My Reflections on NYT Article: The Art of Presence

This NYT article The Art of Presence came through my twitter feed today and the headline stopped me. As I read the article I flooded with memories and resonance.

Do be there.
Don’t compare, ever.
Do bring soup.
Do not say “you’ll get over it.”
Do be a builder. 
Don’t say it’s all for the best or try to make sense out of what has happened.
YES!! A million times YES!!!
One morning in the very mixed up, frightening days soon after my car accident when we were all still learning what  TBI (traumatic brain injury) meant, my cousin came to the door with a flat of blueberries which she and her sister and their kids had picked. I will never forget. On a different  morning two ladies, friends of my mother, came to weed the front yard. I will never forget. Blueberries and weeds. This was the normal stuff of my life. The places where I found space to breathe. But I could no longer breathe. In blueberries and weeds these women protected this space for me. Perhaps it was a hassle to their schedules, perhaps it was trivia they hardly remember. But I will never forget. Do Bring Soup.
In the aftermath of my accident I spent a lot of time and energy trying to connect the dots to figure out what was to become of this chaos that was now my brain and my life. My brain worked oddly and it worked constantly and it worked too fast. I WANTED a reason for the brokenness and disrupted plans. But in the moments of deep grief and loss and anger I did NOT WANT a neatly tied box of answers. Nine years later I still don’t. Don’t say it’s all for the best or try to make sense out of what has happened. 
Speaking of the fact that I am writing this nearly 9 years later, Do not say “you’ll get over it.” What that means and what that looks like can not be certain. In many variations, it has not been helpful to be told about the great healer Time. Time too often folds on itself. I will never “get over it.” I do hope to continue to integrate “it” into the journey that is my life.

These years post head injury & trauma have been full. I’ve birthed a baby who will be 8 years old in a few short weeks!! I’ve given up a teaching career. I’ve learned new skills. I’ve moved out of the safety of my community. Along this way I’ve healed and adjusted. I continue to heal and adjust. I am so grateful for the many people who, in various ways, have been present when I needed presence and been builders when I needed builders.

lightinthedarkI have spent many therapy conversations sorting through my experience of people’s responses to my pain. I know I am one person and my experience is just that. But if I could sum up what I have been most grateful for along the way it would be in the words of this @Julie Silander tweet : Offering hope to another rarely means giving an answer. It often means offering curiosity & being willing to enter into uncertainty & pain.

The Art of Presence. It opens imagination. It allows light. It creates space. And in that space I can breathe.


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