Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

March 20, 2009

Maybe The Miracle…

I was in an airport one day and a man came up to me and asked me why I used a cane.  I told him about the balance problems I have since my injury.  He says to me, sure as sure can be, “The reason you aren’t cured and you didn’t get a miracle is because you don’t have enough faith in God.”

Now, this was a total stranger and our conversation, up to that point, had consisted of about three fairly brief sentences.  But he was sure.  Confident. I said to him, “Sir, you don’t know anything about me or my relationship with God.  Perhaps it never occurred to you that my standing here, given the circumstances of my car crash, is exactly the miracle God intended?”

Wherever I go to speak and whenever I come across survivors and their family members and friends online, I’m often asked if I will pray for their loved one who has been traumatically brain injured.  At one particular event, a woman came up and pulled me aside and told me how important it was that I meet her son who was severely injured, almost dead, in  a vehicular crash.  As I was walking to meet the kid, she told me how they pray daily for him to be healed and asked me several times if I’d pray for him to be healed.  She described how awful and serious the car crash was and how her son had been through this and been through that.

I met the kid.  Nice, handsome young man.  I spoke with him for several minutes.  He didn’t have any obvious problems speaking or processing.   He wasn’t using a chair or a cane or crutches.   I asked him what his biggest challenges are and he said his only real problem was that, when he was tired at the end of the day, his arm hung a little at his side.   But he joked that he played soccer so it didn’t really matter because you can’t use your arms anyway.  His mother confirmed the hanging arm and said, “Yes, we are praying for a miracle that his arm returns and doesn’t hang at the end of the day.  Kara, please pray for him too.” 

I looked at her and quietly said, “I think your miracle has already come,” and I walked away.  Incredulous. 

Natasha Richardson, by all accounts, barely bumped her head and was talking and joking after it.  And now she’s dead.   They call it the “Talk and Die”.   Brain bleed, coma, no brain stem activity, death.

That’s it.  Here’s a young woman with a loving husband and teenagers, in the prime of her life.  Close-knit family.  Talented, well thought of, attractive, personable.  Gone.

If you’re a TBI survivor and you’re reading this right now, maybe your miracle has already come.  So many of us spend so much time hating this and cursing it and praying for miracles to cure symptoms which, in the big picture, shouldn’t be measured when qualifying successful recovery.  When you have come inches from death and when others are dying every day after seemingly innocent and less severe incidents, do you really need to have that slight hanging arm at the end of a long day healed and cured by God????

Natasha Richardson is one of the latest who doesn’t get to curse this injury and hate this injury.  That is left for her grieving family, friends and fans.

Maybe the miracle has already come.  Maybe instead of waiting and hoping and praying for residual symptoms to disappear and spending time cursing their stay, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge and be grateful for the miracle that is this.  Right here.

I never believed  that God needed to provide me any more of a gift than I already enjoy.  When someone gives you a rainbow, you don’t go looking to see if they brought roses too.  I could have been so easily dead that day…Seems ridiculous, and worse, to ask for  more.

Maybe we need to take a look at what it is we’re praying for.  Instead of asking that my legs would start working right or that my speech wouldn’t get messed up when I’m tired, I ask that I don’t ever waste the opportunity to hug like I mean it, to forgive, to be kind, to show love, to do the right thing.

Instead of asking that I remember better or deal with crowds better, I ask that I don’t waste another day failing to appreciate the people, pets, abilities and opportunities I am so blessed to enjoy.

More than most, we survivors of TBI and other death-defying events and conditions and diseases, must remind ourselves every day that we are, in fact, the lucky ones.  Make no mistake about it.   We still get to choose every morning what kind of day ours is going to be when so many are gone by nightfall.

There’s nothing to be bitter and angry about when you realize that the miracle has already come.



  1. Your miracle is to be alive. This made me smile.

    Comment by ajlouny — March 28, 2009 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

  2. i understand that i should be grateful for how unbelievably fortunate i am. actually i feel i am blessed by how my tbi affects me. i have to remind myself of that though. sometimes when i feel like i’ve lost so much, and it hurts so bad that i dont have the same friends, dont work with the same people, dont live independently any longer, i have to actually remind myself of how fortunate i am, how much worse it could be. i feel guilty over the tremendous sense of loss that hurts me, i feel guilty when i feel like i’ve lost so much. i feel guilty for feeling bad about my little losses when i realize how much worse it could’ve been. nonetheless, i do feel a tremendous sense of loss, it does hurt when i realize that everything is different now.

    Comment by Stephanie — March 31, 2009 @ 1:25 pm | Reply

  3. Hey Stephanie:
    It’s OK to be real. We’re only human and our losses are huge and they hurt. You don’t have to feel guilty for grieving something that is very real. In essence, you lost your favorite person in the whole world and that hurts. I think it’s perfectly healthy and natural for all of us to feel that. Thirteen years later and it stills comes sometimes for me and makes me sad. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think the problems arise when we cannot recover from the grief and anger. When we can’t, at some point, actually start to live in this life. Then we need a little help to get us going. I wouldn’t beat yourself up over very real and human and healthy emotions that reflect your losses. You have every right to grieve them here and there as they come up for you. It’s after we cry ourselves to sleep that we get up the next morning and try again. When we stop getting up and trying again that next morning, that’s when we need to take a look at it and get some help dealing with it. Don’t beat yourself up. You have enough battles already. Good great giggly luck to you. Thanks for writing. Kara

    Comment by karaswanson — March 31, 2009 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  4. Hi Kara,

    This is a beautiful, uplifting post.

    I am always grateful that I am “One of the lucky ones”, and I have been fortunate that all the others I have met who have suffered a brain trauma seem to have a similar, positive approach.

    But, as you say to Stephanie, there will always be times when one feels “It wasn’t meant to be this way”, and that’s when it’s good to have someone to talk to.

    Thank you for that little bit of inspiration.


    Comment by honorarynewfie — April 2, 2009 @ 6:11 am | Reply

    • Thanks, Tom. I’m so glad that are living this life and coming through your challenges. I appreciate the kind words and I wish you so well. Best to you, Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — April 3, 2009 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  5. As did you, Ajlouny. 🙂

    Comment by karaswanson — April 3, 2009 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  6. Wow–this is what i needed to read. My daughter suffered a TBI a year ago. She is 17 yrs. old and dealing with so much and as caregiver i feel as i am dealing with the same stuff. There is so much going on i am literally going bonkers, i need help but i dont know what kind–im drowning

    Comment by bethhaws — April 7, 2009 @ 11:14 pm | Reply

  7. Hey Bethhaws:
    I always feel especially bad for kids who are around your daughter’s age because they all look the same and dress the same and wear their hair the same. It’s so hard to be different at that age and I imagine it must be so difficult for the parents as well. Caregiving is exhausting and challenging and I hope you’re getting some help. Please let me help if I can. Write to me at K24Fork@aol.com Let’s see if we can’t help you from going bonkers. 🙂

    Comment by karaswanson — April 8, 2009 @ 12:25 am | Reply

  8. Hi Miss Kara!

    This is such a great line of thinking, and I so appreciate it today (as I do every day). You always make me THINK. And that is a GOOD thing!


    Comment by Barb George — April 16, 2009 @ 2:22 am | Reply

    • It’s a good thing we’re all still thinking, eh? Smiling here. Thanks for the note. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — April 16, 2009 @ 2:29 am | Reply

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