“Guardianship: One Step Closer To Solid Ground”

When Patrick suffered his TBI, it was as if a great chasm opened up between us, that was filled with a dense, thick, fog that seemed all at once unnavigable. We were stranded on either sides of it, unable to see each other. This is TBI in its most acute phase, and how it feels sometimes even now, 20 months later.

For almost two years we have worked together to forge a bridge back to the each other. Every day we’ve laid down wooden planks, and taken a step, into the fog, not knowing how high up we were, or how far we had to go to touch each other. As the days passed, the fog has lifted, and slowly cleared, and every day it seems it clears a little more, and we can build the bridge faster. TBI is an incredibly difficult, tedious, arduous amount of hands-on labor, and doing this work has made us into different people than we were before. But we’ve done it, and though there is still some fog around us, we’ve built that bridge back to each other, and step-by-step we walk together now, on our way back to solid ground.

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Finding our way back to each other….

Today, we took a step that we have been working towards for a very long time. It’s taken months of cutting through red-tape, assessments, evaluations, appointments and proceedings. But today, we went to court. Today, I became Patrick’s legal guardian. 

I cannot express to any of you the fierceness with which I love Patrick. I loved him at 15 as a young girl loves a young boy in high school for the first time; hopelessly, fully, openly, and foolishly. I loved him as grown woman at 30 loves a grown man; deeply, passionately, richly and with immense gratitude. And then, when he suffered his TBI, I loved him as a mother loves a child; fiercely protective, patiently, and full of pride, and amazement. I feel that my love for him is extremely unique, as I have loved him in so many different stages of his life, growth and development. Not many women will ever feel a fierce maternal love mixed with romantic love, that is simultaneously rooted in friendship. There are so many petals in this love; our beautiful blue light for which our blog is named. 

So, it was a very emotional day for me. The magnitude of not only what I was “officially” taking on, but how long I had fought for Patrick, and how far we had come, overwhelmed me. I’ve always been envious of my fellow girlfriends, who are mothers and spouses to their TBI survivors. Being next of kin grants them a peace of mind that I never knew before today. When Patrick was first hurt, as non-blood/non-wife, I had zero say or rights to make any decisions on behalf of his care. Processing his injury and the gravity of my loss was so soul-crushing, that I almost couldn’t breathe at any given moment. But watching decisions made on his behalf, and having to remain silent or mouse-like at best, in fear I would be shut-out, was far worse.

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Grief is a bitch.

Standing in the court room, I listened to the lawyer representing Patrick speak with great candor about him, her observations of us together, and then about me. She talked about how unusual our case was, representing only 3% of all guardianship cases. She spoke of how much our love had moved her, and how she wanted to waive her fee as a result of the way it had impacted her. I felt time and space suspend as she spoke, flashing back to before Patrick’s TBI; a quirky memory of us cooking brussel sprouts together in the kitchen. And then the judge began to speak about incapacitation, and read the reports from the doctors. Patrick reached for my hand, squeezed it, and then it brought to his mouth for a kiss. And in that moment, everything felt surreal, and I couldn’t believe, (all over again), that he had become injured, that he was missing half of his skull, that this had happened to us, and that the man who had spun circles around me most of my life with a wild, unstoppable, creative (yet destructive), fiercely sharp energy, now needed a guardian.

But then I thought, it seemed not so odd after all. Patrick had always needed a guardian even before his TBI. And I’d always been trying to protect him, mostly from himself, but also from the cruelty of the world. Now he needed a guardian to protect himself mostly from the world, and only slightly from himself. Though everything had changed, in some ways, nothing had at all.

Then suddenly, I was abruptly brought back to reality, as I heard my name called. “Ms. Granieri,” he asked, “have you anything you would like to say?” 

The room was quiet. The lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants in the back of the room rustled in their seats. It was painfully quiet.

I stood up.

“Yes, your honor..” I swallowed. “All I want to say is that I love Patrick. I have loved him all of my life. I only want what is best for him, and to protect him. I fiercely want to be able to do that, and to be his guardian.”

The judge paused.

“I see. Well, I must say, that is… very admirable, Ms. Granieri. But do you understand the fullness of your responsibilities as guardian? Do you understand what you are taking on?”

I smiled.

“Yes, your honor. I do. And with all due respect, I am only today seeking that the law recognize my position and title as guardian, which is something I have been doing for almost two years. I understand the responsibilities, because I’ve been bearing them for some time.” 

He smiled.

He began to talk in legal speak, about how he had determined that Patrick was incapacitated, and I would be guardian. I took a moment to glance back at the room, and saw several of the lawyers dabbing their eyes. I looked over at Patrick’s lawyer and she too was misty-eyed. Their reactions to the energy that Patrick and I were putting out there, caused me to well up too.

 

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On our way out of the courthouse, we got caught in a summer rainstorm. And as we got in the car and turned on the radio, Patrick turned to me and said, “What’s next, my guardian?” We both laughed. It seemed silly to think of Patrick as my “ward”, and me as his “guardian.” And yet, it was one more important step we needed to take; to have legal protection over our relationship.

One step closer on the bridge. On step closer to solid ground as hopefully the fog continues to lift.

One step further.

Together.

Discussion

Comments

5 Comments

  1. Donna

    hi anj congratulations on your guys step forward with the system now won’t you get some funds for helping to care for Patrick?No one realizes how costly everything is and how little money we are expected to live on.its terrible.i follow you all the time you are so lucky to have each other .that is one thing I’m having quite a hard time with my soul mate pass away unexpectedly so now I’m all alone with my dogs my kids come when they can.i have injuries and can’t work don’t live in town and quite a way from the large town where there’s anything to do I’m trying to move over there but didn’t get that great of a settlement so need to be very careful with what I have so it will last me the rest of my life.i am so lonely need to do something.so I understand how this feels like a giant goal has been accomplished and it has! gives me strength to try harder tomorrow! Keep up the fight! You’re an inspiration!

    • Anj Granieri

      Donna thank you for your beautiful comment! We do receive a small amount of $ from the government for his disability, food stamps and a small check for a utility bill. Mostly I just support Patrick and am blessed that though i don’t make a killing, I make enough to get us through. I try to save for the rainy days that TBI promises. I’m sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. If you belong to a church we have found great support and comfort there. If you do not, I recommend a support group where people understand your injuries. Love and light to you!

  2. Karen

    This is a great “win” for you two to have the formal protection of guardianship. Does is increase your government support any? Was his family involved and did they fight this? Does he see his family or is that a difficult situation? How does this affect any benefits that would normally go toward supporting his daughter, or is that just not a factor? You said this had been an ongoing effort for a very long time — I guess I’d like to know more about all the red tape if you can share it. Good for you being so persistant!

    • Anj Granieri

      Karen,

      I’ll do my best to answer your questions. Being guardian does not increase government support. It simply gives me the ability to make decisions on Patricks behalf concerning medical and financial decisions, and protects Patrick from being taken advantage of by others. We make the decisions together as a couple anyway, and that won’t change, but if he were ever in a situation again similar to his brain injury where he could not speak for himself, it would give me the right to speak for him. Guardianship is as much in our case a protection for Patrick as it is for me, again as a non family member. Without guardianship I could come under scrutiny for how his small income is spent, and decisions I am making on his behalf, and again, doctors would not acknowledge my requests medically if Patrick could not speak for himself.

      His family was not involved in the process of guardianship, except that they all conceded to it and did not contest me becoming guardian.

      The circumstances surrounding his family are very complicated and difficult and I’d rather not discuss them publically. At this time he has not see any immediate family members in some time.

      Guardianship also does not effect his daughter. Disabled individuals are granted social security and their offspring as given a small monthly income as well.

      As for the red tape, guardianship is like any other legal process, a lengthy procedure. I had to file a complaint, meet with a lawyer, and a report needed to be filed. Patrick had to undergo testing and more reports filed by doctors. We had to wait for those appointments- in one case 3 months. Then Patricks lawyer interviews him, and I, and all other interested parties. Then the complaint is processed and a report from both lawyers is sent in. Then a date in court is scheduled which was rescheduled by the judge 3x. Then we go before the judge and the lawyers represent me and Patrick. Then in this case, I became guardian.

      Hope that helps.

      • Karen

        You have been through so much. Congratulations on this victory. I had no idea how complicated all that is. Hugs to you.

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