Turning 25 is a pretty big deal for some people, some people make a list of all the things that they would like to have done by that time, I never did but I did figure on being married with a house and yard for all my animals. I was just cruising through life living day to day and happy about it. I had responsibilities like most people but I was content and happy with my life all the same.
I spent most of my 24th year in the hospital so I wanted to have a really big party when I got back home; I remember talking about it when I was in the last hospital. I was telling my family and the few friends that still would come to see me about all of the people I wanted to invite and there was one particular person that I just had to make sure was there. I can’t explain why but she was very special to me. She was a volunteer; she would do absolutely anything that we asked her to from organizing the front desk and taking out the trashes to the occasional odd job like helping someone at the front window but the thing she was best at were call backs. At the beginning when an employee would adopt an animal out I liked for that person to do the call back but we were doing a lot of adoptions and it got to the point that they would take up too much time; we had a system set up and several call backs needed to be done every day and Pat was one of our best people for that job. She was a wonderful person to work with; we had gotten so close that sometimes I would call her grandma playfully, so of course she had to be there. As my party was drawing near my old boss came over and I was getting more and more excited about my party so I wanted to make sure that she invited Pat to my big event. I went over to where her and my mom were talking and said, “make sure you invite Pat”, she looked down at me and said, “I’m sorry Jen, Pat passed away while you were in the hospital”. I was crushed and hurt, crushed because I lost someone who meant a lot to me and hurt for not being told sooner they just let me be excited and talk for all those months when they should have just told me. When I started to cry upon finding that out all I remember my friend saying to my mom is, “at least she still can do that”. Meaning, I still had the awareness and ability to be sad in that situation because some people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury have lost that ability and have to be retaught or they don’t get it back at all.
The day of the party was finally here, we sent out invitations to everyone we could think of, I am a fan of the television show Survivor and despite the odds I survived so that became the theme.
Russell and his family came, the first time Russell saw me I was hanging out of my car covered in blood but he still held me, the next time Russell saw me I was awake and talking but, you know, I don’t know if I ever thanked him. How would you thank someone for saving your life somehow “thank you” just doesn’t seem like enough.
Jimmy, the guy I met in the hospital also came. My grandma and uncle flew down from Northern California and my family that I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years came down from Colorado. Lots of family friends, church friends, fellow employees all of whom had been there to support me during my long hospital stay. I even saw one of my favorite teachers from high school and some of my best friends.
The party started in the early afternoon and around 150 people came it was good to feel a tiny bit of normalcy even if it was just a facade.