Myers family seeks to help others
When tragedy struck the Myers family of Salem four years ago, there wasn’t time to process their grief.
Norma Myers said all of their attention had to be focused on younger son, 25-year-old Steven, who was in the car with his older brother, Aaron, when they crashed on a Craig County road in August 2012. Aaron, a 2004 Salem High School graduate, died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, and Steven was rushed to the hospital with traumatic brain injuries.
Now, Myers said the family is finally taking time to grieve, while trying to move forward in the best way they know how. For all three family members, that means living their lives in a way that honors Aaron.
“We have good days and bad days. Our community is so instrumental in our road to recovery,” Myers said. “Brain injury is just a life-long recovery, and we have the other side of the loss with Aaron, so it’s a great deal to balance, but we have each other and we’re determined to do this one day at a time and try not to look at the big picture, because it tends to be overwhelming.”
Steven is thriving as a student at Virginia Western Community College, seeking a career path in a human services field. Myers said Steven originally began at the school taking information system technology classes, but soon realized that something was missing.
“The more we talked it was evident that Steven wanted to be in a career where he knew he could make a difference in others’ lives,” Myers said. “On one of our walk and talks, it just clicked, and so far he is feeling peace about his decision.”
Steven still checks in monthly with his therapists at LewisGale, but is now in good health. He is busy working with rehabilitative services to research part-time jobs. He has also spent time volunteering for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Rescue Mission, and currently volunteers at Richfield. He is also highly involved in brain injury support groups.
Steven’s father, Carlan, works in human resources. Norma said he has been the family’s rock, and that he hopes to begin speaking at events in support of families struggling with similar situations.
“We’d like to start small with speaking, maybe at churches, and just provide people with encouragement to let them know that no matter what you’re going through, you don’t have to do it alone.”
Now that Steven is becoming more and more independent, Norma said it is time for her to focus on her next move, as well. She said returning to a desk job wouldn’t be fulfilling, and she also wants to pursue a career that will make a difference in the lives of others.
“After a life-changing event like this, I just really want to do something where I can help people and make a difference, and that’s where Steven is as well,” she said. “Carlan kind of has that factor going already. As a family, we try to look outside of where we are and reach out when we see people hurting. Everybody’s got something going on.”
Occasionally, the Myers family is called in by Dr. Bryan Collier, a trauma physician, to share their story with struggling families and provide a human support system.
“He’s put us in touch with one family who has a daughter who is going through some of the same things that Steven went through, so I’ve been trying to mentor her and give her some resources that we didn’t have,” she said. “When we went through that, we were just given a manual on brain injury, and we were pretty much left on our own to figure things out.”
Norma, a life-time writer, said she hopes to write an inspirational book based on her family’s experiences. She also runs a Caring Bridge page, another way of sharing Steven’s story. For more information, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/stevenmyers1.
“In many ways, Steven’s experience has made him a stronger person,” Myers said. “He doesn’t take life for granted, and he is sensitive to other peoples struggles. He offers his contagious smiles freely and strives every day to live in the one precious moment we are given.”