“Nineteen and at the peak of life
Lively and eager to bounce
Off into the beckoning starry-wild world…
But suddenly the dream shatters
Everything goes dark
All my 19 years of fullness
Wiped out in a second
Lies in shambles…
And I grope, helpless and feeble
To hold on to the precious littered pieces
Like a baby I begin again
Unable to think, unable to feel,
Unable to pick myself up…
Kindly people around help me take small steps
But it’s a process that seems endless
Everyday I wake up to another old day
With no memory of my yesterday
And daring not to dream of my tomorrow
Deep deep down I know
I can never return to the abundance
I once knew
I can never ever pick up my life-
‘Life’ I left behind when I was just 19”.
This is the song of many young individuals who have sustained a brain injury and whose lives are changed forever.
They were young, full of life- either at the threshold of adulthood or just settling down to enjoy the serenity of middle age. They were the pride of their families- newly weds or new fathers…full of dreams. But all this shattered on that fatal day, when in a fraction of a second, they were fighting for life. And as they woke up from this nightmare, they realized that life would never be the same again.
They had been on the brink of death but a miracle had made them survive. They had been given a second chance to live; yet their faces often mirrored this question- “how are we to live without the memories of our yester years and without dreams for our morrow”? The aftermath of brain injury is making sense of that big question-it is about starting from scratch- it is about learning to live life all over again.
On looking back on the hard path they had trod and looking ahead to scaling new heights,they all say in unison- “we have come a long way from where we started and there is a long way to go to reach our dreams ahead.” That's amazing hope- a diehard hope! Of course there are times a feeble plea is heard which cries, “lend me some of your hope- I am beginning to grope for mine.” And pairs of helpful hands would reach out- a united love, which say ‘we are there for you’!
This ‘give-and-take’ reflects how much they long for people of their kind- ones going through similar experience and ones who silently understand their struggles, as they are in it together.
Their enthusiasm to learn; their eagerness to give their all; their efforts to grapple with issues often too lofty for them, were a wonder to us who worked with them. It spurred us on to do our best for them- that often seemed too inadequate.
For us, so called ‘health experts’, working with them is a humbling and a learning experience. A time when we are made to realize that our best is often not enough. We may have the knowledge, but we lack wisdom; we may have the ‘niceness’, but we certainly are in need of more grace and love. We may seem to do it all right- systematically, scientifically and to the ‘best of our expertise’ but yet something is missing! We have to learn to move over, so that the Master Healer can walk in to add that extra special touch. We have to hand over the ordinary plain water in our jars, so that it can be turned into wine. We have to give into His hands our little- just five loaves and two fish, so He can bless it to satisfy the numerous needs. We have to learn to let go, to step back, to make room for the wonderful Counselor, the Prince of peace. It is only He who can teach us to work with these people who are given a second chance to live life.
As He takes control, He gives wholeness to that which is incomplete; he makes possible that which seems impossible; He gives beauty where there are only ashes; He refashions what is scarred and marred; He brings perfection out of brokenness. He loosens tongues and takes empty sounding words and speaks to the hearts and minds of these people who have to accept and cope with their disabilities. He uses us to give hope and courage to caregivers of brain injured individuals, to encourage them to go on caring because one day they will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are times, as people in a caring profession, our eyes are opened, our hearts warmed as we see His promises come alive as we worked alongside Him. Strangely, these are all just small beginnings and in our hearts aflame a hope that the Great Physician will continue to touch through our lives. And that those who have been given a ‘second chance to live’ will be transformed to bear fruit.