I went to a support group for families of people with traumatic brain injuries. It was a very interesting and enlightening experience. I found that my tale of woe pales in comparison to several of the stories I heard.
Having your daughter run over by a drunk driver is terrible. It hurts beyond belief. I have lately been feeling very bitter and angry about what happened to Annette and the things I have been forced to contend with because of what happened to Annette. But I now realize that what happened to her is not even close to the worse thing that can happen.
Not that knowing there are people in the world who face worse problems makes me feel any better. It puts your pain in perspective. This would not be a competition that any person with any sense would want to win. It just helps you to realize that you are not the only person in the world who has experienced this kind of pain.
I know logically that I am not the only person going through this, of course. But in the long, stressful days at the hospital while you stare at your incapacitated child and wonder whether or not your child is still there in that silent and largely immobile body, it is very easy to get lost in feelings of loneliness.
There are braver people than me in this world. There are people who face worse trauma and pain and far greater ordeals than I am dealing with right now. There are children who were injured far more severely than my daughter. Now I have met several of them.
Without infringing on the privacy of those who shared their stories with me, and without providing too many details, let me explain. I will say that things seem to be much worse when the injury is self-inflicted. Not only does the parent have to worry about the pain and suffering and rehabilitation, they also have to wonder what drove them to do such a thing. It is disturbing and unimaginably sad to hear the parents tell those tales.
Then there were the tales of injuries suffered away from home. This adds yet another level to the complications and confusion. Imagine being trapped away from home without any support while you wait to see what happens to somebody you love. Add to this the feeling of not knowing where anything is and not being able to learn where things are because you spend all your time in a hospital.
I feel better about my situation, though not any less sad. My daughter is still in pain and a long way from being whole. To hear these stories told by the people who live through them is encouraging. It is good to know that people who are suffering great heartache will take the time to share their stories so that others might have an easier time in their own heartaches.