Before I post this I need to say something, It’s written to be deliberately vague and only talks about my feelings and thoughts and not the thoughts and feelings of my family as it would be wrong for me to assume these things and not fair to them for me to put them on the internet. I always say that blogging is a form of therapy for me and I feel like this is an important story to tell.
“He’s paralysed..for life” my sister’s voice at the end of the phone sounded exhausted, slightly bewildered and utterly defeated. Her eldest child and only son, I couldn’t even find words. I muttered my condolences and hung up the phone. There was peace in my living room for a split second before the lightning struck. I called my husband and when I heard his voice all the calm I’d been keeping disappeared , I repeated my sister’s word “he’s paralysed” but my voice wasn’t tired or defeated it was screaming, wailing, a sense of utter panic filled every part of me. It wasn’t a surprise, they’d told us directly after the accident that this was the best result we could hope for, but at that moment I had no strength. It was a week after the accident and these were the words I’d been dreading. I walked to my mum and dads and sat in their house crying hysterically, until my husband arrived. I was terrified and for the first time in my entire life I had no idea what to do or how to react.
Somehow my husband convinced me to go for a walk and so we walked along the river, in the warm sun, with my faithful pup by my side, I remember the calm returning, that foreboding sense of calm that you only ever feel after something really bad has happened. Where everything feels stark and bright and crystal clear, thoughts are concise and focused and you are acutely aware of everything that happens around you, you feel so calm and collected, and the world seems to slow down around you, it’s only when you look back on those moments after some time has passed that you realise you were in shock and that feeling of calm is your brain’s best hope of coping with the trauma. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, what must he be thinking? My sister was at the hospital with him and I felt panic that we weren’t there with them both, I wanted to support everyone, but at that moment I needed to be in my own space. My head was filled with thoughts and questions about what life would be like, how we could make it ok for him, each question went unanswered and made way for the next.
I could see my family history being rewritten before my eyes, I had always felt so secure in our family, like whatever else happened in life my family would be there, the same, constant, invincible, I sort of somehow thought I knew, who we were, what was to come, It is a harsh lesson when you learn how truly fragile life can be, I realised I didn’t know anything. and I was so scared for the future, for him, for my sister, for what was to come.
There was a visit to the hospital that day at some point, and we were all over positive comments and big fake smiles, we all stood around his bed, where he lay, broken, and we told him over and over that everything was going to be alright, every now and then a gap would form where someone would be overwhelmed and have to sneak out of the room to hide their tears from him. And we would close the circle like nothing had happened, and carry on with our false positivity, each hoping we wouldn’t be the next one to dissolve into tears.
I tried to research spinal cord injury that evening, but I couldn’t bare to look at the word paraplegic so I had to stop. Instead I just sat in the dark, wishing this nightmare would end.
The journey has been long since then but when I look back to that day, it seems like it wasn’t that long ago. He’s come so far. He will come out of hospital in a few weeks, he’s been there almost 6 months. He’ll come home to a new house and a life that is different, but a life that is still his, it’s not over and sometimes I still get moments of utter panic and disbelief when I think of what’s happened, what’s to come, and I think I still grieve, a bit, for the part of life that we did lose that day, I’m sure we all do, When I look at everything that’s happened since the accident I feel a weird mix of emotions, sorrow, grief, pride, hope, gratitude, strength, I can’t lie and say it’s been easy, it’s been, at times, unbelievably hard, and the strain has shown on everyone, I’m sure it will, at times, continue to be hard, but he’s here, and he’s practical, positive and realistic about the future. He’s a bloody legend.
I have always had faith in the universe, always believed that things happen for a reason, it’s what gives me hope, but however hard I try, I can’t find a reason for this. Maybe one day it will become clear, maybe there is no reason, but the fact is we were told he was going to die, and he didn’t. We can still sit and have a conversation and laugh together, that’s kind of a miracle. I’ve learnt a huge amount about strength and love and not giving up, I’ve learnt about grief and most importantly I’ve learned a lot about gratitude and about love. I still worry about the future, and I still have unanswered questions, and I know that the bad days will come, because they always will, but thinking back to that day and seeing how far he’s come, against so many odds, reminds me of how many good days are still to come too.