The words “your life can change in an instant” have been overused in self-help books, made-for-tv movies, songs and hallmark cards. But like so many other cliches we hear all the time, they hold little meaning until the moment that you experience something instantaneously life-changing for yourself. Twelve days ago, on the eve of the night before I was supposed to fly to Indiana to get my RV,( to begin the adventure of a lifetime and this blog), I learned the meaning behind that cliche, when my entire world was ripped apart in an instant. At 11:30 p.m, a person that I have known and loved for 15 years with a deeper intimacy than probably anyone else on the planet, was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury in Florida. We shared a profound romance and friendship for much of our lives. He was my first love. He was the boy that in high school sparked music in me, and the reason I began songwriting. He was the inspiration for my first record. Then, many years later we reconnected, fell in love again, and made a record together. Last year, he played percussion, co-produced and co-arranged my third record, “The Giant Unquiet” which was completed just last week and is about to be released. Because I share such a deep connection with this man, I actually experienced a “sense” in my gut that he was hurt, which caused me to call his family and ask them out of the blue to tell me what was wrong. Again, people talk about these kind of instinctive experiences, but until you yourself are inside one and feel the bone-chilling truth in your gut that is unexplainable and unprovoked, you don’t really believe they’re possible.
The night I found out that he was hurt, I was in California at the TAXI Road Rally. I don’t remember much of the evening. It was a blur. I was in shock. I remember texting a few girlfriends at the rally “S.O.S” and laying on the bathroom floor of the lobby heaving. I remember friends carrying the full weight of my body as I barely walked from room to room. I remember people touching me. The sounds of people playing instruments, clinking glasses, laughter, and the general buzz that makes the last night of this convention so marvelous faded into the background and became warbled. Everything was moving slowly, as if through grey mud. I changed my flight from Indiana to Florida, and through the kindness and amazing generosity of those few women surrounding me, I found myself on a red-eye flight to Florida around midnight.
The next 9 hours and two plane rides were the darkest I had ever known. Though a miscommunication that was the result of shock and devastating sadness, I thought that my love had no brain activity and was already gone. I thought I was going to say goodbye to him. I fell into some kind of half-sleep, but every time I closed my eyes i felt like i was suffocating. People around me were sleeping peacefully, but my body felt like it was on fire, and my lungs as if filled with water.
When I got to the hospital the next morning, still in shock and still in my dress from the day before, I was handed the miraculous news that my love had brain activity and was alive. The next 12 days that followed were torturous peaks and valleys of emotional highs and devastating lows. I feared for his life, I prayed for him to survive, and when it seemed he would, I found myself praying he would not only survive but live. My worry and fears shifted to new planes as he fought to stay with us. For the past two weeks, I’ve lived in motels and stayed with friends of friends of friends. Mostly, I lived in the hospital at his side. At times the grief has felt so heavy on my chest that I didn’t think I could take another breath. Then some days, I’ve felt all this peace and comfort to be next to him; confident that God was working a miracle. His prognosis is not good, but I hold onto every minute bit of progress as a chance to celebrate. After all, twelve days ago I thought I was flying to say good-bye, and now he is alive and hopefully, healing. He remains in a coma and has suffered one of the worst brain injuries you can endure. He shattered his leg, but has had surgery to repair it. Nobody knows what will happen when he wakes up, or for that matter, if he even will wake up at all. The doctors have the medical facts, and it’s there job to hand them to me and his family with as much clarity as possible. But they don’t know their patient like I do, and I can see things that they can’t.
They say he probably can’t hear me, but I sit with him for hours and talk to him. One of the things that made our relationship so unique and rare was what we called “the place”, which was a sense of timelessness that existed when we were together. We would talk for hours and hours, losing all sense of time and space, sometimes till the sun would come up. This I suppose might be common for teenagers, so we were both amused when it remained true for us at 30 years old as well. So I talk his ear off, and I play the songs we wrote together for him on an Ipod. And I feel again in my gut, strong as I did the day I knew he was hurt, that he can hear me.
Twelve days ago I was supposed to get on a plane to fly to Indiana, but instead I flew to Florida. But because the weather is getting bad and very cold in Indiana, I am out of time and must go there to pick up the RV immediately. So tomorrow morning, I’m flying to Holton, IN to pick it up and drive it 15 hours to Florida. Things have changed since I created this blog. The first leg of the adventure I had dreamed of for years will not be me on tour, but me living in a hospital parking lot in my RV, so that I can stay beside my beloved.
It’s an odd thing; I worked so hard to save the money to buy this RV and to complete my record. It took me 6 months and the story of how it came to be was nothing short of miraculous in itself. It took so much faith to see the process through, and I felt so in flow with faith and positive energy by the time I reached my goal that I felt almost invincible. I have dreamed a thousand times of what it would feel like to fly out there and step inside my new home and get behind the wheel. But now I find I don’t know how to feel about any of it – my heart is so heavy, my joy robbed by my grief. But I know that this man supported my RV idea 100% and would want to see me rejoice in this moment, so I am going to try to be as happy as I can be when I finally step inside it.
I want to do everything with joy and the fullness of being alive for him. I want to send him all my love, all my energy and all things positive that are in the world. I want to be a vessel that can pour out all of that onto him through my hands, my voice, and my words. I pray he knows I’m in the room. I pray that if I could feel the trauma of his accident so strongly inside me without any provocation, that perhaps it works in reverse. If we are as connected as we always believed we were, then maybe he can feel the power of my love so strongly that it can reach him, even through the distance of his pain and injury. Every day I pray that it travels across the ill-lit road between consciousness and unconsciousness, where he walks towards awakening, and reaches him, comforts him, and lets him know that he is loved.