More than three years ago, I was in a fatal motor vehicle accident. By the grace of G-d I lived and am still here to tell the tale despite my wiped mind and no recollections of the craziest incident in my life. Today I am studying Mechanical Engineering and working my way towards a degree that I can use to help others. My Dean of Engineering sent me this link the other day because he knows that I am fascinated with Traumatic Brain Injuries due to my own. This article explains how such a simple and low cost device has been created and is currently being used to help Traumatic Brain Injured Patients to “talk” again. Of course not all TBI patients experience lack of communication, for example, I can talk, write and think. However, some TBI patients are less fortunate. For these, my heart goes out knowing how much of a struggle it must be. Its like they are stuck inside their brain and can’t find the way out. Thank G-d for engineers with purpose and who are creative enough to think of such an awesome technology to use the power of thoughts to communicate. THIS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!
I know when I stumble and fall and feel so low thats when I grow exponentially. I become more faithful and embrace the good moments better. I enjoy the ups even if its just a funny joke or a smile. I know that climbing mountains is such a healing and powerful thing for me. So here’s to a week of climbing mountains because I know when I get to the top, there is going to be one beautiful view!
This past week has been filled with so many highs and lows, valleys and peaks, both literally and physically. It seems that when you lose someone you just try to make it to the next minute, hour, day, week and month. Each day for the past week I have embraced and tackled the day with the help of G-d, friends and family. I struggled with understanding and coming to terms with this loss. I still haven’t reached that point but I have made almost seven days, almost a whole week that I know there is no turning back. Each day will be different, hard and challenging but there will be sparks of light, smiles, laughter and happiness. The loss of life reminds me of the frailty of being human. It helps me to refocus my life on the fact that life is not something that you can plan out. It is rather like a book with each day being a new page, unwritten and unknown but so often filled with some spec of lasting impact. This week I was reminded how valuable the commodity of time is. It cannot be bought or sold, and is a gift which evil, tragic and harmful events can take away without asking permission.
I realized how important it is that when you tell someone you will meet at a certain time you shouldn’t waste one second to get to them because thats one second more which was wasted. I so often run late and now am I reminded how terrible that is and how I would hate for someone to do that to me. I feel as though there are plenty of broken people who have hurt me by wasting my time and trying to bring me down in their sinking ship. It hurts and today the tears flow easy for multiple reasons but I think it comes down to the fact that I didn’t have enough time with my grandpa or that friend or that guy.
I am struggling and its hard but I am just trying to take it one breathe at a time. Listen to the music and go for a workout. I will breathe in and exhale. I will get through this, because this how G-d has made me. He has made me tough, enclosed by thick walls and slowly I am feeling them crumbling and I am not sure how to handle it. G-d is showing me how human I am and how much I cannot do with Him. I know there are so many good things that will come but for now I just need the strength and sweet comfort to get through today. I am thankful for the time that G-d has given me. Tomorrow, if it comes, I will embrace it and live it and treasure all the time which I have because it really is the most valuable thing that G-d has given me and I will not take that for granted.
This is for my grandfather, my zeyda. I will go climb that mountain for you!
Last night was fun and enjoyable playing games and watching a movie. Today however has been weird, strange and different. I felt knots in my stomach all day. When I woke up I never expected to embrace the kind of change that came my way. I found out my grandfather passed away. All day my thoughts have been jumbled with this rollercoaster past 24 hours. I think the part that I’ve struggled with most is the fact that I really didn’t know who he was. The last memory I have of him filled with personality was when I was younger, I’m not even sure how old I was. All I remember is sitting on my grandparents porch laughing in the glistening sun and waiting for my grandfather, my Zeyda, to make the next cool balloon animal.
Flash-forward to my bat mitzvah, age 13 and I know he was there and I even have pictures with him. Yet, I don’t remember anything in particular. The last visit with him was this past thanksgiving and he was quiet. Periodically he’d make a fuss and he often said, “i don’t know”. Its tragic how dementia runs its course and runs a humans life. G-d forbid any of us from having to go through that. Its sad how my grandfather couldn’t show the love I know he had for my grandmother.
I feel disappointed that I never really got to know him. I instead know the dementia side of him and that was frustrating and hard for all of us in the family to witness. I am glad to know he is out of pain and confusion and hopefully in a much better and more peaceful place. I hope he is bringing smiles and laughing to all the family I’m sure he’s meeting up with right now.
For now I think of my mom and how the struggle must be and how I’ll do anything to help her out. I think of how strong, loving and dedicated my grandmother is for having taken care of my grandfather for a little less than the past 10 years. I think of how wonderful and amazing she has been through the whole process and how determined and dedicated she was to him. It inspires me with the kind of love that she and my grandfather shared. It is only through love that I can see anyone being willing to dedicate or sacrifice their live for another. It is truly beautiful when I think about it; but, for now the knots in my stomach still remain. The loss of life, the disease that essentially took it and all of us, left behind.
Death isn’t fair nor does it come welcomed but it seems to show the circle of life. It seems to symbolize purpose. Meaning to live a life worth talking about. I signed up this afternoon to go backpacking through the mountains next weekend. I know that this will be my way to cherish my Zeyda. To fulfill something that he can’t but that I know he did with my mom. A story that I hope will always live on. Or about the fact that theres a photo of my brother with his Eagle Scout Award hanging on the wall. It all goes back to my grandfather. To when he was the scout leader for my uncle and how he was so passionate about it. These are stories and legacy that I hope live on through my siblings, cousins, me as well as all who knew him.
Today has been different and new, not in a good way but I have realized that its the start of learning how to embrace change. I pray that my grandfather rests in peace and helps G-d up in Heaven. I pray for my family especially my grandmother to be comforted and strengthened during this time. I’m thankful for the time I did share with my grandfather and for all the memories. I’m thankful for the man, husband and father he was and for the grandfather he has been for my cousins, siblings and myself, and for the impact he left behind that I hope will shine through all those he left behind.
Empty. Dark. Lost. Broken. Confused. Twisted.
My first thoughts when I go back to what happened after that cloudy August night. Up until the moment I stepped into that van my life had been pretty “normal”. I thought I had planned my life out perfect and here I was on my way to the next chapter of my normal, average, planned out and safe life.
I awoke to white hallways that led to a twisted plot in my life story. I heard the constant beeping of monitors, nurses shuffling around and my family in a frantic state. I felt misplaced when I recognized the rails along on my bed to prevent me from falling. Or when I rubbed my arm, only to find the needles stuck in my arms taking and giving vital life. The feeling of entrapment with millions of tubes connected to my chest, my throat, my body. When I really opened my eyes and saw the mess I was in, I was disordered. With a purple leg, a black hip and the feeling of stiches or staples in the most random places I realized my whole life had just been jumbled. I should feel shocking pain instead I feel nothing. No pain. Few words. For once in my life, I am quiet and following orders.
Now years later I awake to white walls that have almost a tan, warming touch to them. I feel scars and a slight headache upon arising but I can feel it. Today is going to be a good day. I lace up my shoes, take a sip of water and lock up my apartment. It’s only my second day out in the early morning chill but the movement feels good. The sweat comes streaking down my face about half way down the block all the way till the first mile. Instead my thoughts are focused on the fact that I’m doing this. I’m running again and those bright white halls filled with dark memories are starting to feel further and further away from the present. I finally catch my breath less than twenty minutes and a full two miles after I had started. My legs are cold and my scars look deathly pale blue but I am assured it will be fine after a few minutes in the hot shower. I stretch and eat a protein filled breakfast and head to my classes. Nerves and excitement carry me through my circuits lab. As I finish with math class I am barely focused on numbers or integrals or partial derivatives, I have my busy mind centered on the nearby town where the hospital is.
Quickly after class breaks for lunch I hop in my car and drive into the town of my horror filled hospital memories. I speedily walk into the rehabilitation center and find one of my first doctors. He is cheery and excited to see me and to hear what I have written. He introduces me to three more neural doctors and leads us into a darker room past similar looking halls that I spent months in agony passing by. The memories of emptiness, pain and brokenness swell up inside and are about to win access into my mind when the lights go on. My PowerPoint is plugged into the projector and the picture of myself that August day stares happily at my audience. No one but God, my doctor and me know the story, the twists, the pain and the darkness but we also know the outcome.
As the PowerPoint progress showing the brief clips of my life during those irrepressible struggle-some days I begin my speech. I was in a fatal car accident. I don’t recall it. Any of it. I think it is a blessing. All I know is where my life was headed, into what I thought would be the highlights of my sunny and glorious years. However, God humbled me into another direction. Each pillar that held up my confident life transformed into shadows of the shy and broken corners of my life. I shared my story. As I wrapped up and the doctors were in awe and nearly tears; I could feel how silence filled the room. There was applause. Then such excitement that I would be their keynote speaker for an upcoming neural conference in the coming week. A few minutes later, when I was back on the road headed back to school I was overcome and overwhelmed with emotion. I just spoke and held it together while sharing my story. I didn’t break down or make anyone pity me. I bluntly spoke of the excruciating pain and sorrowful tragedy which my Traumatic Brain Injury brought to my life.
As I pulled into the parking lot outside of the College of Engineering I attend, the reality of my life hit me. Those shadowed corners and pillars that simply crumbled into the dark emptiness were just the broken foundation to what the Lord has planned for me. I am finally able to see that those countless days of feeling lost and empty have led me to the light. Those supports that were easily broken have been built strong and even let the sun shine through. The vast darkness and empty opening is simply filled with uncertainty of what the future will hold now. There are new dreams, less planning and more faith to fill the air. The arches of my life are yet to be filled and are simply leading me to walk with conviction that whatever opportunity is through this uncertain and questionable path will be exactly where I a meant to be. I realize this hall is where I learned to embrace change in any way, every day. As I walk through, I will leave behind the bad and throw away the negative. I realize now that I will run through to see what is next but instead holding onto the thoughts I carry with me, daily.
Hope. Change. Promise. Future. Opportunity. Light.
I know its already February 2014 but I still want to post this. After being exhausted by Israel trip and arriving New Year’s Eve, I think its ok to post this now. So here goes:
I’ve been thinking alot about this year and this trip. I’ve had to say many “see you laters” to friends, co-workers and people I just met. I’ve seen different parts of the world. People living different lives. The diversity but more stern side of life in Germany and the very Jewish, loving and welcoming side of Israel. I’ve seen how much of a bubble my university is and how crazy the world is. I’ve experienced the cut-throat reality in corporate business and the difficulty of studying engineering. Starting a blog was the best way to help me adjust to my constantly changing life and for that I am thankful. I’ve always wanted change but some changes take time and are not easy. Overtime, especially this year I broke out of my comfort zone and its changed my perspective. I’ve opened up more in some ways and closed up in others. I’ve learned from the boys that waltzed into and then walked right out of my life and I’m not bitter about it. I’ve challenged the status quo and made decisions for myself regardless of if there is support or not. In terms of my Judaism, in some ways I’ve done less, but done more with my Jewish friends. The fact that I even have Jewish friends is a first and is change in itself. I’ve listened to conversations in foreign languages I can’t comprehend and yet somehow I can understand whats being discussed. I’ve seen and missed weddings of nearly all my close friends. I’ve tried to eat healthier and loose a few pounds as well as dress cuter and do my hair/makeup. I even dyed a strip of hair blue just because. I’ve done things that are uncertain and scare me; go to Germany and find my way through a crazed labyrinth as well as going zip-lining in Israel. I’ve done things I’ve dreamed of for years like study abroad and go on Birthright and most importantly, go to the Kotel! I have friends and connections who live all over the world, live different lives and yet we can all find things in common. I feel blessed to be alive and this year, I’ve really felt like I’ve started to live. I’m grateful for the memories, the friends, my family, the trips, the experiences and all the learning. I’ve grown and learned so much about myself and who I am. Yet I feel its just the beginning of the rest of my life. This is the starting line and there is no telling the course ahead. One thing I know for certain, everything in life happens for a reason, part of a grand scheme that G-d is orchestrating and it has led me to today with the best ideas and plans in mind.