Confusing title for this article, isn’t it? Allow me to explain.
It was the middle of the night. Sometime around 3:00 AM, I’d say. Like more nights than I care to — or possible can — remember over these past five years, well, I just couldn’t sleep. I’m excited about our annual outing when the family piles in the van to look at the Christmas lights, but that’s just one thing (of many) on my mind.
I conceded that I was up for the entire night and went into Ryan’s room to make myself a cup of coffee. A damned strong one at that!
In a hushed voice I told the nurse that I couldn’t sleep and plan on having Ryan dressed and ready for me to get him up an hour earlier. I was looking in Ryan’s direction as I told her the change in morning plans.
Ryan rolled his head, almost on cue, as if to communicate his annoyance with being bounced out of bed so early! It look like he was telling me, “Dad, are you flippin’ kidding me!”. Of course, I doubt I’ll ever know if this was what happened.
Certainly not any time soon, by all indications.
It’s easy — and frustrating —- not ever knowing for sure. Is it a misinterpretation of random movements with what I yearn for as purposeful? I always convince myself that it has meaning in that moment. Yes, by damn, I deserve at least that. All I can tell you is, if not for his brain injury, I would have no doubt. Zero!
Ah, brain injury. That’s the kicker, literally (yes, that’s an unveiled dig at violent-felon, Austin Vantrease). There’s just no way to say for certain. How dare I risk looking for, let alone believing in, anything is done with intent. It’ll break my heart in the end. It’s always best to stay guarded when it comes to such things. To simply accept that it might have happened and keep looking for it, but not go popping the champagne cork quite yet.
I then gave it another try shortly after 4:00 AM. This time he didn’t move a lick. You see how it can make a guy doubt himself?
Brain injury distorts everything. Few statements irk me like when someone calls his (or my) existence “the new normal”. There is NOTHING normal about it. It’s… well… incredibly abnormal. I’m here to tell you that just because something is consistent that doesn’t make it one-iota normal.
Take Ryan’s heart rate. It’s often in the upper forties (40 beats per minute), especially when we first put him to bed. There are occasions when it dips into the thirties!
New? No, not since the injury.
Normal? No, and hell no!
Or how about his body temperature running one to three degrees cooler? I’ve had to argue with medical professionals that Ryan was running a low-grade fever at 98.6 degrees… or as what people believe as “normal”. Huh, normal! There’s no such thing in this tragedy. I’ll never get use to his vital’s monitor alarming on and off throughout the night. Who could?
This is not the new normal. This is the new Ryan. I loved him with all my heart then, and I love him equally now. He’s not the same, but he’s my boy no matter the devastation cast down on him and this family. Honestly though, it feels like I love two separate Ryan’s. Like he’s two different people.
I will always love him despite how many times he becomes someone new.
Holiday Card Update: Most of the holiday cards went out yesterday and the rest are going first thing this morning. I hope they make it to your mailbox by tomorrow!
- Holiday Outing (with photos)
- 2014 Year-In-Review
- Updated Website Statistics for 2014 (View 2013’s here)