One year ago today, on November 8th, 2013… I was about to stake claim on my life long dream. I was in Los Angeles, California at the annual TAXI Music Convention among my artistic comrades. I had arrived one day prior, with my brand new record, “The Giant Unquiet” fresh off the press in my possession, a handful of meetings with record executives lined-up, and a 2003 Roadtrek RV waiting for me in Indiana, (which I’d be flying at the end of the weekend to pick up and drive home). I had sold all my belongings a few months prior, moved out of my apartment, and raised enough money to buy my new home on wheels. My new blog, SeeSirenGo.com was launched, I had tour dates across the country lined up, and I was ready to finally live the dream. I truly felt invincible.
But I woke up on the 8th…with that feeling stolen from me. I had an unshakeable, heavy, dark feeling within me. As the hours passed, it got so bad, so intense, that I went upstairs to laid down. I couldn’t shake Patrickfrom my mind. I called him, but he didnt answer. By 8 p.m PST, I knew he was hurt, but I told myself I was being silly. Still, I called his aunt, for a reason I can’t say, and when she answered the phone, her voice was pregnant… I still shudder to think of the tone of her voice as she said my name.
I heard her say “patrick. I heard her say “accident.” I heard her say “brain-dead”.
If you’ve ever been in shock, then you know how it feels to be temporarily unable to function. She hung up, and I sat in the hotel and suddenly had no idea why I was there. I sat there unaffected for a few moments, and disassociated. Then I started to crash. I called my sister. I remember how normal she sounded at first when she answered; she kept saying my name unaware that I couldn’t speak, and it was jarring. I texted my girlfriends at the Rally “S.O.S”. I remember that. I wandered out of the hotel room, and the convention in full friday-night buzz, made me have an out-of-body experience. The lights, the clinking of glasses, the laughter, the energy of possibility, the jam-sessions… i was walking but didn’t know how… and I felt like I was in a horror movie. My friend Alyse found me… she spent quite a bit of time with me on the bathroom floor as I heaved. My friends Jenna,Brooke, and Karrie PA came and stayed with me. I will never forget their kindness. I had no idea what I was saying, if I was coherent, but I made them change my flight from Indiana (where my RV was ) to Florida ( where Patrick was in the hospital).
Shock does funny things to you. I had just been told that the only man I had ever loved was brain-dead, and that somehow made me want to play a song. It was suddenly deeply important to me. Alyse gave up her spot in line at the open-mic, and I got up and told our story, and sang to Patrick while I cried my eyes out through the song. I got through it somehow; it was my musical tribute to his life. Then I got on a shuttle and to the airport.
My flight was delayed 3 hours, and I remember the sound of a man vacuuming next to me in the middle of the night as I sat at my gate. He took one look at me and turned off the vacuum, mouthed “im sorry” and walked away.
As I flew to Florida that night, I knew that I was unravelling, and that for the first time in my life, the knowledge I had received was too much for me emotionally to process. I felt like a Picasso painting; fragmented as hell. Patrick was dead, he was gone, and there was an anvil in each of my lungs. I know I was sobbing the entire flight, and everyone around me was sleeping. There were two men on either side of me who heard me sobbing. One man was not asleep, but pretended to be because I think I frightened him. I fell into fitful, nightmarish bouts of sleep, waking up and not knowing where I was, re-realizing the horror of the moment, re-experiencing the shock, crying, repeating the cycle.
When I got to Florida, my mother had flown there to be with me. She was a welcomed face – her comfort an immense gift. She told me to have faith, and that until a doctor told us in person that he was gone, we should hope. She said she was praying for a miracle. By the time we got to the hospital, the force that I had felt pulling me in L.A towards Patrick became so intense that I couldn’t stop running. As I got to the doors of the TICU I slowed down. I waited. I entered. I saw his brother Dan sitting, and a curtain pulled. I walked in and said hello to Patrick’s family, intentionally not turning towards the bed. But then I turned, and I saw him, and immediately fell into Danny’s arms. There are no words for what that moment felt like or that kind of pain.
His father told me that he’d been informed that there was some brain activity. My first prayer had been answered. The next 10 days my Patrick lay in a coma, and as a typical newbie to the TBI world, I clung to every twitch of an eye, every beep of an alarm, every piece of news, every… single… thing. I sat by his bedside, I sang to him, talked to him, I stayed when the nurses asked me to leave, I watched him heave, seize, lurch… it was impossible to watch but I knew somehow that he needed me there. I watched him suffer in ways no one should ever have to suffer. The nurses looked at me with pity, they tried to force me to see the reality before me, and they said that it was likely he’d never wake up, and if he did, he’d never be functional again.
When I finally realized that I had no control, absolutely none, over what was happening, or what was to happen.. I prayed. I prayed for a total healing of my love. I prayed that he would survive, and when it seemed he would, I prayed that he would also LIVE. I had no idea in that first week what lay ahead of me. I still wanted to tour, thought maybe I would, thought maybe Patrick would “wake up” and be him again “just like that”, and had no real understanding of what a traumatic brain injury entailed. I was in shock and denial and had no idea what to expect. I longed to hear him say my name again, to feel his touch, to see his gorgeous, army-coat green eyes. I touched my hand to his heart and felt it beating. I sat with him 8-10 hours a day. It gave me great comfort.
Days turned to weeks, and weeks into months. My life metamorphosed into something totally different than what it had been. I let that change occur with an open heart. I became brand new, and my soul, so forever changed, so scarred from this tragedy, so ripped open, just stayed open, even more open than before. In came the pain, but the open wound make room for the love. And by God, did the love ever come into me… so pure, bright, and beautiful.
……In the past year.. I have never told this story on Facebook. But today, I feel I have to share it with you all….because today is miraculous day. And it can’t be fully appreciated, not within my heart, without me bringing my story full circle. I had to revisit that day and write about it, to realize how far Patrick and I have come. Today is a day that I could have never imagined would’ve been possible one year ago. Today Patrick and I woke up together in our new apartment, smiling at each other, we had a Rebirth Ceremony at sunset, we went to dinner, and now are laying together again in the dark. I am so full of emotion that I don’t know where to place it, how to express it… the tears I shed as I write this are painful and beautiful, they are three parts joy and one part sadness. They are tears of gratitude, and sorrow, and anger, and nostalgia, and intimacy and bliss.
My heart still aches for the old dreams, but my new dreams are sweet too. Besides, there could never have been another choice for me. Love made the decision. And it has been worth it. Yesterday we were shopping and I’d left Patrick in the car to get something in the store. When I got back in and he looked pensive. He turned to me and said “there’s something I have to tell you.” I said… “what it is, love?” He said to me… “Just as the sun is bright… so are you beautiful.” And he began to tear up. “You left your career behind to come to me, stayed with me, and are still here with me. I remember being in the hospital and a nurse cleaning me. I couldn’t speak. I didn’t have any clothes on. I was scared. But you were laying next to me on a cot. You were there. And i thought to myself, “she’s here. it’s going to be ok.”
I’m still here, Love. And you’re right. It’s all going to be ok. Happy 1rst Rebirthday, Patrick. I adore you. I always will.