Local woman’s life becomes a work of art

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Back in 2010, Tecie Sossaman’s life changed forever when a drunk driver hit her while running errands on the afternoon of September 10. More than 10 years later, the Bartlett resident uses her talents as an artist to stay connected to the world as she deals with the remnants of the accident.

At the time, Sossaman worked at Baptist Trinity Hospice. On that fateful day, she
left at lunch to pay her water bill. She doesn’t recall the actual moment that she was hit.
Sossaman said, “I don’t remember any of it, but from what I’be been told, I was taken to The Med and put on life support.” At the hospital, it was discovered that she had suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Sossaman would never be the same.

The long road back was excruciating and in some ways will never be over. Sossaman
said, “I had to re-learn how to walk, talk, eat, breathe, think, and understand again. My recovery was like being born again.” She has used her sense of humor and the
support of her family to regain her independence.

Sossaman said once she was home, she noticed a painting of Edgar Allen Poe only half-finished on a canvas. That was the moment she learned she was an artist. She asked her
h u s b a n d , Mike Jones, why he had not finished the art and he answered
her that it was a piece that she was actually working on at the time of the crash. “I paint?” she asked. The answer was a resounding, “Yes!”

She knew what she had to do. Art would aid the transition back into her life.
It took S o s s a m a n s e v e r a l months before she was brave enough
to try painting. There were many things she had to learn to do first. But once she
picked up the paintbrush, she found her calling…again. She said, “It took
me months, almost a year actually before I even tried to paint and it took time. I finally finished my Edgar Allen Poe painting. I will never sell for it is a reminder of the old me and start of life as this me and who I am,” she smiled.

Luckily for Sossaman, painting and family isn’t her only connection to her “old” life.
She wrote in journals before the accident and posted on social media. She said looking back on her former self seems like she is looking at someone else’s journey. She explained, “Prior to the accident, my life is like bits and pieces with a lot of missing parts. I can see pictures or read entries in journals or posts on Facebook, but honestly it’s like reading about someone else most times. It is strange, but my high school time, I remember like yesterday…I know these people. Most have come back into my world and
it makes me feel like I have my life back…like I’ve gone back in a time warp except I have this older body.”

She credits not only her husband, Mike, but also her daughter, Charli Sossaman,
her mother, Doris Sossaman, her brother Dennis Sossaman and his wife, Glinda, who were constant sources of strength for her during her recovery. “There is no way I could have done it without them,” she said.

Painting has also helped. It gives her something to wake up and do each morning. Sossaman said, “ It gives me the extra push in a positive urge to get up
and start the day. I cannot work now, and my brain needs its downtime, but I still needed to fill a void. Painting does that for me now.”

Sossaman said it is important to get the message out that those with TBI’s still have alot of life ahead of them. She said, “I know other survivors and each one of them are different. Some struggle a lot more than me, some are able to work part-time. But,
all have their struggles and I am a constant reminder saying, no matter what, don’t give up. A positive attitude adds and negative subtracts just as it does in math. My sister-in-law Glinda taught me that. It has been a big don’t give up reminder.”

Sossaman spends her days painting now and enjoying her “new” life. It is one that she gets to create for herself each new day, like a fresh canvas, just before the colors turn it into a beautiful creation.