It was on this porch just a year ago that I sat staring at the lawn and birds with unfocused vision and thoughts. I could barely think, but I knew in my heart that this was a place of rest. Sitting on a bench, looking out at the birds and flowers, listening to the wind chimes, and spotting a hummingbird on the feeder above my head every so often. This was a place of rest, peace, and hope. Despite my inability to communicate with the world around me and despite my inability to comprehend what was happening each day, I knew I could stay here. I truly believe that peace and tranquility helped heal my brain.
It was so comforting to not have to interact and be fearful of making a mistake with words, names, or sentence structure. It was so comforting to be at rest knowing my mind didn’t have to work to remember things, my lips didn’t have to form words.
My viral meningitis so often made me feel as though I was a prisoner inside of my own mind. Yet, in this beauty, I could look out through the bars and enjoy the scene around me. I was trapped inside and yet I could feel as though the world around me was trying to cheer me up.
Most of my friends and family didn’t know how sick I was. Viral meningitis is funny like that. You can’t see the brain damage it has done. You can’t imagine how much it has taken from the person. The medicine didn’t help either. It took away the pain, yes, but, it also took away my emotions and my ability to process them. The illness took memories that I’ll never get back, it took my ability to do math quickly in my head, it took spelling, vocabulary, processing, word pronunciation, and most of all…
It took time. Time away from being me. Time away from fulfilling goals and dreams for the last year. Time away from being with friends and family.
I’m still not quite sure they really understand how sick I was and how much it still impacts me. If you want to know what it is like, you really have to take the time to ask and understand. That’s difficult for us as humans. It’s much harder to listen to someone struggle to come up with the right words to explain how much pain they are in and how badly they feel than to just say, “hope your day is going well!” It’s much harder to drive to visit and sit on a porch with someone while they sit and stare at nothing and come up with things to say. Humans struggle with that.
It just reminds me. When someone is sick, do something. When they are ill, be with them and make yourself uncomfortable even just for a little while so they can feel your presence and know that you have their back.
I know many people felt like they did enough when I was sick. I never felt that way. I always wanted them to come over and sit with me on the porch. I always wanted them to send a card or text or call. Something to check in with me.