Navigating the moguls

Having our family together again is a blessing I’ll cherish endlessly. Each morning brings a moment where I think to reach for FaceTime, only to remember Lauren and Jennifer are actually here. But this closeness has uncovered new challenges. People often see Lauren or Brooks and assume they’re completely recovered. Lauren’s radiant health and Brooks’s returned vitality mask the reality of their ongoing recoveries—it’s hard to manage expectations when we’re uncertain how long this journey will be, or whether we’re working towards a return to normal or embracing a new kind of normal.

Brain injuries are insidious in their effects, touching everything from balance and vision to memory and coordination. The analogy that resonates with me is that of a ski slope: As children grow, they carve paths through the snow of their developing brains—paths that, over time, become second nature. But a traumatic brain injury is like a blizzard obliterating those familiar tracks, leaving just the tips of trees visible. Suddenly, every trail needs to be rediscovered or remade anew. So the concept of ‘back to normal’ feels distant and strange; it’s not a clear destination.

I’ve returned to Pickleball for physical activity and camaraderie, and it’s heartwarming to reconnect with friends who have supported us tirelessly. Yet, when asked, “How are the kids?” it’s tough to respond. We brought Lauren and Brooks to play Pickleball on Lauren’s birthday, and while it was wonderful to be together, it pained me to see Lauren struggle with a game she once dominated effortlessly—tennis was her world. Despite this, her positive spirit shines as she laughs off missed shots and celebrates the good hits, even as tracking the ball proves difficult.

Sometimes, I wish my own memories of January were less vivid. Each trip to the Pickball court means passing the accident site. There are times I don’t cry, but often, when I’m alone, I’m consumed by thoughts of those first responders, the bystanders who offered aid, and the unknowns of those critical moments. My mind conjures endless ‘what ifs.’ Will there ever be a day when the drive doesn’t torment me with these haunting scenarios? The idea of moving crosses my mind, but I suspect these ghostly memories would follow.

Yet, each time I pass by that place, I am filled with gratitude for the help my children received, and I feel connected to everyone who has supported us through this ordeal. Thank you, truly. And I’m sorry for the pain this has brought to you, too.

I have not figured out how to explain the awe I have for my wife, maybe another post will get me there. She is amazing.

These updates have become a part of my processing, a way to trace the contours of our new reality. As we all find our footing on these newly forged paths, I imagine the updates may slow. Time will march on, and healing will continue.

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