I took some time today to think about how much has happened in just one year.  Since January 2, 2013, there are many days that I think “Last year I was sitting next to Frank in the hospital, wondering if he would ever talk to me again, ever be able to walk, and most of all, would he ever return to being a police officer.”

I went back and pulled one of the 3 posts that I made that day.

January 16th, 2012

It was great to see Frank move forward in some areas today, and hard to watch him stop moving in others.  One day we see him walk, another day he is eating, but not walking.  As many of us know, this is how these days can go, moving forward in some things, and holding in others.  Each day of anything new is good, and we will treasure each of them.

My heart warms with each smile, and breaks just a little when I see him struggle to speak.  It has been just two weeks, and they are the longest two weeks of my life.

The longest two weeks of my life.  Amazing how that phrase affects me now.  It makes my stomach hurt, thinking of the pain that I felt during that time, and the huge uncertainty that I lived with.

At that time, I could never have known where we would be today, or the huge changes that our family would go through this year.  A year seems like such an impossible amount of time – a year – and yet here we are, a year later, still living this journey the only way we know how – with focus and perseverance, with friends, and therapists, family and lots of prayer.

Next week is another change, but this one is more for me than for Frank.  In my working life, I have always felt that more was better.  More work, more responsibility, more money, more tasks, projects, meetings.  After Frank got hurt, I realized that more was not better, it was just more.  I still find it hard at times not to do all of the things that I CAN do – I try to live with the idea that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.

Next week I am stepping back away from work – not completely, but enough that there will be several days each week when I will not be at work, and that I can focus on the things that need to be done, and to focus on me for a bit.

Trying to hold things together, so tightly, for a year has been hard – so hard that eventually I couldn’t see how hard it was, because I tucked my shoulder down, leaned in, put on my big girl panties every day, and just pushed through.  For people that believe you just work through the pain, it is easy to get lost in how hard it is, and never realize that maybe you need to take a break, and in that, give yourself a break.

So I am fortunate that I can take a break, just for a while.  I have decided to call it breathing room – the goal is to not quit and end up on the couch watching Jerseylicious, but to spend time with Frank at the gym, slowly work through the mountain of paperwork that continues to need follow up, and to follow the path, wherever it may lead.

I am fortunate that there are people that continue to want to hear Frank’s story, our family story, and that follow his recovery.  It warms my heart to know that he is not forgotten, and that people truly care how he is doing.

Part of the transition has always been to move Frank’s updates, my blog, and the other pieces that have been brought to us since the accident, to the new website.  Caring Bridge has been a huge part of our lives for a long time now – and part of me just cannot let go of it.  But eventually, we would like to transition to the new site, which allows people to follow Frank, his recovery, and my continued focus on helping others recovering from, or supporting a family member with, a head injury.  I hope that I can make that transition – my goal was February 1st, but I can tell you that I am just not ready yet.

But I do blog more often on the website than on CB.  My goal, many months ago, was to just do Frank update here, and to move my jibber-jabber to the site – didn’t happen.

I will keep trying.

Frank update of the day – Frank continues to work on several computer cognitive programs. One, called Lumosity, he has done for many months now.  As a baseline, I did a quick free test to give him something to shoot for.  My score at that time was 879.  Frank’s original score was in the 200’s.  He worked on the program on and off, sometimes getting frustrated, sometimes just sick of working on it, and other times he was tired or too busy to work through the program.

Frank recently went back to this program – his score was in the 400’s at that time, still far lower than I would like, and I know that on some level, it concerned him as well.  Over the last four weeks, Frank’s score has continued to improve.

Earlier this evening, Frank came looking for me in our bedroom.  I looked at him, wondering why the funny look on his face.  He stated “I have been waiting for you.”

“For what?”  I did not get much of a response, other than a smile and a “Come look.”

When I went into the kitchen, the computer was up and the results page for today’s testing was on the screen.

The score today – 811.

Are you kidding me with this?

For all of my SLP friends out there, how the heck do you explain significant cognitive improvement one year post accident?!?

He explains it as “What, did you expect anything less?”

It is yet another amazing change, unexplainable, and amazing.  And oh so wonderful.

As I looked at Frank a bit ago, I realized I was looking at a fully engaged, clear, “before” Frank face.  I stopped, with what I know was a puzzled look on my face, and Frank asked “What?”  I told him “You don’t have that face, the head injury face, it’s just you.”

He again, smiled, and laughed at me.

I don’t ever second guess a miracle, I am just startled by the reality of it sometimes.

From fear, one year ago, to today.  An amazing transformation – heartbreaking, trauma filled, painful journey.  But we are here now.  Looking back, although sometimes so painful, it certainly does put things into perspective.

I am grateful that I was able to chronicle this last year – it grounds me and brings things back to what is important about the here and now.

And helps me to remember where we were, and the promises we made about where we want to be. It is time to take a break.  And to breathe.

And for my friend that is waiting to breathe – soon my friend, I think it will be soon.

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