The last 365 days have been really f!@#$%&g hard. Grief, morning, pain, sorrow, tears, hoping, wishing, praying, disbelief, gut wrenching reality… ugh. I don’t believe these wounds we have will ever truly heal… but maybe they get a bit scabby at times. We don’t feel the pain quite a much… until something comes along and rips that scab off and it feels like we are starting over… the wound is fresh again… and once again, we must begin the healing process.
I grew up in church, learning to forgive people… but I also learned that people need to be held accountable for their actions. Over the last year, I have truly struggled with forgiveness… but the internal battle I have is that certain people need to held accountable for their actions.
Dad’s death was ultimately the result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by the negligence of another human being. We all make mistakes, but in this case, someone’s laziness resulted in an accident, which caused a TBI, and led to my dad’s death. Pretty shitty, huh? This is where I’m going to call out not only the person responsible for my father’s accident… but any of us who have walked by an unsafe situation and not either corrected it ourselves, or been a squeaky wheel until the problem was corrected. I want to punch the person who didn’t prevent my father’s accident… but I can’t (primarily because I don’t want to go to jail for assault), because doing so would be entirely hypocritical… as I am staring at a pair of shoes on the stairs that someone could easily trip over.
You know what sucks about TBIs and other unseen illnesses? YOU CAN’T SEE THEM! If Dad was missing a chunk of his skull, he would have received sympathy and support based on his physical appearance… but his TBI wasn’t something that could be seen. He didn’t lose his hair, he wasn’t missing a limb… physically, he looked alright. BUT, if you took just a minute to speak to dad, you would very quickly realize he wasn’t alright. What blows my mind is how many people saw him, knew that something had happened, but didn’t even talk to him. WTF IS YOUR PROBLEM?
For fifteen months, with the exception of family, doctors, and therapists… my dad was essentially alone. Let that sink in. He was alone with someone he didn’t recognize… because it certainly wasn’t the same version of himself that he had grown to know in the years before his accident. Where were all of the people he had once called his friends?
Now, here I go being a bit hypocritical again. I am guilty of popping up, offering my support, and then disappearing… but I have been trying to get better at this. We need to check in on people. Just because it’s been a week, or a month, or a year since an event… doesn’t mean people aren’t still in pain, recovering, or in need of support. I understand that finding the right words to say can be difficult, but a simple… “Hey, just thinking of you today.” or “Hey, how is everything going.” or “Hey, let me know if you need to chat.” or “Hey, what night would work best for me to bring you dinner this week.” All of these options are great. You never know when someone needs to talk.
Finally, there is one doctor who completely threw my dad to the wolves. He lied on his evaluation of Dad’s condition… even contradicting himself… and I’m not finished holding this person accountable. (Also, he is part of a VERY broken Workman’s Comp system.) Because of this individual, Dad’s benefits (which covered ALL of his therapies, specialists, counseling, etc) were revoked, despite the improvements he was making. This individual’s malpractice took away the majority of Dad’s hope… and the uneducated words of his former employer (because I’m sure he had no idea what the repercussions of his actions would be) hit like a big giant f#@! you.
As a general rule… don’t be a d!@#. Sometimes people make a hasty decision that will result in a couple more bucks in their pocket… but in the case of our family, I truly believe that if people wouldn’t have been so selfish, Munchie would be playing with his Pap and my husband and brother in law would have an amazing father in law to talk to about the crazy women they have married.
When Dad died, we heard from people we hadn’t heard from in years. Family friends, relatives, former neighbors… and over the last year, many of them have stayed in touch, continued to offer support, and be present in our lives. Today, marking a year without Dad, I know people will again pop up to offer their support, condolences, words of encouragement, etc. While appreciative, I can’t help but wonder where some of these people have been in the last year. Maybe we were on their minds, but they didn’t say so. Maybe they forgot. Maybe they were just too busy dealing with their own problems.
Don’t just wait until something shitty happens in someone’s life to check in. Just because there isn’t a big event (or just because they don’t post it on Facebook) doesn’t mean someone doesn’t need a friend. Check in with people… just because it’s a nice thing to do.