Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Recently I had a similar encounter at the American Village rehab facility where my Grandpa is staying. A nurse stopped Dad an I in the hall and asked if I would mind if she asked about what had happened. She had seen me a couple of times and was curious. After hearing the story she replied that it was amazing and that obviously God had a "reason" for what had happened to me. She wanted to know my name because she said I would be famous one day and she wanted to remember meeting me.
As we walked away Dad asked me how it made me feel when people say that there is a "reason" for the loss of my legs. When I was lying in my hospital bed, having only been awake for a short time, people used to say that there was a "reason" and that they looked forward to seeing what I was going to do. Statements like this made me feel a lot of pressure, and some anger at the thought that there was some divine purpose behind my dismemberment.
The more I focused on this, I came to the understanding that there was no purpose behind the accident or the fire. Later, as I learned of the miraculous events behind my rescue, I began to understand that the purpose was in my survival. I do believe that there was divine intervention that night, but I don't believe that divine intervention caused the accident.
Dad told me that he thought that the reason was the effect that I have on the people who see me walking, and the people who I talk to about the accident. I don't think about this often because I am more focused on living my life. However, I beleive that the reason is in my recovery and the impact it has on the people who are a part of it as well as those who continue to witness it.
The people around me are more aware of the needs of people with disabilities. (I include all of you when I say "the people around me".) I am more aware of the potential for kindness and generosity in people, even perfect strangers. People who have struggles of their own seem to be strengthened when they see me overcoming this very obvious disability. The people who have helped me throughout my recovery seem to feel a greater sense of satisfaction when they see me accomplish new things or have an easier time with tasks that used to be a challenge. (I stood unassisted for 3 minutes in therapy last week, and only stopped because my legs got tired.)
This weekend marks the second anniversary of the accident. It's going to be a busy weekend, even though I'm not working. Tomorrow is a very full day, but I hope to get some "me time" at some point. I'll be speaking about how the generosity of the community has affected my recovery during both services at church on Sunday. I'm taking Monday off, as that is the actual date of the accident. I started this post on Wednesday but it has taken me a long time to complete it, by the time I post this, it will already be the morning of the Saturday that began this long period of challenges, frustrations, and sucesses.
Do you remember me? Diantha (I've gone back to my maiden name "Daniels" as my last name now becuase I'm no longer married to Mark), your former next door neighbors. Elizabeth and Rachel (Kesling) are now 23 and 20! Tell Sarah (and your dad) Elizabeth is now a teacher, too. She'll finish her K-12 special ed. license this summer. Remember when Sarah used to babysit for them?
I have been reading your Blog from almost the beginning, since I first heard about your accident from my sister, Ellen Daniels-Howell, who goes to your church. Your name has been on the prayer list at our church, Trinity Episcopal, for the last two years. I periodically update our clergy and fellow parishioners on how you're doing. I figure the more denominations you have praying for you the better!
I read your Blog on "a Reason" with interest. Like you, I don't believe that there's a God out there who "causes" some people to have accidents (or whatever happens to them) just so they can learn something. I believe that sometimes things just happen, and that every one of us, in some way, has something happen that isn't fair, that causes us great pain or loss, that we don't deserve, or whatever. While God doesn't cause those things, God IS there, always, to support us directly, as well as through other people -- and sometimes through people we'd never expect to be just what we needed at a particular time.
Even with the reality of God's love and that of others, of course, we still have a choice: we can either get locked up in a "Why me?" circle, or we can slowly and gradually come to terms with our life as it now is and find out what we can make of it in a positive way. Thus how we respond to the challenges that come our way becomes not a "reason," but our "opportunity" to grow in new and different ways, to try things we'd not have tried otherwise, to find ways to give back to those who have given to us. In other words, we CAN learn something, but that's a choice we make rather than the "reason" for what has happened to us. That's the spirit that comes through so clearly in your Blog, Jeremy -- yes, no doubt about it, you still grieve (and always will) what you lost on Oct. 22, 2005, but you have not only survived the accident, you have lived fully and even blossomed in, I sense, many ways. As you spend quiet time tomorrow looking back and looking forward, know that you have so many of us out there cheering you on -- every step of the way.
With our love,
Diantha, Elizabeth and Rachel
Thinking of you today and praying extra hard for your continued success in all avenues of your life. You are an amazing young man.
I'll never forget where I was when the information came in about Jeremy. The look on my face, the pain that shot through my heart, the prayer that was said, the quiet cry that I let only God see, I'll never forget.
But now that I read your entire blog, I'm remind of why we go on....so, Jeremy I'm glad you have chosen to EMBRACE life and it's many challenges. You are a very strong individual and I know that whatever happens now, I'm going to never give up but BELIEVE that tomorrow is another day.
EMBRACE IT MY FRIEND WITH ALL OF YOUR BODY AND SOUL...