To My Friend with Brain Injury

Ten years ago I met a woman in a room of wisdom and “tough love”
Posters with deficits strategies hung on the walls
We took in constructive criticism, had disinhibition, felt neurofatigue
(the woman was you – a friend with brain injury, my peer.

BEFORE. (all of us had a “before”)

Thinking we were invincible. But no body on earth is invincible.
Imagining a future we didn’t know but wanted

AFTER. (that room was the start of a hard-won “after”)

Trying to reimagine a future we didn’t know but knew we didn’t want, yet you were slowly building it anyway –
with the Superwoman socks covering beautiful legs you hide.
Superwoman soul. That you can’t hide. It is who you are.
It is your future.

My “before” unaware the me I knew so well was so fragile
In that room of wisdom taught
gentle, step by step, hung on the walls

Then an “after” I couldn’t didn’t want to imagine
In that room of tough love learned
searching for the “self” still there but so hard to find
to pull out from under my confusion. Somehow.

I learned from a friend with brain injury – you – how the strongest
(most willful – determined – fighting tooth and nail) every day
throwing yourself forward time and time and time again and again

We all have our “before”
But few of us created an “after” so extraordinary as you have
Teaching us all what it means to never let go
your mind intensively constantly painfully exquisitely tuning itself
Teaching me how I could be
if (or maybe when) I remember what you’ve taught me.

I love what you have given me.
Truth, beauty, and a friend with brain injury who is who she is as she is.

I celebrate you and the future you are building.

(I hate the word “inspire”)