One of the early Hill is Home stories was about something we were so grieved to share. On August 18, 2012, Hill resident TC Maslin was violently attacked near Eastern Market and was left for dead. When he didn’t make it home that night, his wife Abby knew something was terribly wrong. She learned what had happened the next day and her family’s life changed forever. Her book, “Love You Hard,” about the experience, launches Tuesday night, March 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. at East City Books. You can see Abby and TC Monday morning on NBC’s Today Show, as they talk not only about brain injuries and their journey, but also the process of not letting difficult things break you but transform you instead.
As the reality of living with TC’s brain injury became apparent, so did the challenges such a diagnosis places on a marriage. As TC learned to walk and speak again, Abby faced the a future that was much different than her life had promised as an elementary school teacher, mother to a toddler and wife of a rising star in his profession. In the book, Abby recounts not only TC’s journey but also her own and what it means to love someone who had been changed to his very core.
Abby started writing about the experience not long after the event as a way to work her way through the worst days of her life and keep friends and family informed. She also used her blog as a platform to thank the community, her school family at Brent Elementary, as well as the Capitol Hill Foundation, both of which provided general support to help cover the family’s expenses.
To write “Love You Hard,” Abby used Facebook, blog posts, essays in Brainline –a multimedia project by WETA about brain injury and PTSD– and emails to create a framework. Built memory by memory, the book explores the changes in TC but also in Abby’s own heart, and the process of ‘waking up to her own life.’ Along the way she became an advocate for brain injury survivors and their families and caretakers, writing for Brainline and appearing at events.
The next few months are sure to be a whirlwind. This weekend, Abby will deliver a keynote speech for the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. She describes the book launch at East City as a ‘love-fest’ and can’t imagine a more intimate place to host it as one of the themes of “Love You Hard” is the power of community.
The book, for someone who had only written “1500 or so words a time” before, is the product of stealing pockets of time from 4-7 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. –truly a feat with two small children and dozens of children in her literacy classes at Brent. Teaching those same students the empowering experience of finding their voice served as motivation through the early mornings and late nights. That same empowerment took Abby places she didn’t imagine, processing through the everyday practical challenges and internal changes. She hopes reading the book will help readers pause and try to see the people they love as they really are, not as a reflection of themselves. “It’s really tough work to strip away all of the external factors that serve as a veil and hide the gifts in our lives.”