Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Three Years Gone

Today marks the third anniversary of the accident. The ripples in the water of my life, caused by that event, continue to alter my existence. Who am I? Why am I here? Why was I saved that night, when a split second would have changed the outcome? What is the true path that I am meant to follow?

These are the questions that I ask myself as I look back on the past three years, and forward to the future. To be honest, while I have fond memories of the deeper (pre-accident) past, I don't spend much time reflecting on that part of my life. In many ways that person died on October 22nd of 2005. (Some unsubstantiated reports even suggest that I physically did die (several times) that night.) My life has changed in more ways than even I realize by the events of that October night.

Gone is the young man whose only goal that night was to convince a friend to put on a costume and join him for a Halloween Party. (A party that, as we all know, I never made it to.) Gone is the detail oriented manager who enjoyed the most stressful and hectic moments of leadership. Gone is the man who cared if every guests food was served on time, or if they had enough shampoo in their rooms. Gone is the man who...

That statement could go on and on. With all that stripped away, and so much more, what was left behind was a man who had his relationships, and core values, to cling to. And the fact is that my life had been so ingrained with corporate culture BS that I wasn't even sure what my core values were anymore. I tried to return to the life I had led before, only to discover that I no longer belonged in many aspects of that life. Were it not for my family, friends, and new friends who came along the way (my support system, if you will) I would not have survived.

At the beginning of this year I was still trying desperately to hold on to what had been one of the most important parts of my previous life. The reality, however, is that I now know that I never should have let that part of my life become as important as it was. My career was all consuming. A 24-7 beast that invaded every part of my existence. Indeed, it was on my way home from the job site that the accident occurred. I really should have paid attention to the message in that!

Did I pay attention? No, quite the opposite. From the moment I awoke I asked when I could return to that beast. Somehow still thinking that it was where I belonged. After all, I had landed my dream job just six months before the accident happened and I still wanted it. What I didn't know was that my dream job had become far less than a dream. For some reason I had it in my head that when I returned it would be as I left it, but the reality was that, in my absence, it was changing as much as I was. I tried to hold on to it, but I have to admit that I was miserable, and no amount of effort could ever restore the dream.

So, now I no longer have that career, I'm facing potential unemployment in the coming months, I must find a way to support myself, and I have to figure out the right course to proceed with my life. I AM NOT AFRAID! Let me say this again: I AM NOT AFRAID! This is the path that I am meant to walk now. I have my support system around me and it is ever growing. My head is clear, my spirit is open, and with every new trial I grow stronger. The questions that I ask myself I will always ask, and the answers will frequently change.

Today, on the anniversary of my survival, these are my answers: Who am I? Someone different to everyone I know, or will know, but to me I am simply myself. Why am I here? To experience life, help others to experience life, and hopefully learn something along the way. Why was I saved that night, when a split second would have changed the outcome? Divine intervention, for reasons unknown to me, that hopefully I will instinctively satisfy. What is the true path that I am meant to follow? The path that, while it may be difficult and scary, makes me happiest and feels right to me. This is why I AM NOT AFRAID!

(I will admit, now that I am done typing this, that there are tears in my eyes. Tears for the man who is three years gone, and all the unfulfilled hopes and dreams that he left behind, and tears of joy for the man who survived, and anticipation of the experiences he will have on the path he now walks.) Tonight I am having a small gathering of people, supporters (some new, some old) over to celebrate my survival. After you read this, please lift a glass (wine, beer, soda, water, or milk) and join me in a toast to the man, both past and present, who is three years gone from that momentous night. Also, please join me in a toast to yourself, and the others like you, who continue to support me, as it has not escaped my notice that the ripples in the water, caused by the accident, continue to effect each of you as well. Now, I ask you to join me in one third and final toast, and please, say it loud and strong: I AM NOT AFRAID!

Dear Jeremy,

I have found myself thinking of you more these last couple days. I know your life will continue to be blessed in the years to come. I am so thankful to have you as my cousin!

With tears in my eyes, toasting you with some diet Mountain Dew from Virginia!

Love you!
"I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs
but how high he bounces when he hits bottom."
General George S. Patton

To your continuous "bounce".
We toast you from Crawfordsville.
With joy in our hearts...

Violet, Matt and the boys...

Beautiful. Thank you.

It's hard to know what to say after such a personal, moving post. I guess just a thanks to you for giving us the opportunity to follow your progress, to pray for you during your surgeries and down times, and to cheer for you in your victories.

We will say a prayer of thanksgiving and raise a glass in your honor tonight (my drink will probably be ice-cold milk -- nothing goes better with dark chocolate ;-)

Wishing you a delightful evening. :-)

You are loved!

I also have tears in my eyes now, and will toast to your continued sucess and improvement, and wish you luck in whatever you do.

Love Annie xx
Well said! Having a "glass fight" from here.
Love you!

We read your posting before our dinner of leftovers. Two small glasses of wine made it a delicious meal. After an opening toast to our great family hero, we asked our gracoius Lord to continue watching over you and to lead you along the pathway He has planned for you.

After dinner we called our grandaughter, Katie, and sang "Happy Birthday" to her. Today is her sixteenth! For dessert, we finished off her cake that was left over from the family gathering last Sunday for the celebration.

Love to you,
Harry and Lilla
Bless you, Jeremy! How many people spend most of their lives going through the motions without ever looking seriously at what they are doing? I re-read Thoreau's 'Walden' over the past few weeks. It means so much more today that it ever could have back in high school because we have enough experience to appreciate it now. You have piled so much more experience in these last three years than could have been imagined before the accident. Our culture focuses so much on the superficial that it is almost frightening. You are a deeper and more compassionate person than before.
"Le chaim!"
Love, Florence
Wonderful. You inspire me and make me smile and make me cry. I am so proud of you. Miss you. Hope to see you soon.
Love Aunt Cindy
Thanks Jeremy for teaching me something...You are and always will be....MY BOOKSTORE KID....Love Mrs. B
Have you ever thought of becoming a writer?
Speechless = priceless....

I raise my glass to you not only as a survivor Jeremy but as a human being!!

I, too, like others have tears in my eyes but tears of joy!!

Thank you for the lifts me up!
Love you,
Jennie and I just read your message. You are more wise than you will ever know. Thanks for keeping life in perspective for all of us that read the blog and support you. You have so much to teach and share and we thank you for that. Stay strong and true to yourself. We love you!
Jim and Jennie Goodman
It's all about attitude, baby! and you have a great one, which I believe is the key to living a fulfilling life of experiencing, learning, growing, loving... Here's to your life!! -and all of our lives, the good, bad (which a lot of times of course is what we learn from, and just part of the experience), the past, and especially the future!! You're awesome Jeremy!!!

Thank you for your faithful updates to this blog this past 3 years. We have all been blessed by traveling this hilly, and often treacherous, road with you! There has definitely been plenty of crying, but also plenty of laughing with your descriptions of things like the class at U of I following you out to the car!! That was hilarious!!!

Sorry I'm so late in responding to your post. I read it a while back, but was truely left speechless!! I know this has been a difficult 3 years for you, but as you have already noticed.....look at the tremendous change that has taken place in your life. You are a remarkable man!

Love from the Bruce family-

Heather, Ronnie, Holly, Anna, and Ellie

Amazing as usual! I can't believe three years has gone by. Good luck w the job hunt. I'm sure it will turn out fine!


PS Sorry we didn't see you Halloween!
Your eloquent and moving message on this anniversary seems to belie its title - sure sounds more like "three years gained" and really lived than "three years gone"! All your other words are spot-on brilliant! We proudly toast you from Florida!

Paula and Kenyon
Jeremy, I just read this post - two weeks (almost) after you wrote it. I found it very inspiring and wish some people I know could read it and learn from it! How often we look back and wish things were different, not realizing that they can still be if we turn it over to the right being!

Although it's past the "anniversary" of the new you, I raise my glass of diet coke in a toast to who you have become and wish you continued growth of the new you.

Marilyn Becker
I'm a firm believer that you are here to teach the rest of us survival, gratefulness, growth of faith, creativity, will and most of all - love. You are an inspiration -

my toast is with good ol' water this evening - but VERY heartfelt.
now - where DID I put that box of Puffs.

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