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The Anniversary

Saturday, April 03, 2010

March 26th has always been a difficult day for us. This year the emotions that come with the anniversary were eased being surrounded by like souls and caring professionals.

The Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island held their annual conference at the Crown Plaza in Warwick on that day and Lee Woodruff was the keynote speaker. Having had the pleasure of meeting Lee before, I knew those in attendance would benefit from her words.

Lee Woodruff, the spouse of ABC anchor and traumatic brain injury survivor, Bob Woodruff, knew what it was like to experience the wild rollercoaster ride of having life as you know it change in a moment. She spoke with honesty, courage, humor and hope. Suggesting to all, when the enormity of your individual situation becomes, well enormous-break it down into moments and learn to focus on those that re-charge.

It was a reunion of sorts as Tori was able to be present to meet Lee Woodruff and while in attendance, met a few old friends. Most of these friends had left the rehab center where Tori still attended long ago. These brave and beautiful men and women, young and old sought out Tori and beamed as they spoke of their admiration for my daughter. It seems all the while I felt so fortunate for Tori to be part of a group that reached out and included and accepted her, she was dolling out her own brand of therapy to all. Even in her silence Tori has a way of making everyone feel special. When those big brown eyes look at you and the corners of her mouth crinkle into a smile it sends your heart into a tailspin. Each friend shared stories of their experiences with Tori and the part she played in their rehabilitation.

Yes, March 26th is a difficult day. Every year it has been impossible to avoid going back to that place, that space and time where life took an unimaginable turn. And on each anniversary, I have found it important to reach out and to connect with those who shared that space and time with us. Gravitating one year to the firehouse to give them a picture of Tori and to thank them, because their efforts that day gave us what we still have today. Other years seeking out different police personnel to let them know the gratitude we felt for not only doing their job – but for the manner in which they did that job and their continuing unwavering support. There are some places I have not yet found the strength to visit. When leaving the PICU at Hasbro after weeks of living in the hub of the unit, I vowed we would return one day. In my mind it would be under glorious conditions such as one we experienced when a former patient, not expected to survive, walked into the unit on his own power. While that time has not yet come, I look forward with anticipation to share with them the celebration and gift of Tori. And one day, we will visit the Emergency Room staff at Kent Hospital whose early intervention kept Tori alive allowing Hasbro to continue with heroic life saving interventions.

But for this year, we were right where we needed to be. Among friends, among survivors, among dedicated professionals all with a common bond, we survived another anniversary. And this time, re-charged and ready to take on what life has in store moment by moment with honesty, courage, humor and hope.