BellaOnline Literary Review
The King and I by Karen Sorbello

Non Fiction


Murray Dunlap

It started as the perfect marriage. Two young, attractive, kind-hearted peopleÖ And then the wreck. A man failed to look up to see a red-light and so he hit this kid straight-on in the passenger side door. Thank god there were no passengers. So he was crushed in a wreck, being pushed into a truck full of friends of all things. They turned out fine, but this kid, me, was sent into a three month coma. And that wreck, on 6-7-08, marked the beginning of the end of this perfect marriage. The actual end was on September 10th, 9-10. So if numbers are your thing, those are pretty clear bookmarks. And so, our divorce is final. The perfect marriage, up in flames.

The worst part is that we have yet to have a fight. Not once.

That said, and we are in agreement on this one thing: I am a different man post-wreck. After three months of Coma and over a year in a wheelchair, Iím not sure anyone would be the same. Iím going to walk again, and Iíve already made the switch to using a walker. That said, I sure could use a good long jog. But no. No jogging for me. Not now. And because I have a Traumatic-Brain-Injury, I have no balance. If I even try to walk without something to hold onto, I fall flat on my face.

And so, as a pre-wreck marathon runner perfectionist, my ex-wife mourns the loss of her husband. Literally. And who knows who I am nowÖ

I also never sleep anymore. And Iíve tried sleep-aid medicine, but get this: Traumatic-Brain-Injuries are tricky things. So being extremely sleep deprived, I had the generic of Ambien called in for me. But due to the brain, it made me sleep-walk. So, not only was I using a walker, my brain decided for me to get on up at 3 a.m. I put shoes on and everything. And in my state of sleep, I never thought to use the walker. Nope. So after one step, I fell to my right knee and sprained my ankle. I also rocked forward and hit my forehead hard enough to get a bruised cut.

So this could have easily ended in a mortuary. But I press on. And I smile. At this point, I have to. Iím not dead yet. And whenever anyone hears my story, they are quick to commend me for pressing on. But all I can think is Ė What choice do I have?

Why keep going? Because I can. And it is clear that I have no other optionsÖ Having been very nearly killed in a ridiculous car wreck last year, I do whatever I am capable of. Spending three months in a coma, followed by a full year and a half in a wheelchair will do that to you. As you read this, Iím out of the wheelchair, but a Traumatic-Brain-Injury caused my brain to stop talking to my legs, so Iīm still using a walker. Sadly. Over a year later.

So I sat in that chair for the full recovery term just itching to get out and do something. Anything. I had gone jogging for 15 miles just an hour before the wreck. Obviously when I was in the wheelchair, I was NOT happy. In the walker, Iīm just angry. So I go to therapy five days a week and hope like hell it will work. It seems to be Ė the switch from the wheelchair to the walker made this obvious - but SO slowly.

And then, Liam Neesonís wife was all over the news for having died of exactly what I have. A Traumatic-Brain-Injury. But I donít give up. I couldnít imagine just giving in and being fine with paralyzation. I now have infinitely more respect for the lives of the handicapped! It is an amazing thing at 35 years of age to be faced with an entire life in front of you, but in a much, MUCH more limited way.

So now Iím planning to run marathons again. Iím not nearly there yet, but Iím determined, and anyone who knows me knows that thatís all it takes to be sure Iíll do something. Determined, yes. Crazy, no. And whatever drove the pre-wreck man to run 5 marathons is clearly driving me to run again. Who knows why? Iím simply determined and that is all I know.

Now one more set of weightless squats. The movement is like that of a weight lifter, but no weights. The idea being Iíll improve my balance and leg strength. I hope so. Having no job to go to, and being so lonely, I do these over and over again.

So divorce? Yes. Suicide? No. I have no idea what motivates me. Why donít I give up entirely? I guess Iím just determined to defeat the odds stacked against me.

And Iím angry. The fact that a man Iíve never met failed to pay attention for one single second of his entire life and now Iím divorced, trying to relearn to walk at 35, and not sure what the hell Iím doing Ė really - it seems to me that anger is the consistent motivator. I guess anger helps keep me going. I flat out refuse to let one idiot being an idiot for one second ruin my entire life. Iím crawling with anger just saying that.


And my ex-wife and I will go to dinner tonight as friends. Can you imagine? The strange thing is that we still care about each other very much. Iím just different, she says. I donít really see how, but oh-well. She is entitled to her opinion. With a fractured brain, who am I to say otherwise?

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