A Reason to Smile: Even with Brain Injury and Hard Changes

It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.    ~ Yogi Berra


Hello. It’s me.

Thank you for reading this blog. I haven’t posted here in a long, long time, and I have catching up to do. One good way to cover a lot of ground with simplicity is a list.

1. Gratitude

I am grateful to all of you who read my emails and blog posts. More to come! I really appreciate your participation and support.

2. Apologies

I am so sorry for not being in touch with you recently. It’s been frustrating to be away from writing emails and blog posts more frequently than I’ve been able to. I intend to do better and I’m planning to share new information and developments, plus plenty of good news and positive stuff, too.

3. Commitment

I aim to make amends: I’ll provide a bit of worthwhile reading regularly and, hopefully, add a few useful thoughts and ideas to the mix. I want to reconnect and nurture our conversation. We have lots to share and learn from each other. It matters to me.

4. Good News

At the end of July, I was honored by the Brain Injury Law Center as their “Teach Believe Inspire” award recipient. I was selected for this award because of my book, A Normal Life, about my older sister Molly’s brain injury from carbon monoxide poisoning and its impact on her and our family, and for my presentations and other efforts to raise awareness about brain injury and CO poisoning. The Brain Injury Law Center posted a short article and Q&A on their website. You can also use this link to take a look.

Version 2

Me and Molly together with Mom at Christmas time.


5. Circumstances

I’ve had big changes and all kinds of new challenges demand my energy and attention over the past few months. I try to focus on just doing the next right thing each day. It’s been hard, though, to find time to call my own. Those of you who are caregivers will know this refrain.

6. New Beginnings

I will get on with it. And we’ll catch up along the way.
This bullet list is a summary of the past few months. I’ll tell these stories and share the lessons I’m learning in future blog posts. It’s been an amazing time.

  • August 2014
    I moved from New York to Colorado, with my two cats in the back of my Honda Civic. We move into Molly’s basement, and I take over day-t0-day caregiving for Molly. Mom finally gets some much needed and well-deserved relief.
  • September 2014
    I move in to a small apartment with bright sunny windows, which my cats and I really needed after our basement stint. The apartment is just a short walk or run to Molly’s house and I continue to be with Molly every day.
    I begin regular attendance at a support group for family members of people with brain injuries. It’s a great resource and a lifeline.
  • October 2014
    After a four-day trip back to New York for some book signing events, I begin researching and visiting residences for people with brain injuries around Colorado.
    The time was right to take the initial steps to move Molly from her house and in to a new home with better and more care than I or my family members could (or should) provide.
Two of my sisters, Sara and Molly, with me at Thanksgiving.

Two of my sisters, Sara and Molly, with me at Thanksgiving.

  • November 2014
    My cat, Utah, dies near the end of the month. My other cat, Pablo, and I do our best to comfort each other in our grief and pull through the loss of our longtime family member.
    My family visits and spreads lots of support and love to me and Pablo on Thanksgiving weekend.


  • December 2014
    My search for an appropriate home for Molly continues. I put Molly’s name on the waiting lists at all the possible places, and I’m told the wait could be long. Months. Years. I remain motivated by Molly’s declining abilities to function safely or happily in her house and by her increasing frustration and anger at me and everyone. I speak honestly and carefully with Molly about my search for her new home. We even visit one place together, which she handles surprisingly well. But she remains grouchy and angry much of the time. I try to understand her fear and frustration and push ahead.

Coming Up Next…

2015 arrives and big changes are in store for Molly and our family. Stay tuned for the story of Molly’s move to a home for people with brain injuries and how we not only survived it, but how Molly is thriving.

And forward we go! Please leave a comment, ask a question, or share your ideas. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for your interest. It means the world.

P.S. If you know of someone–a family member, friend, colleague, client–who enjoys inspiring stories, please tell them about my websitemy blog, or my book. Also, it’s easy and wonderful (and super helpful!) to connect and share on social media. Thanks so much.



  1. Lyrysa, you are an amazing sister and a selfless woman. I am in awe of you. I look forward to hearing more about your transitioning your sister, how she’s doing, and how YOU’RE doing.

    • J. Walsh,
      You are so kind and generous. More to come soon on transitions and Molly and me and the whole family! Thank you for being in touch. You are amazing.
      My gratitude and love to you,

    • Thank you, Paige. It means so much coming from you — you, who are an inspiration to me and so many others. Please give my best wishes and love to Don and your whole family.
      Take care, Lyrysa

  2. If that organization hadn’t done it, I would be saying “You deserve an award.” And more re-wards will come for your devotion and good works.

    • Dearest Jody, How kind and understanding you are. I still have your chapter on my desktop. I WILL get to it as soon as can. Promise. You are patient and I appreciate your understanding. I’m looking forward to more of YOUR great writing. Thanks for the good thoughts about “rewards,” which I know come in many different ways, and times. Including keeping my friends near my heart. Thanks, Jody.

  3. Thanks so much, Dave. I’ll keep you up-to-date with more blog posts soon,soon,soon! Hope you’re doing well. Take care and best wishes.

  4. Hi, Lyrysa:
    Was wondering how this transition went for your sister into the group living situation? I am curious because of my own situation with my spouse; I am still blessed to care for him full-time, but there may be a day that I cannot, and I would like to understand more of the realities of transitioning someone from a family home to a residential setting. Thank you. I heard you speak at the BIAC conference in Sept 2014 in Denver. Take care.

    • Hi Ellen,
      My apologies for being slow in replying to you. I’ve had some challenging weeks recently with my caregiving duties. I want to tell you, though, that the transition for Molly to a group home of five individuals, each with a different type of brain injury,has gone very well. It remains a small miracle to me and I’m endlessly grateful for the success. Molly is happier, healthier, safer, more socialized, walks better, she’s more empathic, grateful, kind, and cheerful than she has been for years, especially since she was so angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed living in her home before the shift to the group home. It’s not perfect and Molly still requires a lot of supervision and creative solutions, but she is immensely better in so many ways. You did hear me speak at the BiAC conference in October 2014. I am still speaking to groups and trying to raise awareness. I will be posting new blog material soon. I’ve been sidetracked mightily by my caregiving duties, but I will be back on my writing and blogging soon. Please contact me via my contact page and email, if you like, if you would like more details and ideas. I’m still learning so much but I’m gaining knowledge and experience every day. Thank you so much, Ellen.

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