Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carolyn Roy-Bornstein talks about Crash, grief, gratitude, family, and more

Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude is Carolyn Roy-Bornstein's haunting memoir of how her life changed after her 17-year-old son Neil was hit by a teenaged drunk driver while walking his girlfriend home. Faced with such a shattering event, she became an expert in traumatic brain injury, even as she grapples with her son's memory loss and changed personality. I'm honored to have her here writing about her experience. Thank you so much, Carolyn.

L’dor vador
     Ten years ago my son Neil, then 17, sustained a traumatic brain injury at the hands of a drunk hit-and-run driver in a crash that killed his girlfriend. Five years ago, I started writing a book about it. Last month, Crash: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude was published by Globe Pequot Press.
     My parents would have been very proud of their youngest daughter. Unfortunately they didn’t live to see me become a published author. Then again, they also didn’t live to experience Neil’s accident, which might well have killed them on the spot. My in-laws also did not live to see the book come to fruition. My father-in-law died before his son and I were even married (though he did tell me on his death-bed that he knew I would be a good wife to his son, which I hope I have been.)  My mother-in-law knew I had finished writing the book, but passed away before I had found a home for it.
     So as I give book readings and interviews, I think about my parents and parents-in-law a lot. I wish they were all alive to see me read, watch me on TV or hear me on the radio. I know my father would be bragging to all his golf buddies about his author-daughter. There is no love more unconditional than a dad’s for his little girl. And my mother-in-law Sylvia would still be non-stop kvelling.)
     There is a Hebrew phrase L’dor Vador which means “from generation to generation.” This phrase comes during the part of the Jewish Sabbath service where we all are instructed to teach our children about our religion. But I have used it in my daily life as a mantra, a kind of short-hand for what I believe in: the power of family.
     So now as I give readings and interviews, I may not be able to bring that previous generation of family with me. But I try to do the next best thing. On my pub date, I exchanged my mother’s wedding ring for my own. Curling my fingers around the gold band carved with flowers, I felt her presence with me. For my book launch party and my first TV interview, I wore the beautiful suits my very chic mother-in-law bought me many years ago. They are not out of style because she was such a visionary fasionista. I try to wrap myself in the love I know they would have showered on me is they were here. And I think: L’dor Vador.

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