Sarah Kishpaugh

Love, Light, Strength (and Glue)

Five years ago, my husband, Miles, who led a tree crew, could work like a horse. A normal week for him was 60-plus hours. In his spare time he built fences and decks for our fixer-upper house. Meanwhile, I fed the kids and ran them around, shopped at Home Depot and paid the bills.

Life was hectic but fun. Then one day Miles was overseeing a complicated removal when two trees crashed down in a way they weren’t supposed to, and an 80-pound branch struck him squarely in the forehead. He spent two months at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, first in the intensive-care unit, then surgery and finally inpatient rehabilitation.

During this time, the only thoughts I allowed myself were in the form of a mantra: “Love, Light, Strength.” I’d say it over and over in the shower or while driving when I recognized fear creeping in.

When we brought Miles home, he didn’t look so bad. You could tell he’d had surgery because of the stitches running from ear to ear over the top of this head. But you wouldn’t have guessed that he had been in a coma and that he hadn’t opened his eyes for a month.

I knew better. I knew that he felt like squashed garbage and that his brain was mush. He wandered from room to room with his head in his hands wondering what had hit him. He felt nauseated and slept most of the day.

When he told me he didn’t “feel love,” I tried to stay calm.

Friends and family stepped in and started a fund-raiser, finished our bathroom remodeling and decorated our Christmas tree. I called Victoria at the arts center where I had been volunteering and said, “I’m sorry I can’t finish writing the auction catalog.”

“Don’t be silly,” she said. “Let us know what we can do.”

Somehow I had taken in the false information that rehabilitation from brain injury would take no longer than a year. “O.K.,” I told myself. “I can do anything for a year.”

Selected Works

Essay
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Nonfiction
Bitch Magazine
Guest Blogs
Feminist Wednesday
The Writer in the World

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