As the holiday season is in full swing, I continue to grieve the loss of my only son to the mind robbing disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. I also am taking the time to find the miracles in tragedy as well.
Paul was a giving person who loved to make others happy. He enjoyed giving back, whether it was giving a friend a ride, by buying lunch for a homeless person, or cooking a meal that was sure to delight your taste buds.
Long before Paul’s death in 2014, I often would share with friends either in person, or by a social media post, that my gift in life was finding miracles in tragedy. Some examples included living with my own brain injury since I was 9, yet finding my quirks were actually brilliant gifts, then when my daughter was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer we learned to see the bright side of life and the enormous gift each day brings. More than a decade after Janaye’s healing from cancer when Pacific, Gas & Electric blew up my friend’s home killing 8 people, including her son’s girlfriend Jessica Morales, and leaving her son in a coma fighting for his life. We found the miracle of the love of Joe and Jessica’s mothers. Who’s incredible strength to help Joe recover, as well as fight the utility industry for unsafe practices, inspired us all.
As you can imagine losing my only son has put that statement to the ultimate test. Since his passing, I have found myself at times saying, “where is the miracle in this tragedy?”
As the year winds down and I look back, not only on the year, but since the horrific day no parents ever wants to live through. I find myself seeing the bright side and miracles once again. Maybe it’s that time of year, maybe I had too much coffee today, or maybe Paul’s life no matter how short still has the power to make the world a better place?
I think it’s the latter. Paul was a bright light in life, and now an even brighter one in death. Knowing we cannot go back or change the past, I choose to absorb his light in the darkness and vow to see the miracles in his tragic death. That his brain, as the study of the youngest, last year of play football player to ever be found with brain damage and CTE, is lighting the way for more research and policy changes to be made to save many lives in the future.
Because of Paul, his life circumstances, and the more than a decade of legal work by myself and his sister Tiffani, youth tackle football with its repetitive brain trauma as an inherent risk, will be a thing of the past in the very near future. This change will prevent the unnecessary exposure of children to a spectrum of brain damage and disease, leaving the future bright for the next generation of young athletes.
What bigger gift to a sport loving society could our family have given?
As you spend the holidays with your family, please say a little prayer for ours, that while we mourn the empty chair at our Christmas and New Year’s Day dinner table, we continue to see the bright side of life.
That our tragedy, may truly be a gift and miracle after all.