“Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.”
– Jo Ann Merrell
The above quote is one I believe to be a perfect description of parenting. That is what all parents would want for their children: to love and nurture them through childhood and adolescence, to give them the springboard to progress and develop into an independent, hard-working adult. However, the quote does leave something to be desired in that it is set in an ideal world. The above scenario does not apply to people who are constantly living their life on a steep learning curve. This learning curve is not only restricted to a child who has suffered from the injury; it has a ripple effect, mostly affecting the parents who have the job of loving, supporting and nurturing their child. The need for these three elements in life is increased tenfold after a head injury. To say that bringing a child up with a head injury stops you from being able to enact the above scenario is not true. It just becomes more difficult, and with the right guidance, the right attitude and the right spirit, it can be done.
I would just like to start off and say to any parents out there who are bringing up a child who has suffered a brain injury, regardless of the age of that child: you are incredible! At whatever stage of the recovery you are at, you are doing so well. To have the courage to endure that kind of heartache, that kind of stress, to have had to hear the kind of things you are told about someone you love so dearly, you are a credit to this society. Not only to have to endure that kind of pain but then to compose yourself and act with the love, the dignity and the determination you do is an inspiration to me and many others. May I say without any trace of sickliness or patronising tone that my love, best wishes and respect goes out to every single one of you, whether reading this or not.
Over the last six years, I have watched my parents fight battles for me. They have picked me up when I have fallen (literally in some case), they have shown unconditional love and support through what was (and still is) a difficult time, as I try to find my way in this world. I am twenty-six years old and I still live at home with my mum and dad. The truth is, I am still not able to live independently six years on from my injury. Both of my parents play different roles in helping me, which play to their individual strengths.
My dad, my dad is my rock. He is a man that seemingly cannot and will not be beaten back or ignored. He has always been this way. He seems to have a built in determination, such a strong desire not to lose, especially when it comes to his family. This aspect of his personality has been hugely increased since I suffered my ABI. He works tirelessly to ensure that I get what I need to level the playing field in life. This the man who stayed on hold for around three to four hours to get through to the Disabled Students Centre at the university I was applying for. After many arguments with staff members there, when I arrived at university, I had all the assistance I need, and more in the bag. He’s the man who went to meetings with benefits advisors with me. He acted as my advocate when it came to working within the systems of society. He was essentially my armour in what is currently an unkind world.
My mother, she was and still is my emotional comfort. She is always there to talk to me when I am finding things difficult. She has this maternal instinct where I cannot help but feel loved. She has a way of being able to put things in perspective as to how bad things could be. She has never shied away from the challenges I faced and still does not today. Where my father has taken on the duty of helping me in a more practical sense throughout life, my mother has been the other side of the coin. My mum has always allowed me and enabled to make my feelings, my fears, my triumphs, and my worries known whether they are about myself, family life or my search for a reliable and safe future.
Between the two of them, my parents have loved, nurtured and advised me through the most life-changing thing it seems impossible to go through. Every day I rely on them to help me with what would seem like easy things to do for any other person. I am not very good at verbalizing what it is that I want to say (this has always been true but more so since I suffered my ABI), so to my parents when they read this, I just want to let them know the following: I love you more than I can put into words. Your unconditional support, your advice, your protection, your constant and dependable presence gives me comfort and a feeling of safety. It is this that gets me through the hard times. For all of this and more, I am so grateful, but the last thing I want to show my thanks for is your unconditional love in a time where I have changed as a person, and my life has been thrown upside down and I have not necessarily been the easiest person to live with. So thank you for being there and loving me.
To all the parents out there, as children, it is awkward for us to say these things to you without turning red and mumbling a very short and cut down version of these sentiments. You should know however, that all of us feel this way and the job that you do everyday and your presence and support, enables us to approach life in the most advantageous way possible. Because of you ,we can take part in the game and have a good chance of winning even when the playing field is not necessarily even.
About the author
My life was changed for ever on the 30th of August 2009 when an attack on a night out left me with sever brain injuries. I was left in an induced come after suffering fractures to the skull, bleeds on the brain, as well as severe bruising to the frontal lobes. Since the injury I have found it hard to find and keep work, to maintain relationships, and generally stay positive. I have decided to share all of my journey with you, in the hope we can bring brain injury awareness to the level it should be at. Please, follow my own WordPress blog Life After Brain Injury to keep up to date with my brain injury journey! Follow me on Twitter: @ABIBlogger
Tom Massey, ABI Blogger