Monday, February 9, 2015

I'll Stand By You

There is an icy patch between my back porch and the garage. I say, "Coco I need you." She comes running to me, absolutely exuberant. Usually, I put her vest on before we go outside and I say, "One step girl." And then we carefully go outside. When I hold onto the handle of her vest there is no tugging or movement forward. We are one in motion. She leans her body into the side of my leg just enough to give me balance so I don't fall down. Some times I forget to put the vest on Coco and she just waits there for me to take a hold of her back.

I could put some salt in front of the garage door but the dogs would walk through it and I worry about it getting on their feet.

I had already put Rider on his tether so he could be outside with us too. Coco and I went into the garage and I emptied the garbage and secured the lid and then opened the garage door. Sun filled the garage and for a second or two I am blinded. Coco knows its coming. I can feel her wrap around the backs of my legs. We have to take the recycle bin and garbage can to the end of the driveway. The driveway has been plowed and salted but it is very cold and there are icy spots that are some times hard to see.

I put a snow shovel in the recycling bin and with one hand, push it down the driveway. I hold onto Coco with my other hand. After seven years of living together we instinctively take "one steps" until we have gone to the end of the driveway. Gently, she leans into the side of my leg to give me support so I don't fall down. We walk back up the driveway and then roll the garbage can down and set it alongside the recycle bin. And then we walk back up to the garage and close the overhead door. Each time my trusty girl is by my side. She never moves an inch without me. Coco's love and focus never waivers. How did I get this lucky... I am so grateful to share life with Coco.

I was stirred today about something that happened after the accident that left me with a Traumatic Brain Injury. Maybe a couple of years later. I was still in a fog, trying to find my way back to my new life with a TBI. I was driving in the day time to places close to the house and only going in straight lines. I decided I wanted to find out if I could do something all on my own. I went to see a movie called, "The Horse Whisperer". It was during the day and I don't think there was anyone else there. Which was lucky because there were a few times when I watched this movie that I sobbed uncontrollably. That kind of gut crying that shakes your whole body. In the dark there I watched the whole movie. I left, all wobbly, using my cane, blinded by the bright light outside, I made it to my car and sat in it and cried some more. I didn't understand what upset me so. I talked with my neuro-psyche about it. But I didn't feel settled in my mind over it. About a year later I finally finished reading the book. Often crying even then. But I couldn't process it. When the video finally came out I watched it and had the same reaction. I talked with my neuro-psyche and told her I knew there was something going on but I couldn't figure it out. I felt like I needed to face whatever it was but I couldn't sort it all out. She told me to watch the video and stop it whenever I felt that way and write down what happened in the movie. She said she would watch the movie too. So I did and when we met again I gave her my notes.

After reading them she said I had replaced my self with the horse. As soon as she said this, I knew it was true. The accident and injuries and not being able to trust the doctors or people who were supposed to take care of me; feeling terrified and panicked and alone and unable to understand what happened to me, it all was there. And then the doozy moment came. There was a point in the movie when this troubled horse got loose and ran off. And the trainer went out to the field where the horse was and he waited. He waited all day. He waited until that horse came back to him. And my first thought was, there is no-one who will ever wait for me like that. No-one will ever love me like that. And I grieved over the person I once was and the promise of the person I could be in the future.

I did eventually get great help and will always be grateful to the Chicago Lighthouse and RIC for their expertise and ability to help me understand what happened to me and how I could make the best out of what remained. Its been twenty years since that car came speeding into our lane and since then I have realized that there have been plenty of people that have waited for and have stood by me. My amazing sister and her family, my precious children and a few dear friends and of course, Coco.

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