The wedding was only few months after the accident. I know I was there, but have no recollection of the event other than the image of the plants and bricks and sunlight inside of Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. I believe that’s where the wedding was held, but I’m not sure. Sometimes memories from those days get mixed together and I can’t be sure if what I remember is accurate. I have no idea where the reception was held. I kind of remember the bride and groom, he a close friend of mine, but not clearly.
Recently I was chatting with my good friend Melissa, who plays a fairly major role in The Seven Steps to Healing your Brain, and she reminded me that I was her date at the wedding. So I guess she drove, likely in her funky little, red Kharmann Ghia. I loved that car. But, again, the rest is a blur. I don’t remember her picking me up. I don’t remember the meal. I don’t remember the first dance. I don’t remember what I wore or arriving or going home.
Then Melissa said, “That was the day you wouldn’t dance with me.”
I sighed when she reminded me. Because I did remember that. I’d danced with Melissa many times in the past, at many weddings and pubs and parties. She was one of my dearest friends and there had been many chances to dance. But the stark memory of why I didn’t dance with her that day was clear.
I was so self conscious about how my friends saw me. I wanted to be the old me, but I wasn’t. That was clear. I couldn’t speak well, stammering and stuttering, mixing up words. I was always tired. I couldn’t think straight. My face still drooped and I walked with a pronounced limp.
I didn’t want to accept that I was different. I didn’t want others to know I was less than what I’d been. I was so self conscious.
But I was wrong. I should have danced, just like John Woloski danced with his therapists after a stroke. I didn’t. I sat at at table and watched Melissa dance with other friends.
The story has a happy ending, though. Years later I was with Melissa at another wedding. Hers. She and her new husband were beautiful, with never ending grins. I remember everything about that day. Yet one memory stands out. That is when I had the chance to dance with her, in her wedding dress, with that smile and luminescence. It’s a memory I don’t mix with others. It is clear. Time heals. And so does dance.
So dance. Dance like John Woloski. Life is too short not to dance.
In the spring of 1990 Allan Boss was in a motor vehicle accident. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The attending neurosurgeon informed his family that he would never walk again or talk again. He recovered and finished three university degrees including a Ph.D., has written/edited four published books and his CBC Ideas program “Updrafts” about recovering from brain injury won nominations for multiple international awards including the Peabody and the Prix Italia. He is currently writing a non-fiction book about his recovery.