Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Makes us all think...

My name is Bill Hogenauer. I am Peggy and Brooke’s nephew (Peggy’s sister’s son.) But, this is not about who I am.

I have wanted to say so many things to Brooke and Peggy since the accident. I have wanted to tell them how sorry I am and how much I wish I could be there to support them. I want to look Brooke in the eyes and tell him how much I love him (something I have never done.) But, this is not about what I want.

I have been in denial about the accident, wishing it had never happened. I am an active person who bikes, hikes, skis and runs just like Brooke always did. Brooke’s accident has affected me in some ways more than if it had happened to me. I have experienced thoughts about life, love and mortality I never before contemplated. But, this is not about how I feel.

This is about Brooke.

Brooke is paralyzed from the neck down. He has spent the last few weeks just inches from death. His heart has actually stopped beating. He now receives his food through a tube and has other bodily functions regulated by machines or other able bodies. It is doubtful he will ever walk again. It is even more doubtful he will ever again be able to do all of the active things he loved to do.

Yet, despite all of this, Brooke is a man who has accepted his fate and is “starting a new life.” He looks forward to his future regardless of the hardship he may face. He can actually see opportunity for reflection and discovery in the face of tragedy. He has thus far lived his life like each day could be his last, and now he does this by force instead of by choice.

I can say with confidence that before Brooke’s accident I would not have been as accepting of such a fate. Would this accident have happened to me, I would have asked all of the typical questions like, “Why me?” I would feel that I didn’t deserve such a fate. I would resent the hand I was dealt and likely be bitter and angry. I would blame, doubt, and criticize those who disagreed. I would likely not have wanted to live.

Now I am unsure. Brooke’s accident has taken from him the things I take for granted every second of every day, yet he moves on without complaint or regret. While most would consider his “life” over, he considers it a chance to live anew. I hope I would feel the same. Brooke is the kind of person I would be fortunate to become.

So, all those things I wanted to say can be replaced with two simple statements; “Thank you, Brooke. I love you.”

But this is not about me.

6 comments:

pr said...

I have been following Brooke's and Peggy's journey and I have been overwhelmed by the gift and blessing of friendships that both enjoy. I am a loner, so sharing in this community of love and caring and support has made me rethink the importance and purpose of "community". Much like a novel carries someone into unimagined lives and redirects present choices and possiblities, I have been moved and changed by your unexpected new beginnings. I hope you will know that I am your Avenue neighbor, that I care about both of you and that I hope you'll consider me part of your incredible community. much love, patty reagan

Mary R. said...

pr points to something that I’ve been noticing about this blog. The blog is much more than a place to get updates on Brooke’s status. It is that, of course, but it is also a community of its own. While we “followers” of the blog are all anxiously awaiting Peggy’s or Sara’s or the next family member’s post about Brooke or about love or the nature of friendship, together we are being transformed in the process. Collectively, I suspect, we “have been moved and changed by Brooke’s and Peggy’s unexpected new beginnings.” Brooke and Peggy, to me your lives have been models of the communitarian ideal and, as this blog seems to be demonstrating, they will continue to be that for a long time.

Stacey Katz said...

I'd just like to thank Bill for his beautiful post. Brooke continues to humble and inspire us all.

Sara & Greg Pearson said...

Dear Peggy,

My wife Carolyn and I have read all the blogs up to now and feel tremendous gratitude for all you and your family have shared, and for the lessons we must learn from it. Our thoughts and spirit are very much with you and Brooke and your family, with most earnest hopes for the future.

Because I have, like Brooke, been a lifelong reader of Wordsworth, finding great sustenance and meaning in him, especially his longer poems, please share with Brooke the following section from The Excursion, Book VI, just as a sampling, for whatever it's worth:


"... 'Tis affirmed
By poets skilled in nature's secret ways
That Love will not submit to be controlled
By mastery: -- and the good Man lacked not friends
Who strove to instil this truth into his mind,
A mind in all heart-mysteries unversed.
'Go to the hills,' said one, 'remit a while
This baneful diligence: -- at early morn
Court the fresh air, explore the heaths and woods;
And, leaving it to others to foretell,
By calculations sage, the ebb and flow
Of tides, and when the moon will be eclipsed,
Do you, for your own benefit, construct
A calendar of flowers, plucked as they blow
Where health abides, and cheerfulness, and peace.'
The attempt was made; --'tis needless to report
How hopelessly; but innocence is strong,
And an entire simplicity of mind,
A thing most sacred in the eye of Heaven;
That opens, for such sufferers, relief
Within the soul, fountains of grace divine;
And doth commend their weakness and disease
To Nature's care, assisted in her office
By all the elements that round her wait
To generate, to preserve, and to restore;
And by her beautiful array of forms
Shedding sweet influence from above; or pure
Delight exhaling from the ground they tread."

With all warmest greetings and best wishes,
Howard Tuttle

timo said...

Dear Brooke,
It is snowing in Massachusetts, memories of white Christmases past. I think of you often. Much love from me and Deborah for the holidays,
Timo

George Constable said...

Brooke, Christmas is memory time, and I've been remembering spindly gilt chairs, obscure cousins playing the violin, and a lot of happy Christmases with you. I recently looked up the word "merry" in the OED. It derives from an Old Teutonic word that meant "to shorten time", which also signified "to cheer." So I wish you a very merry Christmas in the Old Teutonic sense, a shortening of the time it takes for you to get home, get better, and get back to sharing your special self with all of us.