I’m always baffled by so-called Christians being among the most hateful people in the world. I don’t pretend to accept them or their short-sighted behaviors and in fact, will actively work to stay as disengaged as possible. After years of seeing this behavior and hearing the rhetoric, I’ve tended to view professed Christians with a jaundiced eye.
Today, I saw love in action. True love guided by the tenets of faith and translated into real works. Two people took the time to take care of us with groceries, with kind words, with some monetary gifts, with their faith in action. That they are angels is beyond doubt; that they are fully human with human foibles is also beyond doubt. I think that those of us who look at people of faith with misgivings tend to paint humans with a broad brush and fail to notice that all of us are subject to the perceptions that may not be as based in reality as we might wish them to be.
For someone to accept me for who I am, flaws and all means that I also need to accept them. It doesn’t mean that I need to understand their motivations or their innermost thoughts or even how they go about their day-day-day lives. It means that by whatever measure I look for in myself I should be about the business of using that same measure for others, regardless of belief or nonbelief. Those angels may lose their wings in an hour; that’s not my problem. That those angels showed up with their wings in full glory at a time when I was feeling desperate means the world to me, and for that, I can acknowledge their divinity and humanity in all the glory that is shown to me.
Is the inevitable question when we leave a store larger than a 7-11. It’s not dementia, it’s traumatic brain injury. This isn’t dementia talking, this is traumatic brain injury. It could be the result of stroke, motorcycle wreck, or an IED blowing apart a Humvee in Afghanistan. It’s misunderstood, taken too lightly, and exacts a toll on survivor and caregiver alike.
TBI survivors can be perceived as bitter, angry, stubborn, moody sons-of-bitches that just want to make everyone around them miserable. To this day, my sister cannot be in the same room as Mother, a stroke survivor, so she does the next best thing and pays Mom’s cable bill. Guilt alleviation by cash register. It’s often easier to write off the emotional storms as mere personality traits than it is to dig for the underlying causes. Sometimes, it’s not just pure meanness that TBI survivors exhibit: The vast dark spaces in their brains where old memories flit by and new ones refuse to form are enough to drive anyone batshit crazy.
Picture it. One day, you wake up and you intend to drive to work, but when you get in the car, you don’t know where to put the key, and in fact, you don’t know where you are going until you find your list with directions on how to get to work. Or you look in the refrigerator and don’t recognize any of the bottles, cans or food containers. Sure, you know what work is, and you know food is stored in the big cold box, but you can’t draw out what to do with any of it. Hundreds of everyday mundane actions can spell panic to a TBI survivor.
I am learning how to ask questions appropriately, how to approach situations delicately, and how to step in the do the necessary things without infringing on the survivors’ clinging to a sense of self when all is the unknown, even in their brains.