Pumpkin Season and Me Again

Posted by Amber Collie in Life After Paralysis on October 31, 2022 # Lifestyle

Hands down, my absolute favorite time of year is pumpkin season to New Year’s Day. Each season has their perks. Summer to me means a more relaxed schedule, guaranteed hot weather, vacations, beach and pool days. Spring weather is beautiful. Flowers are in full bloom, blue sky, spring cleaning and organizing. Winter has Christmas mixed in, which is my magical holiday, fire in the fireplace in the evenings, and movie watching, plus I like the rain and colder weather. Of course, this depends on where you live; my family and I are in Southern California, so when I talk about “seasons,” there can still be an 80-degree day any time of the year. I like to act like we have seasons.

I start feeling that fall vibe as September approaches and summer’s coming to an end. The 1st sight of a bright orange pumpkin or pumpkin spice latte on a menu brings a smile to my face. As more autumn decorations start filling the store shelves, I feel happy and take multiple trips to my favorite stores to look around, getting lost in the holiday items. One big thing I have learned is to savor these small things in life that bring a sense of joy. The more I focus on these things that make me feel satisfied, the more I feel peace in my hectic life.

It’s been 12 years since my son Zack broke his neck in a beach accident at age 15. The final diagnosis was paralyzed C-4 quadriplegic. As his long-term caregiver since day one, I have learned many things I would never have imagined. Caregiving is a different type of work; it reminds me a little of when my kids were toddler age – you are constantly interrupted. At least at the beginning of a sudden spinal cord injury, you are overwhelmed and trying to figure everything out. In the beginning, I was on call 24/7, turning Zack through the night to avoid pressure sores, draining his urine bag as soon as it filled up, bathing, dressing, feeding him, and driving to doctor appointments, school, and therapies. It is easy to lose yourself when caring for someone you love. My whole world was wrapped up in making sure my boy was ok. Plus, I have 3 other beautiful human beings I was trying to care for. My personal care slipped a notch or two. I was lucky to have a five-minute shower and throw on whatever clothes were clean. My hair was in a constant ponytail, with no need for jewelry. I forgot I had a style until recently.

In the past few years, I decided that it was time to find me again. It was way overdue. I made a list of the things that brought me joy, from a pumpkin spice candle to a trip to India. I realized that I was allowed to still live my life, and my son would want that for me. Zack lives independently with a live-in caregiver on weekdays and is home with me on the weekends. He is navigating his own life, as he should be at age 28. I am here for him as needed, but I also can create a life of my own. I actually did make it to India, and I loved it, but if you can’t pull off a trip to India, it’s ok. Plan an overnight somewhere you love or dress up and go out to dinner, put on your favorite music, and buy yourself flowers. I love to light my pumpkin candle and read a chapter in my mystery thriller book, I even let the dishes sit for one more hour. It’s time for me to live again and just in time for pumpkin season.

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured, I had a child in preschool, elementary, junior high and high school. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.