“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
– Joseph Campbell
The Old Murray Dies
Murray Dunlap says, “The old Murray died on 6-7-08 in a car wreck, so I’ve been forced to reinvent myself. I spent close to 3 months in a coma followed by about a year in a wheelchair (I can’t remember how long due to amnesia –it seemed like forever) and many months using a walker. I had 3 fractures in my pelvis, a broken clavicle, 9 sutures in my head, and 5 stitches in my ear. I also had 4th nerve palsy (double vision) which required surgery. Worst of all, I have a severe traumatic brain injury with amnesia. Brain injuries are a complex monster with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities.”
D.R. Dunlap says, “Brain injuries can be classified into mild, moderate, and severe categories. The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), the most commonly used system for classifying TBI severity, grades a person’s level of consciousness on a scale of 3–15 based on verbal, motor, and eye-opening reactions to stimuli. It is generally agreed that a TBI with a GCS of 13 or above is mild, 9–12 is moderate, and 8 or below is severe. In patients with a scale from 5 to 7, about half will die or remain in a vegetative state. My brother was a 6.”
Murray adds, “I was forced to relearn to walk, to drive, to stop speaking with a slur and crooked eyebrows, and the worst thing (to me personally), a smile that drooped on one side of my mouth. I speak clearly now with no slur, my eyebrows line up, and my smile is finally straight. I finished my first book (Bastard Blue) and wrote a second book (Fires). Wrote a book of poetry (Proof), another, more mature, book of poetry (A Beautiful Catastrophe), and also ran/walked a 5K. I may have been 3rd in my age group, but, there were probably only three runners my age. That said, it was more than a little faster than in my wheelchair. Around the next corner, my sister-in-law introduced me to the absolute love of my life: –an Episcopal priest. I am living proof that miracles exist.”
“Your outlook is nothing short of phenomenal.”
Richard S. Whiting – Executive Editor – The Index Journal Co.
Murray Dunlap’s work has appeared in countless magazines and journals. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, as well as to Best New American Voices. The story ‘Race Day’ was a finalist for the American Fiction Short Story award, 2014. Dunlap has an MA in creative writing from U.C. Davis. The extraordinary individuals Pam Houston, Michael Knight, and Fred Ashe taught him the art of writing.