My gut twists with that kind of anticipation one gets when they know something horrible is about to happen. I breathe deeply and look at the calendar.
It is July 10, 2017, four days before the anniversary of my brain injury.
My inner clock reminds me of this day every year, just like it reminds me of my father’s death, and every major event I’ve ever encountered. It remembers without knowing.
A force clutches at my throat, so tight, I can barely breathe. I inhale the sticky summer air. Tremors crawl beneath my skin, a little earthquake inside me, invisible to others, more than real to me. It is the beginning of a small panic attack as I remember the reason I am in this state.
I live in fear of this day, a day I both remember and forget.
July 14, 2010:
Red, yellow, and green hot-air balloons danced across the summer sky, in a world as blue as the ocean, on a day as hot as hell. In the distance, the Cascades rose, showcasing frosting-glazed tips.
My husband and I sat in our car, waiting to turn into a tiny fruit stand. A screech sounded, a noise so powerful, it sucked the air from my lungs, and arched my back into one solid mass of muscle.
My world went black, a darkness so deep I can only imagine it akin to death. A moment when time was erased, and crushing metal and flinging brains were neither heard nor felt.
Within days, I lost the ability to read, write, speak, and comprehend. My world, my life, was stolen.
You know the rest of the story, or pieces of it, anyway. You know I survived. But it wasn’t easy, and I’m not completely better. Though I can once again read, write, and comprehend, and I can talk faster than a storm, I live with a residual that never goes away.
I live in a state of fear.
We all have fears, but when one has suffered a trauma, fears can sink beneath our skin, living in our veins as if they are blood themselves.
As I am reminded of my anniversary, fear tightens its grip around my chest, trying to steal my life. Fear is my ticking time bomb.
There is a funny thing about fear. It can stop us from pursuing life, or push us into it.
Fear once stopped me from living. Even before the accident, I was often afraid. I lived in a little cocoon that became my tiny world. I didn’t want to go on anything high, for fear for I might fall off. I didn’t like camping, for fear of bugs. Fear was my enemy. But one day, I had to make fear into my friend.
After the accident, I needed new doctors. Fear squeezed my hand and choked my neck as I sought out help. When I enrolled in writing classes, fear was the pit in my stomach, the hug around my neck. Fear helped me meet people, and make new friends. Fear brought me to places I have never been.
Fear is my enemy, but often my friend. Without fear, I wouldn’t be where I am. In spite of fear, or maybe because of it, I move on.