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OPINION: Brain injury brings clarity

Having brain injury has forced columnist Diane Nakamura to slow down, and take life one day at a time
Northern Brain Injury Association

Living with a brain injury has been a curse and a blessing at the same time. 
Lately, I feel it's been more of a gift.
You are reading the 46th article I've written for this column. What I didn't know when I first began writing this column was that these articles would become my personal journal. 
Once upon a time, my life was extremely busy and I liked it this way. There were no spare moments because every minute was accounted for. And there were many times I bought tickets to ride the crazy train.
Then one day, the road I was running my marathon on closed... permanently. 
Gee, you can't close a road without building a new one or have something to replace what was there previously. Okay where is the maintenance crew?  Let's rebuild this road and hurry up because I have places to go.
Hello? I need to get going here. Hello!
Many months after my injury I was still waiting for my road to be rebuilt. There were Band-Aid solutions sent my way. Like the insurance company who assumed I didn't need a road and dumped me out in the middle of nowhere. When I told them I was lost and needed help I was scolded like I was a child and left out in the woods to fend for myself. 
Eventually, this treatment was deemed ineffective. The road construction had begun but the route had apparently changed. There were multiple delays and ongoing issues about what direction the road would take. Meanwhile I was impatiently waiting and praying to God every day to get my life back the way it was before.
I waited. And waited.
Since COVID began, I've had this recurring dream. I'm on a bus with my mom.  We are the only passengers on the bus. I can't see who is driving the bus. I look out the window and the scenery is unfamiliar and quite blurry. Are the windows dirty? Is it foggy out? 
My mom says " Isn't it nice we have the bus all to ourselves?"
I am confused, angry and I start crying. My mom has been passed on for almost 40 years.
"I'm not talking to you because you're dead!" I'm shouting. "All I want to know is where we're going. And who is driving this bus anyway?"
My mom merely smiles and disappears as she's walking down the aisle. 
Then I wake up.
I've had this dream enough times to know someone is sending me a message. In time, I wasn't annoyed in the dream and I've tried hard to change the way I talk to my mom. Instead I'd like to tell her how nice it is to see her again. But the dream plays the same over and over. 
I'm no longer waiting for the road to be built. It doesn't matter that I can't see who is driving the bus in my dream. None of these things matter. 
What matters is that I am present and participating fully in my constantly evolving existence. If we had the ability to see into the future, would this make our lives better or worse? Now I realize that it's okay not to know what is coming around the corner. Because do I really need to know?
When people ask me what plans I have for the future, I immediately think of that bus. I know I'm not alone on this trip. And I don't care that I haven't got a clue where the destination is. I'll let you know when I get there.