Marie has counted days in her new role since its inception. Today is Day 3437 in a job she did not apply for, wishes had never been assigned, but one at which she excels beyond any human’s expectations.
Since Saturday, October 2, 2010, Marie has served as the caretaker extraordinaire for her daughter, Corey –18 at the time–who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after surviving a horrific car accident where she was a passenger. Unlike the majority of my clientele, Marie didn’t seek my coaching to grow a business. Rather, her goal is to become a sought-after spokesperson, author and keynote speaker in the world of TBI. She is passionate about Corey’s care which has resulted in 1) her daughter’s remarkable progress, and 2) Marie’s becoming an encyclopedic resource on the subject. Watching a video of Corey, one might think life is hunky-dory, but the behind-the-scenes story is challenging, grueling and relentless. Nevertheless, Marie shows up day after day on behalf of her child to combat the savage destruction of brain injury’s effects. Her mantra is “Never give up, and never give in.”
Before my first conversation with Marie, I was blissfully unaware of the staggering numbers TBI affects. According to the website brainline.org, an estimated 2.8 million people sustain a TBI annually. Multiply that over the years, as those stricken do not always make a full recovery. Unless TBI arrives on your doorstep, you’d probably prefer to remain clueless on the subject. But for those seeking assistance, Marie Beattie is paving the way for care-givers, and the clinicians who serve TBI patients, towards a better understanding of the journey. She is mightily assisted by her older daughter, Caitlin, who has been instrumental in my work with Marie as she assumed care of Corey during our coaching calls, Marie’s writing and homework time, and beyond. Corey’s on-going recovery is a family job, and Caitlin has stepped up–a testament to her commitment to her mother, sister and her familial role.
Marie and I first met at the height of our careers when she was working successfully in the window coverings industry and I was a keynote speaker and workshop leader at a conference she attended. Years later, a mutual friend mentioned my name and recent publication (Too Much of Not Enough: A Memoir) which sparked Marie’s interest in a coaching relationship. She, too, would like to publish in her new area of expertise.
We’ve just concluded her six month program, and I asked Marie’s permission if I could write about her since confidentiality underscores all of my coaching relationships. “Go for it!” she exclaimed. I want to help her get her story out there as she awaits publication of a piece she’s been refining since I assigned it. Around the time of Corey’s 9th anniversary Marie described a feeling she’s had throughout this time. In fact, she coined a phrase (a modified version of the Ambiguous Loss term created by Dr. Pauline Boss in the 1970’s) for her emotional experience: “Ambiguous Grief.” How does one describe the losses that don’t show up on a Facebook post, at therapy appointments, or when friends ask–or more often–stop asking? The loss is “massive” she told me, and includes Corey’s childhood, the family’s freedom, time passing, dreams, conversations, the future, even though Corey, the 28-year old is alive and present and working as hard as Marie at just being.
Was the coaching helpful, I wanted to know.
Marie summed up our coaching relationship: “The more we talk, the more things happen for me. The interaction and brainstorming harness my direction. The greatest benefit is the ability to have these conversations to keep me on task.” Most recently Marie, Caitlin and Corey have been invited to 1) submit videotape of their home life interactions for physical therapists to study, 2) to join forces with a Brain Injury Association member to run a CEU course on the subject of TBI, and 3) to be an expert on the subject of advocacy for insurance for neurologists studying the impact on families.
I am confident that Marie’s published words will bring her the attention and platform she desires to build. It’s already happening on a local and regional level. Her powerful voice and advocacy need to be recognized nationwide. I pray that she receives that platform not only for the sake of all the TBI patients out there, but for anyone who is a caregiver who needs support, hope and a role model.
“Never Give Up and Never Give In.”