TBI is indeed strange, but nothing seems more strange to me, then time. It moves so quickly, and yet also seems to move so slow. Or is it that we move around it while it stands completely still, only giving the illusion that it moves at all? We mark it with noticeable changes like our hair growing, wrinkles deepening, bruises healing. We mark time with dates as ways to remember moment that change our lives. For instance, November 8, 2013 is a day I’ll never forget: the day Patrick was hit by a car, catapulting my life into an entirely different trajectory from the one I had planned. The numbers and letters are colored with black sludge as I feel them heavy in my mouth. November 8, 2013: It was the darkest day I have ever known.
July 16, 2015, on the other hand, will be a date that we always remember with light. It is the day that Patrick has reconstructive surgery on his head, and his synthetic skull cap is put on. A new beginning. The end of another chapter of recovery, and a chance to forge ahead into the next.
This morning we awoke at 5 a.m, dressed, packed our suitcase, hopped in the car and drove to the hospital as the sun began to rise. The sky was grey and pink, the clouds tipped with sunlight, and the roads empty and sleepy. As I drove, I thought about time playing tricks on us again, and I flashed-back to two years ago… July 16, 2013.
On that morning, we also left the house at 5 a.m, but had been up all night together. We had packed a suitcase, and gotten in the car under very different circumstances. We drove that morning in the darkness, to the airport in tension and silence. Patrick was leaving NJ for FL on a 6:30 a.m flight to get help for mental health issues and substance abuse. It had been a long and difficult journey to that day for us, and there was so much to say, and so little time to say it, yet we both chose to say nothing.
As we walked into the airport, Patrick was even-keeled and acting somewhat distant. Standing in the lobby, I saw him welling up, and I began to well up too to from seeing the emotion in his eyes. But all I could say was,”Get some rest. Get well.” I hugged him, burying my face in his neck, letting the smell of what was home comfort me. He was wearing a green polo with red stripes.. my favorite shirt on him. His hair was sloppy and messy and half-way hiding his army-coat green eyes, which looked pained and frightened and wild. I turned away as he got in the security line and walked out quickly.
As I crossed through the double doors, I found I couldn’t take another step. My feet were lead. I couldn’t move. I turned back, and like a scene out of a movie, I ran through the lobby, broke through the security line and found him, his face tear-stained. “Patrick!” I yelled. He turned to me, overwhelmed. “I LOVE YOU!” I said. This time we melted into each other, both of us crying. “I love you, too. Thank you for everything.” he said.
As I walked out into the parking lot, I looked up into the sky, which like today, was both grey and pink, with clouds tipped with sunlight. I got into the car and began to drive on roads that were like today, empty and sleepy. And as I willed my body to turn on the car and drive away from him, which felt completely unnatural and against my instincts, I got a text that read, “I am upstairs at the gate. A couple strands of your hair were tangled in my ear buds. I just love that. I miss you.”
I didn’t know it then, but that morning was the last time I would ever see the Patrick I had known for 16 years. We would not see each other’s faces again, until he awoke from his come almost 4 months later. We would meet each other that day as changed people.
As if that weren’t an odd enough parallel, here’s another. The last time we spoke on the phone was August 8, 2013. We did not speak on the phone again until November 8, 2013 – exactly 90 days later. He called me out of the blue, very distraught. And the only thing he said to me was “are you ok?” before hanging up. Two hours later, he was hit by a car. It was the last conversation we ever had as that version of ourselves, and oddly enough, it was only 3 words.
Coincidence? Well, I don’t know if i believe in those anymore. I find that these days, despite the tragedy and trauma that has entered my life, I believe in kismet, serendipity, madness and love more than ever before. Like I said, time is a strange thing. I couldn’t have known that morning at the airport what laid in store for us, anymore than I can know this morning what life will hold for us two years from today.
However, I do know this: On that morning, July 16, 2013… I came home to my empty apartment, stripped off my clothes and got under the covers, hugging one of Patrick’s t-shirts to my body, and fell into a half-sleep. Before closing my eyes I updated my Facebook with this status…
Today, as I sit here in the hospital, waiting room for my love to emerge with a new skull cap in place, I cannot think of any words more appropriate to offer than those that I spoke on that morning two years ago.
“To live, is to Love.”
Yes. That’s the purest truth I know.
We don’t love because we are alive… we are alive, because we Love.