This is my last post for Caring and Giving, and happily, it’s not good-bye! A wonderful opportunity has presented itself. I could not be more excited about sharing this with all of you, my very first blog followers! Today is the launch of my new weekly blog on BrainLine.org. BrainLine is an award-winning national multi-media site produced by WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in Washington, D.C. I’m extremely honored to play a small part in the incredible work they do. My new blog, called Learning by Accident, will explore all aspects of TBI caregiving: the challenges, joys, and the bonds that unite us through collective life experience.
I started my Caring and Giving blog in January 2009 while my mother lived with us in hospice care as she fully lived out the last few months of her life with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). As of that date, I had helped my husband rebound from a severe TBI and seen my father struggle through the last two years of his life in a thick fog of vascular dementia. I watched how it robbed his memory, but never his jovial laugh and love of music. I wanted to capture in written words, the beauty, sadness, and serenity of my beautiful parents: the gradual unwinding of lives well lived; the slow deterioration of worn out bodies paired with soaring souls.
Today, I cannot stop thinking about them. They fortified me with their strength and encouragement. My father, a gifted musician, continually told me to push on with my writing, and my mother, who read the full manuscript of Learning by Accident while in hospice said, “You must publish this book!” The lessons they taught me live on—the most important one being, people come first—love deeply and without regret. I watched them live this every day.
I published Learning by Accident within a year of my mother’s death, continuing my Caring and Giving blog with a new focus on brain injury as I launched the book in 2011. Since then, many wonderful relationships have bloomed: at the Medical College of Virginia, VCU Health Systems, The Brain Injury Association of Virginia, HealthSouth Hospital of Virginia, the James River Writers, and BrainLine! I owe so much to more people than I can name, and look forward to continuing my work on behalf of caregivers, families, and the men and women who brave each day following a traumatic brain injury—like my husband—whose tenacity and lust for life continues to inspire me!