I was sitting at dinner with a good friend, and I had no idea what to talk about. This had never happened to me before. I was the girl who was never at a loss for words. I always had something to say. I was the one who kept the conversation going. My friends and I would talk for hours on the phone. What happened to me?
Tragedy. It changes people. It changed me. Within seconds of Will’s tragic accident, I went from being his partner to his caregiver/decision maker. I was his voice when he didn’t have one. It was me who had to give consent to placing a feeding tube in my husband. It was me who denied a tracheostomy. It was me who insisted they remove his breathing tube. It was me who decided to leave our support system and travel six hours away so he could receive the best rehab possible. Life doesn’t stop when tragedy happens. The bills still had to be paid. I still had posts, quizzes, and tests to complete. Not only did I gain 14 wrinkles and 21 pounds, I also began losing my hair.
So to say my perspective on life has changed, is an understatement. My husband is a walking miracle. Because of my decision to move him to intensive rehab combined with his determination, he surpassed everyone’s expectations. It has been four months since his tragic accident, and he has already returned to work. Reality hit me as I watched him drive off to his second first day of work. I don’t have kids, but I’m certain I know what parents feel when they send their child away to college. I remember my mom standing on the porch crying at the end of summer and Christmas breaks as I drove off heading back to college.
As I stood in the driveway watching Will drive away, I felt so lost and lonely. Now what? The person who depended on me the past four months, no longer needed me. And don’t think I didn’t ask, practically beg, to take him to work…he rolled his eyes and declined. I would assume this is also how parents might feel when their kids leave the house.
For four months, I put his needs and wants before mine. I needed a transformation. I had let myself go. I went to my hairstylist, whom I haven’t seen in 1 1/2 years, and she barely recognized me. My hair was a dingy blonde and lacked style. I knew I had changed, but she was the first to point it out verbally. I needed this. She worked her magic and turned me back into the bright, naturally-looking blonde I have always been. The stylist beside her commented on my transformation and stated how much better my hair looked. I so wanted to explain to this random women why my hair looked so shitty. I wanted to show her pictures of me with my long, blonde hair. I wanted her to know tragedy swept in and changed me. But instead, I politely thanked her and went on my way.
You see, tragedy changed me. Although, I have temporarily lost myself, I am on the way to discovering the new me. So, for those who know someone experiencing tragedy, please be patient with them. I beg you to not give up on them as this transition isn’t easy. So as you sit across from them at dinner please don’t judge if they seem distant or uninterested. Throw them some sympathy.
Tragedy changes you!