You must know, I love to read your comments and emails. Honestly, I bet most people don’t understand how much it means to me. There are many who are better at expressing my feelings — in their comments — than I can. I’ll write a post then read the associated comments and think, “Yes! That what I meant to say. Thank you for clarifying my ramblings.” One person in particular (who will be identified simply as Paula) does this quite well.
Still, (almost) every comment makes what I write exponentially better or encourages me to stay the course. Last week I received an email from a follower, Jacquelyn Cowley (name used by her permission). I thought it might add perspective on what my family goes through… everyday. She spoke of her ability to understand my suffering because of her own similar experience. For her it didn’t last well over 5 years as with my family, but it hurts just as much. I also know that you, as a supporter of Ryan, must have gone through some life-shattering turmoil yourself or are innately empathetic; enough so that you can feel others pain.
For those who fit this description, I suppose it never stops hurting. Who really cares what brought us to this point?
Thank you for hurting… right along with me.
Here is what she wrote:
I’m reaching out to you because I know your grief. I have followed this blog [RyansRally.org] for well over a year now. The pain and sadness used to shake me… I couldn’t imagine the pain you felt. What a huge responsibility to forever be indebted to the ones you love… for a reason that was out of your control. The wave of emotions through pain, sadness, anger, then back around again.
I would read people’s comments and how sweet and kind they were to someone they barely met… then there were those uneducated fools who have to troll the internet looking to stir the pot. I actually donated to the Amazon Gift Registry because I thought “every little bit helps… I’m sure he could use a new pair of pajamas”.
Little did I know that just a few short months following…. my family would be right in your shoes.
My sister [Michelle] suffered a brain aneurysm July 2, 2014; she was just 26 years old. Because she had age on her side, she survived the ruptured aneurysm and remained in a comatose-state for two months following. Everyday spent in the hospital with no response. She had seen the best-of-the-best in the neurosurgery department. [At] the beginning of August was finally considered “semi-comatose” and off to rehab.
After just a week in rehab she suffered another hemorrhage in her brain… ultimately the final “blow”. Again, she survived, but was given a 10% chance of waking-up and 0% of a meaningful recovery. She was [respiratory] vent dependent and unresponsive.
On October 14, 2014 my 26-year-old sister passed-away due to a brain injury that none of us had any idea about.
That’s when I joined the “What is God Bandwagon”. No “God” would do this to my sweet sister, No God would take away [your] son. This is not the cycle-of-life. No parent should have to take care of their child for their rest of their life… or in my parent’s case, no parent should have to bury their child.
I am not sharing this story to put my grief on you… because I sure as hell know the sadness that looms over you. But I wanted to share that through her entire journey with brain injury, I found myself referring back to your page. I shared it with my family, I read it at night when I was laying in bed.
We did two short weeks of hospice care at home with Michelle and I now know how trying the process of taking care of a loved-one really is. It’s something that no person should ever have to endure BUT we do it. We do it because our love for them outweighs the sleepless nights, the bathing, the changing of the pads, the turning to prevent bedsores, the medicine administrations, etc, etc, etc. It truly is a never-ending cycle and I commend you. To do this daily, all the while maintaining a blog to keep others informed of your daily struggle, is really a feat.
In closing this letter, I want you to know I am there with you. I understand the sadness… the constant fight with yourself about all that’s lost. Michelle never got to get married, have children, and watch them grow. I understand the anger because all of this was stolen in an INSTANT… just like that, they are gone. I understand the struggle… forcing yourself out of bed each day to take care of your son.
I see what this has done to my parents— that happiness that was drained from our life. As much “fun” that we could have on vacation, a holiday, etc. will still NEVER be as “fun” as it was. There is a piece that’s been stolen from our lives.
You are doing an excellent job… you really are. Taking care of Michelle for two weeks while I was 36-weeks pregnant was indescribable. You’ve done this for FIVE YEARS… 5 WHOLE YEARS and he’s still hanging strong. I know first-hand that nothing anyone can say will lift the burden or make you feel better. There are no words to reconcile or rationalize the dis-justice that these young souls have had done. Just keep up the good work, and know that there are others (us here in PA) who have walked in your shoes…
Even just for a short while.
Here’s the thing, it helps being reminded that I’m not the only person on this earth to hurt so deeply… to ache from exhaustion… to find a way to make it through one more day. Selfishly, I find your grief, despair, anger, struggles, and COURAGE as a way to cope.
Is that so wrong?
No. It’s not… because I hope you find the same resilience, love, and dedication in me. Well, at least for as long as I can hold out. Yes, you and I share a certain kinship that some will never understand (thankfully).