Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

November 24, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving and the Packet of Seeds

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 8:06 am

I’m not going to apologize for posting my Thanksgiving wishes two days early. In a year like 2020 has been, seems all bets are off and I think any measure of thanksgiving is welcome. I don’t think thanksgiving should ever have to wait.

This has been a tough year, no doubt. The stresses of the pandemic and, here in the U.S., the election have been draining. Most are exhausted as we hit the clubhouse turn of 2020.

For those of us who have sustained brain injury, we were uniquely qualified to deal with a situation that changed our whole world in an instant. While the lockdown freaked out most of the world, I have heard many from our brain injury community remark that not much had changed for them. Some even welcomed the quieting of the world around them.

I have posted before how I have recognized similarities in this pandemic and our brain injury lives. The sudden change, the almost-frantic search for information, the amazement and fear, and then….

The gameplan.

Whether it’s brain injury or global pandemic, there comes a time when everyone must recognize that things aren’t going to return to “normal.” Not for a long time. Some of us realized that a month in to restrictions and lockdowns regarding this virus. Others are still struggling.

That goes with brain injury, too.

While many will disagree with me about this, I believe there is hope in admitting reality. That things have changed and some for good. I believe that allowing for a truth like that, whether it is regarding brain injury or the pandemic, actually GIFTS us power. It doesn’t strip us of it.

When we can’t know if and when we might heal all the way from brain injury…and when we can’t know when our world will put this Covid virus behind us and resume what is left of all that we left….we find ourselves with today.

To me it’s like coming out of your house after a tornado has powered through. You look around. You see what’s left. You measure the damage. You lament the losses.

And then you go get the chain saw and the broom and the work gloves and the garbage cans.

And you give thanks.

Thanks, for this? For any of it? After all the damage and destruction and loss and fear and frustration.

Yes, thanks.

I am so thankful this Thanksgiving because I didn’t lose everything. Like everyone, yes, I lost some. This year has been hard and painful and sad. Some families lost three and four and five people to this virus. Some brain injury survivors lost their legs or their homes or their ability to make their own choices.

While I didn’t lose anyone to the virus, I have had to say good-bye to some pretty dear people this year. There’s nothing easy about it and yet…

I am so fortunate and blessed and lucky because I didn’t lose the packet of seeds. I keep them in my pocket, close to my chest. Close to my heart. They are seeds of hope. Promises of better to come. Promises of good to return.

I count myself as one of the very, very fortunate.

Do you?

I still have hope an it is an easy reach for me, even now. So many are not that fortunate. We will gather this Thanksgiving, even as many of us choose not to gather in person. We will gather our thoughts and tally our thanks.

I hope there isn’t enough time in your Thanksgiving Day to tally all the ways you are blessed and fortunate. I hope you are exhausted by the count. Many will look at me like I have three heads but, to me, it really is uncomplicated and clear.

If you are alive, then there is hope that you can make things better. If you can read this, if you can choose that, if you can consider and learn, if you can call up anyone to count on, if you can help, if you can love, if you can be kind or generous…

The counting begins, then.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours. Keep safe. Offer up your special good in every way you have. We all could use second helpings of that.

Love you.



  1. Reblogged this on leslee hare and commented:
    Kara posted early, I’m sharing late 😉 Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    Comment by Leslee Hare — November 30, 2020 @ 9:01 am | Reply

  2. Thank you, Kara, for this bright viewpoint! I agree with you on all accounts! Wishing you a special week!

    Comment by Leslee Hare — November 30, 2020 @ 9:02 am | Reply

    • You make me smile, Leslee! Thanks for the upbeat vibe. Nice to “see” you and I hope you are well. Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — November 30, 2020 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  3. Kara, your TBI book back in 2002, when my husband suddenly pretty much lost everything he’d previously known to brain injury, was almost the only positive book on the subject I could find. I suddenly had a new person in my life. That is after the months of rehabilitation, and I brought him home again. I have been fortunate that the man I now have almost 19 years later, is not bitter, but a sweet loving man, so different from the man I had known. Not that he was bitter or unloving before. However he had been a driven man, mensa quality brain, mover and shaker in our community. Now he spends his days playing computer card games, taking internet tests and in general is content with his life. What you said about the brain injured and the current conditions in this country, is certainly true for us. My life as caregiver these past years, was pretty quiet and we didn’t go places or do much anyway. So life goes on pretty much as it has been, even now. I thank God that personally, as an introvert, I’ve never had an issue with entertaining myself. Good luck with all your endeavors.

    Maybe you would entertain interviewing survivors that did not return to anywhere near as close to normal as you were able to do. How their lives and the lives of their caregivers were impacted and how they have coped with the changes. I know when my husband was first injured, I did not find any resource as to where to go next. So my husband and I have pretty much just trusted God and learned how to cope after being plunged head first into this new life. That was after the hospital doctors wondered where was I going to put my husband when he was able to leave, due to the extent of his injury. They couldn’t believe I was going to take him home and take care of him. So many doctors don’t understand the power of love and faith to create a new life. They wouldn’t even say that he’d ever even feed himself again. One doctor told me that he’d chopped 20 years off his life span. Well he’s 74 now and still determined to improve.

    Comment by Deloris Gardner — December 13, 2020 @ 11:31 am | Reply

    • Hello Wonder Woman Deloris!!! You have made my day with your story of strength and change that works. After helping to take care of my parents for 15 years, I know your path has not been easy. I am super-glad that you have been able to take the small victories where they come and to allow so much to fall away. You are an example for everyone in this community and I admire you. I get what you said about how there were few resources after all the initial care. I found that, too. I wrote the follow-up to the original Fork 20 years after my first book in hopes of providing a tool for those who get lost in “What do I do now?” The journey continues…Without even knowing you in person, I know you have given up much over these years. Hopes and dreams that you imagined for the life with your husband that were, in significant ways, lost. I feel for you and for all the caregivers who stuck in and stuck by when probably half of relationships after brain injury don’t make it. I wish you and your husband all good turns. Good health and good days. I hope you can feel all the spirits you are boosting with your comments here. There are a lot of people out there who are going to say a prayer of thanks for your words. Thank you for sharing. You are extraordinary. May your generosity and kindnesses be returned to you again and again. Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — December 13, 2020 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  4. I didn’t finish my thought above, that after you interview them you could write a new book about the less fortunate TBI survivors.

    Comment by Deloris Gardner — December 13, 2020 @ 11:42 am | Reply

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