2015 was fraught with loss and disappointments. It's called life. It has its ups and downs. From this came lessons and personal growth. And while it didn't ease the pain or lingering sorrows, it did give way to change by breaking down walls, peeling back layers and digging deep to reach the source.
More than 60 million people in the United States care for a loved one at home. They may be caring for a child, spouse or a parent and that care may range from minimal intervention to full-time dependent care.
It has always been my practice in the month of November to be truly mindful of the things in life for which I am grateful. Sometimes reflecting on the big - the obvious moments in life; and sometimes, just pausing to see the wonder of it all.
This evening on Bryant University Campus in Bello Hall a group gathered. They came together to celebrate. The reason they exist is not cause for celebration. It is one born of tragedy at the hand of destructive decisions.
Yesterday Tori and I went to the movies and were looking forward to some quality mother/daughter alone time. From the moment we pulled into the parking lot it seemed as though we were just that – alone; invisible.
12 years ago on the night before Easter while in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Hasbro Children's Hospital, I sat vigil throughout the night by my daughters bedside. We were on the cusp of change. Decisions had to be made. Choices, which would affect what direction we would take and ultimately what the future could be for our family.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. For those living with brain injury there is no one month, no one season that brain injury is most prevalent. It is always there. In recognition of the 5.3 million Americans living with TBI-related illnesses, the Brain Injury Association of America has chosen for its theme for 2015-2017; Not Alone.
Early today a visit to the second floor of 2 Dudley Street brought back strong memories. It was there after valeting the van, exiting the elevator, walking away from the check in counter and finishing up with what has become our routine x-rays, the flashbacks came.
One year ago this evening I wrote about anticipation as we settled into a hospital hotel room in New York City. It was Columbus Day 2013 and when I went to bed that evening it was the realization of a dream that had begun 8 years prior.
Over the last 2 months we have said goodbye to several people instrumental on our journey. Goodbye is never easy, though there are certain scenarios where it is meant to be for it is part of a necessary cycle. Though the intellect understands, it does not make it any easier on the heart.
Today I run the BoldrDash – for the 3rd time. In many ways, each time is a first. A first, not only because Lynn Hall the race director and her team keep coming up with a new and improved course, but because each time another layer is added to the reasons for why I choose to be BOLD.
Life as you know it can change in a moment. Most times change of any significance is the outcome of some master plan or concerted effort towards a desired goal. And sometimes that change can be the result of a choice, self-directed or randomly selected – consequences you could never have predicted, imagined or even thought possible.
It is midnight and after arriving home from the MADD Candlelight Vigil Tori is finally settled in bed. After all the years of attending this solemn event this is the first year I did not trust my voice, or my legs enough to walk to the podium to speak and to light a candle. It certainly was not for want or desire.
When Tori was 9 years old she rode a horse for the first time outside of birthday parties and pony rides. The horse was named Sparky and within 10 minutes he broke away from the trainer and threw her to the ground. Tori got right back up and on the same horse.
Webster's Dictionary states the definition of anticipation as 1. A feeling of excitement that something is about to happen and, 2. The act of preparing for something. Carly Simon says "anticipation is making her wait". I say, anticipation becomes reality Tuesday morning, the 15th of October.
On September 27, 1990 a beautiful light came into this world and appropriately we named her Tori. There was no way we could tell what lie ahead and yet her name says it all. In Japanese Tori means bird, able to fly above and in old English the translation is for victory or victorious. The American translation is conqueror.
A portion of this evening was spent at a MADD Board meeting. Appropriately so, each meeting is opened with a moment of silence dedicated to those we have lost and to those altered forever by a choice. Before proceeding with the rest of the agenda it has been our tradition for a member to present a question to the group. This evenings question – “what is your favorite sound?” In typical fashion our answers were a wonderful mix of humor and heart. Sometimes when I hear the question I silently beg the round to start at another end of the table allowing time for me to think of an answer – no time was needed this evening as I know the answer to this question as well as I know my own name.
To me, a perfect day is all about balance - the yin and yang if you would. Yesterday was a perfect day. It started as always with my girl. Emergency backup stepped in so I could be off to a meeting and the day progressed from there.
Every year my dad starts off his children and grandchildren with a garden. It is up to each of them to keep it going. Tori is no exception. As part of her therapy we use a raised container garden situated just so which enables her, using hand over hand techniques to water, weed and hopefully soon, harvest the fruits of her labor.
This week alone I have spoken directly with 3 families regarding rehabilitation facilities for brain injury. Unfortunately, their loved ones, with serious injury and facing long recoveries, have no options within our state. And so, once again families leave these familiar borders.
Ten years ago today we left the sanctity of Hasbro Childrens Hospital and with it the doctors and nurses we had come to rely on for survival. We also left the borders of Rhode Island and therefore, the comforting reach of family and friends. For the next eight months Brighton Massachusetts and bordering Watertown, but more specifically-Franciscan Childrens Hospital became our home.
Over the last years I have marked this day in many ways. Always reflecting on the moments leading up to, the desperate moments of, and the heart wrenching moments after the crash. It has been spent seeking out our saviors and communicating with those so closely connected to those horrific and forever embedded moments.
The Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island held their annual conference on Friday. I was truly honored and surprised to receive an award. So much so I fell out of my shoes on my way up to receive it. Typical Cathy move.
What’s not typical is the initiation into this club. I’ve been a member for just a day shy of 10 years now. Early on a wise man said to me in terms of giving back, “those who can should”. Long before that, however, a young girl simply lived by the code of Pay It Forward.
Coming into the MADD Candlelight Vigil this evening Tori was quite uncomfortable and extremely vocal. At several points I considered turning around. By the time we arrived she had calmed although still rigid and voicing displeasure. And then there were the faces of the people you have come to know and love...
Friday, November 30th, something amazing happened. While Tori was at the horse farm for a therapy session a young volunteer asked if she could speak to me in private. Stepping aside she asked if I had every spoken at Cranston West High School. As I answered that yes I had, her eyes started to tear.
Thursday, November 29, 2012 for me was a remarkably unremarkable day. It started routinely enough. Revelry came at the usual time and there was the “changing of the guard” – or report if you would, as the CNA gave her comments on the night. Tori was in limbo – not quite awake yet not quite asleep and I sat quietly bedside keeping watch until the next caregiver arrived.
Yesterday was a day filled with emotion. And those emotions ran from one end of the scale all the way to the other. It was a day that started and ended with conversations with moms dealing with similar circumstances; caring for young adult children whose lives where forever altered because of one moment in time.
I started to lay out everything I needed for the morning and went to the website for some last minute advice. For the first time I saw the layout of the course and a synopsis of the obstacles. I must admit for a moment I started to have doubts about my abilities to face this task.
Several weeks ago I sat with a mom of another young woman altered forever many years ago by an assault on her brain. We spoke for hours. She said something that first shocked and then halted me….It has taken me as many weeks to process and to come to terms with some of our conversation. Mind you...it was not her words but my own fears that I needed to reconcile.
My mother told the greatest stories. She was so animated as we would be rolling on the floor listening to the misadventures of her youth. She could be incredibly silly, break out in tiny little character voices or be in great big full voice in song. She could also be incredibly firm and didn’t earn the nickname Big Rit’ for nothing.
Sitting bedside with my daughter, my eyes gravitate to a shelf near her bed. It houses a card given to her by a wonderful woman. Inside the card is filled with words of inspiration. Outside, there is just one word. Believe.
While gathering reading and writing materials for distraction over the next few days, I came upon a journal entry. As I read the words written almost 8 years ago I could still feel the same intense emotion. The entry speaks to friendship, acceptance and hope. Something relevant through all time.
Massachusetts State Trooper Ellen Engelhardt died Wednesday, June 1, 2011. For 22 years she served the state of Massachusetts proudly as one its first female troopers. For eight years she lived with the devastating afterrmath of a severe brain injury at the hands of a drunk driver.
Eight years ago Lauren Kearney honored her fallen friend by donning a white gi for her performance on the nighttime stage at the 2003 Ocean State Grand Nationals. This year, 2011 and every day in between, she has continued to honor her young friend through the way in which she lives her life and in the way she shares her love and knowledge of the martial arts. Her greatest contribution to this art form, I believe, is in the way she has mentored and inspired others. This weekend is an example of that inspiration.
Eight years have passed, and reflection of those years, especially the early days, have consumed me. I have found the need to revisit them. To be able to fully appreciate where we are now I needed to fully remember where we had been. And with the embracing of that memory comes a flood of so many others - memories from before the crash and how life "used" to be.
A moment. A snapshot. A space. A place in time. Our lives are filled with them. Some moments are those of glory that you relive over and over. The emotion they create is so powerful it evokes a physical reaction. You feel a warmth shower over you. It’s as if a burning light has been placed deep inside and the heat it generates fills every fiber of your being. And then there are those moments, those snapshots, those spaces and places in time that bring a different emotion. These are the moments that irrevocably change life. These are the moments that leave an indelible mark on your soul. These are the moments you wish never happened. The moments you wish could be erased from time.
The crowd is gathered tightly around Ring 2. The typical calls and cheers are a little louder than usual. The faces seem a little more intense. I wander down to the ring curious about what is happening. At a karate tournament we are fairly used to the tremendous energy and talent our young star performers have. We are used to looking out among the crowd and seeing a spinning body spring into the air, twist, kick and back down. Another stuck landing, another blinding combination… I really want to see what is generating this level of interest.
Tori Lynn Andreozzi Foundation - P.O. Box 3326 - Narragansett, RI 02882 - USA | Phone: 401.480.2277 | Fax: 401.284.2401 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you come to the edge of the light you know
and are about to step off into the darkness,
faith is knowing one of two things will happen...
there will be something solid to stand on, or you will learn to fly