hindsight, it’s probably best that we didn’t know what was
coming. No one really wants to know that life is about to
become difficult — very difficult.
It took several months for the severity of my own TBI to
become clear. Early on, well-respected doctors — doctors doing
the best they could in this strange and so often unpredictable
land of traumatic brain injury — predicted a complete
A few weeks after my cycling crash, one of my first
neurologists shared that I “would be back to 100 percent
within a few short months.” Always one to rise to a challenge,
this time-frame didn't bother me a bit.
As time marched forward, his timeline for my complete recovery
changed a bit. Months passed and I still had significant
“issues.” He upped the ante a bit and let me know it might be
three years, but certainly no longer than five years, until I
fully recovered. I would be completely normal again.
Looking back with the benefit of time, I see now that the good
doctor really was doing the best he could. I have no room for
lingering resentment or animosity as these are barriers to
forward progress. Life can be challenging enough.
There really was such innocence during that first year after
my injury. Sarah and I thought we were just biding time,
waiting for life to return to normal. Life did return to
normal, but it’s the new TBI normal. We’ll circle back to that
There was so much we just didn’t know during year one
post-injury. I find myself unexpectedly grateful for what we
We didn’t know that even now, well into year four, those PTSD
nightmares would still haunt me. We didn't know that there
really is no end game in brain injury recovery. We didn’t know
about the friends we would lose, the financial hardships that
were coming, that life as we knew it was coming to a close.
Nine months after my crash, Sarah and I traveled to the
Florida Keys. We were still living in the “Age of Innocence”
as we were both expecting me to recover fully. A week in the
balmy tropics seemed like a near-perfect way to help speed
along my recovery. We basked under a mid-summer’s sun, hopped
from tropical beach to tropical beach, did lots of hand
holding and figured we were still on the right track as my
Had we known what was barreling toward us at light speed, our
trip would have been filled with dread and fear. Precious
memories would never have been made.
More than three years have passed since our first trip to the
Keys. This past summer found us back in the Keys again, a bit
older and a whole lot wiser.
We have both learned so much along the way. The most
meaningful life lessons come from living through what life
puts on your plate. No longer do Sarah or I pay much attention
to predictions. Trying to predict brain injury recovery is
like trying to put a saddle on a cat. You can try really hard,
but in the end, it becomes nothing more than a lesson in
More importantly, living life “in the moment” has become one
of the biggest forward moving steps we have taken. The past
cannot be changed. It’s a cancelled check. The future never
really comes. It’s a promissory note.
This past summer found us walking on many of the same beaches
on which we had walked a few short months after my injury.
Though the beaches were the same, I am different now.
During our most recent trip, we passed a small nature trail at
Bahia Honda State Park. In the “Summer of Innocence” back in
2011, Sarah and I walked a nature trail there. Both
shutterbugs, she and I, we snapped countless flora and fauna
shots. One of those butterflies travelled north with us in
digital format. Never would I have imagined that this winged
beauty would be the exact same butterfly I would use on the
cover art for my book.
Tears filled my eyes as we passed that same trail. It’s been
such a long journey. Sarah never even turned to look at me.
She felt high and sudden emotion rise from deep within me. Her
grip on my hand tightened ever so slightly. We are connected
at a soul-level like that.
Yes, living life in the moment is the real key to being okay
with all this. In the moment, there is no fear of an uncertain
future. In the moment, there is no regret for choices that
could have been made differently. There is safety, security,
and peace to be found in this moment.
And at least for now, in this exact moment in time, I am okay
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