TBI by
10
(15 Stories)

Prompted By Reconnecting

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

The subject of this story is in the back row with the red hoodie. I am front row right in the dark sweater.

I am not a big fan of reunions or reconnecting with people from my past. I have a very bad track record in that regard. Usually it has been disappointing. Once, it was very painful. I generally feel that what is dead is best left to rest in peace.

I've heard that with a true friend, absence means little.

In the fall of 1997, one of my best friends, whom I had know since eighth grade, suffered a traumatic brain injury. At first it seemed that he had escaped the accident with no more than a headache, maybe a mild concussion. But as the months, and then years, passed, his personality changed. His behavior deteriorated. It was eventually discovered that he had suffered significant contra coup injuries in his prefrontal cortex.

He became forgetful, especially of things and people he had known for many years; some memories are forever gone. He had insomnia, or nightmares. He suffered deep depressions. He went through periods of mental absence which became more and more frequent, and which were eventually diagnosed as petit mal seizures. Most frightening of all, and utterly out of character, he developed a violent hair-trigger temper. It got so bad that his wife almost left him out of fear for her own safety.

Embarrassed by his memory loss and afraid of his new personality, he withdrew from most of the people he had known before the accident. My emails and letters were not answered. Phone calls were a minute or two of desultory mumbling, or were begged off with “too busy to talk.” As this went on, my attempts to maintain the friendship dwindled. Patience and reacting well to rejection have never been great strengths of mine.

Months passed Then years. Like a decaying isotope, with the passage of time, our connection weakened.

Around 2015, I had an idea. He is a baker of some renown, and my wife makes damn good cookies herself. So, after consulting with his wife, with whom I did speak with some regularity, I called and invited myself over to exchange Christmas cookies. I was somewhat surprised that he said yes.

He told me later that he was very much afraid of what might happen when I came over. He dreaded us sitting in his kitchen, staring at each other and making meaningless small talk, with nothing left to say. He feared the final end of hope. He nearly cancelled several times. But his wife pointed out to him that the worst case was the same as the present reality, so there was nothing for either of us to lose.

I’ve heard that with a true friend, absence means little. You might not talk for years, but when you do, all the time blows away like chaff in the wind. Some people have no friends like that in their lives. I had two.

I have two again.

 

 

 

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre

A lot of things have happened in my life, but now I am mainly in it for Gina and the mountain biking.


Characterizations: moving

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    A story of redemption, Dave. Very moving. I’m so happy for you on so many levels. As you can see from my story, I totally agree that the years mean nothing with a true friend, you can pick right up where you left off. And now you have your friend back. Wonderful for both of you!

  2. Suzy says:

    This is a great story, Dave. I particularly like the sentence “Like a decaying isotope, with the passage of time, our connection weakened.” Your idea of a cookie exchange was brilliant, and I’m so glad it worked. How wonderful to have your friend back!

  3. A well-told story and a powerful final two paragraphs. I like how you separated the final sentence into its own short paragraph.

  4. Marian says:

    I’m so happy for you, Dave, that your friendship was restored. You both took a risk that paid off. Isn’t it amazing that sometimes, after a reconnection, you can pick up where you left off years ago? Those are the most satisfying times.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    This is a powerful story, Dave. So glad you decided to reach out to your friend. I know the feeling of years falling away with true friends when you finally connect, and also the fear that perhaps something awful has happened during your time of non-communication.

  6. Engaging story, well-told! I was hoping for (but not expecting) a happy ending after your somewhat discouraging first paragraph. So I was pleased for the happy ending, for both you and the reader;-)

  7. Wonderfully poignant story, you’re lucky to have had such a good friend in him, but he won the lottery with you Dave!

  8. I love the story, Dave. Recently I decided to watch one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, for the umpteenth time. There’s something about the connections there that is riveting, but the love and friendship in reconnecting is so much stronger, as you found. Good on you;.

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    Beautiful. I agree with Suzy–the isotope parallel was amazing. This story was well told, and the cookies were perfect too. You don’t need a lot of connections, but it is important to find a way to honor the ones you have. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Cookies; perfect. Sometimes (often?) a simple gesture speaks volumes. I want to remember this. A moving story well told, Dave…thanks!

Leave a Reply