This one is for you, William.
My mind runs marathons as I attempt to drift off to sleep. I can’t turn it off. My husband turns to me, confused as to why the bright light from my phone is eliminating my face at 2 a.m.. I have no idea how to explain to him the race my mind is running, so I quickly turn off the phone and pretend to be asleep. My husband lacks awareness for anything out of the norm. His TBI (traumatic brain injury) has changed him…and me. I suppose that’s one of the main culprits for the constant marathon in my head.
A few moments pass, and am comforted by the loud snores beside me. I turn and face him to watch him sleep. It sounds so creepy, but watching him sleep calms my mind. He’s so peaceful. He has one hand behind his head and the other across his abdomen. After some time, he places himself on his side and cuddles in a ball. As he sleeps my mind runs through the journey he has endured. He didn’t ask for any of this, but just like the fighter he is, he has exceeded everyone’s expectations. In the beginning when he was connected to all the machines, the doctors were quick to treat and placed tubes and drains to keep him alive. They were also quick to judge. His brain damage was so severe, they never expected him to recover.
I was fearful and had moments of uncertainty, but never once did I give up on him. Despite his deficits, he continues to participate in his early morning exercise routine prior to working his full-time job. He participates in cognitive therapy weekly to learn compensatory strategies and continues to have an optimistic outlook on this shitty life he has been dealt. If you saw him on the street, you’d never know he was the victim of this horrid injury. He lacks inhibition and is unable to read majority of social cues. He can’t decipher my sarcasm and continually questions my mood (I’m not easy to read, so it’s understandable). He is anxious and timid and not the least bit assertive. He naps often and often falls asleep while watching our favorite shows or movies. He doesn’t understand complex emotions and confuses my disagreement for anger. He criticizes my driving every time he’s in my car. He doesn’t express much emotion and is the least bit decisive. Yet, he remains resilient and fights like hell to regain all what this TBI stole from him.
His attributes far out-weigh all of his deficits. He is patient and accepts my erratic outburst as a form of emotional release but never judges me. He ignores my laziness and helps me organize the months of piled laundry without hesitation. He tends to the dogs while I play tennis for hours. He repairs the broken bed in the wee hours of the night when the dogs dislodge it. He understands my need for isolation and never questions my early bedtime or lack of conversation. He may never agree with my love for my dog, but he cuddles with him when I’m away. He removes hair from the drain when it clogs and always takes out the trash willingly. He loves my family and contacts them without being told. He recognizes my seclusion and encourages participation for he understands being surrounding by friends/family is the most important part of the healing process. He supports my love for my job and listens as I explain the days trials/successes. He understands family is my world and attempts to include them in his. He understands his lack of inhibition and allows me to be assertive in all aspects of life. He trusts my decisions. He is my calm and my balance in this crazy life.
As he sleeps, I am more aware than ever of how handsome and strong he is. His scars remind me of this beautiful journey, and I am so blessed to be apart of it. His resilience reminds me I, too, can conquer anything. He is kind, my biggest supportive, and the very best part me.
Life hasn’t been easy. It has actually been pretty damn difficult. There were times when I wanted to throw my hands up and walk away from the madness, but I am so glad I didn’t give up. I am well aware there will be many more difficult times ahead, but I find comfort in knowing I won’t have to face these times alone. As he sleeps, I whisper “I am so in love with the person you have become. You are absolutely the best part of me.”
I place my hand on his back and close my eyes. I fall asleep knowing I am exactly where I am supposed to be.