I read his account of my bleeding, brain injury, coma, and rehab, and of Eric’s and my absence of home while my in-laws remained with Nathan. Then, he stated that this event had caused his estrangement from us. The story was written in a matter-of-fact tone. Then came a harsh analysis of his personality. Among several weaknesses, it stated his lack of a work ethic, which had led to his failure to succeed in school. As I read the paragraph, my heart broke. Our conversation was as matter-of-fact as Nathan’s narrative and very short. But my reading prompted me to do quite a lot of thinking. What kind of emotional changes had my injury and its consequences caused in Nathan?
While he was growing up, we had developed a close, affectionate relationship. Unlike Eric, I was a free-lancer, so I could manage my time. I would tell him stories and read him books. I would bake him cookies and prepare snacks for him and his friends. I would take him to school and pick him up, and we’d chat on the way. Actually, I enjoyed being with him – I loved him.
Then, my hemangioma bled, and everything crumbled. Eric had (and still has) to become mom and dad for our son because it took quite a long time for the blood to reabsorb and my confusion and fear to subside, and the effects of the injury had lasted a long time. And I was so focused on what was happening to me and on my healing, that I didn’t have mental time to think of what had happened to him. I thought it was just “teenage trouble.”
This essay was being a real wake-up call. I had to step back and think slowly, and just then I would be ready to begin a conversation. It had taken an essay to teach me to rethink things.