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.