At 7:16 pm, January16, 2009, my life irrevocably changed. I was, at 7:15 pm, a college professor in Washington DC for the inauguration of Barack Obama. I carried my sabbatical research in a backpack, along with the itinerary for my upcoming trip to the Bahamas where I would relax, write and absorb the beauty of the land and the people.
And then a stranger came up behind me, and with no warning or comments, assaulted me with a hammer.
That was almost ten years ago. I struggle everyday with the effects of what happened. I feel a deep kinship to others who are surviving with their brain and nervous system rearranged by sudden, chance and irrevocable events.
Now I realize that the most important capacities are inside me. I am now part of a community of people who, though often invisible, have the strength of the rose that grows through concrete and the faith of the petals that reach toward the sky.
I never intended to write a book about my experience. When I began to feel physically stronger, I started to make some notes about how I was feeling. Once I started writing, I felt more like the story was writing itself, with me as a scribe. As I wrote, I realized that I had to dig more deeply into my own family history, and my raw and vulnerable places. My story, I recognized, was one that spoke to many whose lives are made invisible due to brain injury; who are the innocent victims of the violence of strangers and the violence of systems, and to the families and friends whose lives are also deeply impacted.
Headstrong has been named #1 in the Parade Magazine roundup of 11 memoirs you need to be reading now
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