“Falling down is part of life. Getting back up is living.” –Anonymous
A broken Murray (smiling the best he can) with his niece, Allison, in 2008 Polk Van Zandt, Mary Balfour Dunlap, Seth Olson, and a new Murray Dunlap
Eight years of unremitting work, left to right.
Friends and family (and a new Murray) thank God for his second chance at life.
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 five stitches in my ear. I also had 4th nerve palsy (double vision) which required surgery. Worst of all, I have a 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 put myself back together and jog/walk most days (as a former distance runner, this is now a slow, strange gait –but I’m out there!), and I lost the 50 pounds I gained in my wheelchair/walker/Athens-ice-cream days. I speak clearly with very little slur, my eyebrows line up, and my smile is finally straight. I finished my second book (‘Fires’), wrote a book of poetry (‘Proof’) -available at The Country Bookshop Boomer Press, and ran/walked a 5K. I was 3rd in my age group. But, there may well have only been 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 love of my life –an Episcopal priest.”
The new Murray says, “From nearly dead to newly wed, I’m making the most of it. Life is hard… but, NEVER GIVE UP!”
Kara L. Swanson says, “The curious thing about the auto accident that ended my life was that I lived through it.” Dunlap remarks, “Just like that, my original plan for life vanished. But, as one life ended for me, a better and more fulfilling life began. Thank you Ed.”
“There was this funny thing of anything could happen now that we realized everything had.”
-Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From
Non-fiction: What it Feels Like… (Stories of surviving the unimaginable) B-Metro
Non-fiction: The Girl with the Red Scarf (…the Dunlap wedding) Germ magazine
Non-fiction: We Weren’t Born here, but it Feels like Home The Pilot
Non-fiction: Author finds a second life, writes book after crash Mufreesboro Post
Non-fiction: “Times I Nearly Died” Fried Chicken and Coffee
Non-fiction poetry: “In an Instant” Vox Poetica
https://www.youtube.com Kathleen Hinman – WKRG
Vox Poetica Annmarie Lockhart
http://www.smokelong.com Kelly Spitzer
http://www.smokelong.com (#2) Kelly Spitzer
http://www.al.com Emily Hill
http://press53.tumblr.com Press 53
http://blog.al.com Leigh T. Moore
http://literarylab.blogspot.com TheLiterary Lab
“My brother still has issues with memory, balance, and anxiety, but based on where he came from, this is nothing short of miraculous. I believe, with God’s help, he will run again.”
“Five years after a near-death, and life altering, experience, he can walk and talk and exercise and write and laugh. It’s as if his eyes are opened for the first time to who he is and what his life means to him and others. And it is a new life. Remarkably, he is a better person after having gone through his extremely difficult ordeal. An ordeal, recovery, and awakening, that was in my mind so clearly God driven.”
D.R. Dunlap –the best, and most supportive, brother ever.
I’m not this strong. I’m just not.
If God had not loaned me a suit of armor, I would have been crushed.
I am alive because of borrowed steel.
.“Every life can change in an instant. You will never see it coming. It is what you do with the pieces of your wreckage and how you reinvent yourself that will define who you are.”
To reach Murray about his motivational talks, please contact him by email:
Contact: murraydunlap (at) gmail (dot) com
“And I wanna have friends that I can trust, that love me for the man I’ve become, not the man I was.”
— THE AVETT BROTHERS