I know I spend a lot of time talking about how this head injury has impacted our family. I hope that I can describe how this event feels, in hopes of telling our story, and so that others can try to understand how different our life is now. I know many other people, police officers included, are also living with a spouse or family member with a head injury, and that those around them struggle to understand how complicated life can now be.
I use the puzzle analogy quite often because it seems to fit when I am describing the many different parts of how people feel. I often use it to describe how Frank’s brain is recovery, and how many different parts there are to make a whole picture.
As we were driving in the car today, I thought of another way that this analogy works. We have the large thousand piece puzzle that Frank is putting together, with pieces under the chairs and tables, or hiding in someone’s hand.
The other puzzle is the five piece puzzle that makes up our family. We are each our own piece, with our own shape. Shapes that have joined together fairly easily throughout the years as our family has grown. Although the pieces do not stay uniform, they fit together relatively easily, joined by consistency, predictability of a family, and understanding of expectations.
All of a sudden, the pieces no longer fit easily together. Some still fit with predictable regularity, while others seem to shift, becoming pointy or sharp, and no longer fit together with the other pieces. It is hard to explain to the kids why this happens. Why there is not a fit when in the past there was. Why when a piece may look the same, it doesn’t fit the same as before.
I was told by a wise man recently that most marriages begin to fail at this point. The reason? People think that the relationship should start to easily fall back into place once the person with the TBI looks and acts more themselves. The truth is, the marriage that once was is over. That relationship, and those two people, no longer exist. In their place, with luck, are two people that share the commitment of that relationship, and that are willing to work together to make a new marriage, a different marriage, but a new one.
That is a hard place to be, and sometimes a sad one. But sometimes new is not a bad thing. Sometimes new can be exciting, and challenging, and funny.
I think that new to us is still scary, but the old is floating around us as well. As long as we don’t focus on the old, or rely on the old, the new can carry us along as we begin to understand what the new means.
I don’t know what it means, that’s for sure. But I still try to find the good part at the end of the day, and know that tomorrow is another day to have good new moments.