Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

January 14, 2009

Both My Birthdays

Tomorrow I’ll turn 44.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll turn 13.

I received my renewed license today and I checked it out.  I  was surprised they didn’t put my weight on there, especially given that I had, incredibly, lost 25 pounds the day I filled out the paperwork. 

I asked around and  found that none of my female friends’ licenses have their weight listed on them.  I’m guessing that’s  because a woman couldn’t stand to lose six pounds and have that six pounds of evil still shouting from her license.  Even for a day.  It would bog down the system with every woman getting a new license every time she lost three pounds or seven pounds.

While I appreciate each and every one of my forty-four years, I am especially fond of the last thirteen.   On January 31st it will have been 13 years since I sustained my injury.

I don’t mark it like I once did but I mark it.  It is a searing, singing, soaring reminder of how many years I almost didn’t have.   How many moments of love and laughter.  How many sunsets I might have missed.  How many meals, coffees and beers I almost didn’t get to meet friends over.  How many great songs, great shows, great stories, great games…

There are people I’ve met, family I’ve adored, places I’ve visited, moments I’ve shared, things I’ve learned…A niece and a nephew I would never have known.

How precious is life.

These last days I’ve been bothered again and again with the report of the gazillionaire who threw himself in front of a train after losing his fortune in the Madoff scandal.   It’s not so much that he threw himself in front of a train, although that’s awful enough.  It’s not even that the article said he’s NOT EVEN THE FIRST to throw himself in front of a train after recent financial devastation.  Positively horrific.

It was that the article said he did it because “he had lost everything” AND that he leaves behind a wife and four children.

That’s the kicker, right there.

For a man I’m going to assume was good with numbers, I have no idea how he tallied that he had lost everything when he had a wife and four kids waiting at home.  How did he add everything and come up with nothing?

I asked myself just what I live for and what makes life worthwhile every day.  I counted until tears came to my eyes at the amount of blessings I enjoy.   When I lost virtually everything after my injury, the list didn’t get shorter.  It got longer.

Now, I’m not saying money isn’t important.  Unfortunately, it is.  We have to have some and we have to make some.  Most of us have had to struggle over it at some point and a good many have fought with significant others over it.   It’s one of the greatest stresses anyone has (especially in this economy) and, too often, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough of it left at the end of the month.

I don’t wish that man standing on the deck of that train station would have had more money on that fateful day.  I wish he would have had time.  I wish he would have gifted himself more time.

I’ve known people who killed themselves, or tried to.  I try to imagine where they would have been now two, three, four years past the circumstances that led them to take their lives.   Makes me sad.  Though time doesn’t heal all wounds, it heals most.    Five, ten, fifteen years from now when one of his kids is walking down the aisle or having a baby of their own, he likely would  have been so grateful he stayed…

I wonder how he learned, or who taught him, that losing your life should be part of losing your way of life.  That man didn’t become poor when he lost his fortune.  He became poor when he failed to realize how rich he continued to be.



  1. This is sad but is just what I needed to read today.

    Comment by Thomas — October 24, 2011 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

    • Feel sad and crying and grieving these injuries is what we all need to do. To allow the sadness to have its moment. There is a lot of loss, after all. When we cry our eyes out and release all that sadness. let’s just try to fill that new space with something better. :))

      Comment by karaswanson — October 24, 2011 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

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