, most of us can see that we are better. The journey we’ve had has made us stronger in many ways. I know when I look back and all I’ve been through, I realize how strong I’ve been. I don’t want to forget that. I want to remind myself about how far I’ve come. Recognizing this strength helps me as I face new challenges in life.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do no just happen.” — Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross
Happy “New Year” and now I will go out to enjoy the beautiful Colorado mountains by walking (or maybe snowshoeing) through the woods, enjoying life and continuing my journey to get even better.