1000 to 1 and 10 Times Too

imageWe watched the movie “1000 to 1” tonight (thanks Missy for the recommendation). This movie was particularly interesting because it’s about someone who suffers a stroke from an AVM. I’m glad I saw it. Each of the movies we have seen about brain injuries has had us reliving our past (and present). It’s always both painful and enlightening to watch (and even more painful for Ricardo than for me).

I found myself relating to several of the characters. The mom in the movie stays up nights devouring material trying to help her son–I was there at one point with Ricardo. She’s there relentlessly cheering him on through his toughest days and believing in him always. I’ve been that mother to him too.

I also related to both his girlfriends in the movie. I’ve been the girl who cheered him on from the sidelines, the loving, sweet person who sees how hard he has worked and wants nothing more than to see him succeed. I’ve been that wife.

And I’ve been the girl who says, “I can’t do this anymore,” and runs away–at least at some level.

So much of the movie touched me–the way I related to each of the female characters, the protagonist’s determination that was so much like Ricardo’s, the whole recovery process this poor young man goes through that was so very much like Ricardo’s–it just touched me because you realize what a hard thing your spouse has done, what a hard thing you have done too. It touched me because it reminds you that your husband, your family, and you made it through something that they make inspirational movies about. And it touched me because 1000 to 1 could be a great title for Ricardo’s movie–not because of his basketball statistics, but because that’s about what his odds of dying were, and that’s probably being optimistic.

1000 to 1. His odds probably were even worse than that and yet here he is. When I say that out loud I feel all sorts of things. I feel guilt that I get to say that when 999 family members don’t. I feel grateful, so profoundly grateful because I know how close I came to completely losing him. I feel proud of how far Ricardo has come and  proud of us as a couple for surviving that. But there’s something else…I guess it’s this reminder that we have a story that’s worth telling, maybe even a story that will inspire someone else. Part of me doesn’t want to come across as pretentious and another part of me knows that I like to overshare about my life and maybe people are tired of hearing about me…but then, maybe someone would really be inspired by Ricardo’s story. Maybe it would give hope to someone struggling with their own dark paths, which unfortunately come in so many shapes and sizes all throughout life. Or maybe it would help someone who is a stroke or brain injury survivor, or help a caretaker like me, to have that ah-hah moment that helps you find that direction or peace you needed in your life at that moment. So, maybe I’ll keep telling it for now.

This year has been about acceptance.

There is a point in the story when Cory goes to his therapist. He tells his therapist about how he had always been the person who they tell it will take 6-9 months to recover from an injury and he’s starting and staring 3 months later. He talks about how he has always believed that with enough determination and hard work, anything was possible–that he has posters plastered all over his walls that say just that. And that he rushed back to school as fast as he could, and enrolled in a full course load of hard classes, and was working out hours each day to get back to being the star basketball player because that’s who he was supposed to be. But he was tired, so tired. He couldn’t understand his classes, and he couldn’t study…

Then two years later he goes back to his same therapist. He had been working that whole time to get back to the old Cory who he was supposed to be. And then he hits a wall. So he walks into this therapy session completely beaten down after being told he STILL would not be able to play on the basketball team at his college. The therapist looks at how defeated Cory looks and says, “So this is all about basketball?” And Cory screams at his therapist that it’s not about basketball at all. That it’s about everything he’s supposed to be that he’s not. He screams the old Cory is gone, he’s dead, and he’s never coming back. There’s a long pause. Then the therapist says, “That’s right. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a new Cory. And that new Cory is 10 times the person old Cory was.”

And then Cory starts to come to terms with that new reality and what it means for him. He considers quitting basketball, but ends up deciding to keep trying because he realizes how many people he has inspired through trying.

At the end of the movie, Cory Weissman says something to the effect of, “everyone says now, ‘Cory, you’re back to who you were. It’s amazing.’ But I’m not who I was. I’ll never be. And I’m glad.”

And that has been Ricardo’s 2016. The year of accepting what you aren’t. And the year of accepting what you now are.

And that’s what I’m still missing–acceptance. There are still moments, and parts of our lives, where I say, “But it used to be like this, and work like this, and I liked it like that, and maybe if we tried X, and then Y, and maybe resorted to Z, then we could have that aspect of old you back. What do you say?” And Ricardo looks at me and says, “I’m not that person anymore. I’m sorry.” And I get frustrated.

And maybe he just has wisdom that I don’t have yet. Maybe he gets what I still need a movie to show me–that it’s okay, new Ricardo is 10 times what old Ricardo was.

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