Pinky and Sarah: love after brain injury

I was in awe, because I was so devastated by [my brain injury] and I saw this guy. He was so positive and he was making people laugh. [His brain injury] hadn’t totally destroyed him. I thought that was so cool. – Sarah

WRITTEN BY JOHN STEVENS

When Sarah Briggs and Michael “Pinky” Clouthier meet at a Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) event back in 2005, they had both been living with brain injury for several years. Sarah acquired her brain injury at a provincial-level downhill ski competition in 1994. Pinky acquired his from a bike accident in 1991.

“I was in awe, because I was so devastated by this thing (the brain injury) and I saw this guy,” Sarah said. “He was so positive and he was making people laugh. [His brain injury] hadn’t totally destroyed him. I thought that was so cool.”

Meanwhile, Sarah also caught Pinky’s eye. “I thought she was a high-class woman. I (really) didn’t think she would be interested (in me),” he said.

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Despite the fact that both were in relationships with other people when they met, Pinky and Sarah got to know each other as they went to more BIST meetings. Getting to know Pinky over the next three-years helped Sarah get to the point many survivors face, acceptance.

“Well, this is the new me, and I can live with that,” Sarah said about her new attitude.

Three years after they met, Sarah was at a jazz festival in the summer of 2008. She decided to ‘take the initiative’ and call Pinky. He came by with a friend, in a car, and picked her up. They began dating, and the “rest is history”.

Early in 2009, Pinky and Sarah were finishing a presentation about relationships after brain injury at BIST. Pinky asked Sarah to close her eyes. He told the crowd that he had to make ‘good’ on his words as he got down on one knee, pulled a small box from his pocket, opened it, and asked Sarah to marry him. They were married that summer.

Pinky has another reason to smile and another ‘best thing’ coming into his and Sarah’s life soon. They are expecting a baby this July. Pinky, known for his freestyle rapping skills, laughs when asked about his thoughts on becoming a father, “Daddy O…Daddy Pinky. What do you want Pinky Junior?”

John Stevens is a former writer, journalist and television producer. He is a nine-year brain injury survivor and six-year member of BIST. You can read the full-length version of his article at Brain Injury Blog TORONTO.