Thanksgiving has taken an even greater meaning to my family since the accident. The crash happened two days after Thanksgiving. Since then we have used this day to celebrate that we are still together. It is one of the happiest days of the year for me. December 1st always seems cold and dark to me. Today though I feel alive. I walked the Turkey Trot in pouring down rain and I did it faster than last year. Our house smells like roasting turkey. The kids are watching the Thanksgiving parades on TV. Soon friends and family will be at our home drinking wine and having fun. Truth be told, I am also really looking forward to my post-meal nap. A tradition that dates back years but has taken significant importance now that walking a 5K race feels like a half marathon use too.
This year I am most thankful for how far I have come in the last three years. Three years ago I felt like I had the world in the palm of my hand. The economy was awesome, real estate was “easy”. Dagmar, our super, awesome aupair was still living with us. My family life was running like a well oiled machine. I was looking forward to my first Christmas in 13 years not in retail. So much changed so quickly. 17 days later I was woken from my coma to find that my world was turned upside down. While I laid in my nursing home bed unable to move the outside world around me began to fall apart. First the stock market. Then the real estate market. I stared at a tack on the wall trying to deal with my pain as everything I knew kept collapsing around me. It was then that I first started to realize that the only thing I truly needed was my family.
Three years later I no longer desire to own the world. I am just happy to be of it. I have lived through a roller coaster of issues and emotions and I finally feel like I am getting off the ride. I continue to have health issues and life can really stress me out, but no matter what life throws at us, my family and I have been through worse and survived.
I plan to let a lot of people know about my blog today. Up until this point I have struggled to share our story in the written word. This is an issue since I also have a couple hundred page book that I wrote that I need to find a publisher for as well as a national magazine that just wrote a feature story about my recovery that comes out in February.
I thank God that I still have my wonderful family and that I am well enough to enjoy them. I try not to look to far into the future anymore but when I look at my past three years I really have come a very long way simply by living one day at a time.
Hebrews 12: 11-13
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level the paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
First time standing
I first read these verses, last December. I was about one month into rebuilding my body and was very close to quitting. These words pushed me through. It was at this point that the mantra that got me through my time at the nursing home, “embrace the pain”, took an even deeper, more spiritual meaning.
These verses popped up again in August as the second reading at Mass. I hadn’t given them much thought in the past 6 months. So much had changed since I first read those words 8 months earlier. Thinking about where I was back then and how far I had come gave me an immediate sense of peace. This peace is truly a gift. When challenges and difficulty arise in my life reading these verses help me to re-focus.
I read Hebrews 12 this evening again. I feel a lot better…
I have been thinking about blogging about my families accident and my recovery for a few months. Almost two years ago I started writing a book about the accident. In the beginning it was mostly for me, a type of therapy. When family and friends found out I was writing they would ask if they could read it when it was finished. This turned into more and more people showing an interest. I am not a very good writer. (After you read a few of my blog posts this will become very evident.) Eventually, I was put in touch with a great writer. Her name is Anne Greenawalt. (She has a great blog that I will link to mine when I learn how do it.) Over the past year and a half she has helped my put my thoughts to paper. The book has been a work in progress. A year ago the story would have ended very differently then it does now. I am glad that I haven’t rushed the process, but I do want to begin the steps to get it published soon… I think.
I have two main issues holding be back. First, I don’t think it is good enough. This has nothing to do with Anne. She does a great job helping me craft sentences and structure the book. The issue is that I have a hard time expressing in words what I have experienced, what I have learned and how I feel. All of these emotions and thoughts are so intertwined and jumbled up that trying to create one clear, concise thought is often impossible. Especially for me.
The second reason I am not pushing to publish is that when it does get published, my story will forever be set in stone. I guess it’s really set in paper, but either way its done. Even if the only copies that ever sell are to my wife Tonia and my parents it will still have been told. I do some speaking about the accident. I hope to do a lot more. I enjoy talking to groups. A few months ago, someone hired a videographer to record one of my “talks”. It was very thoughtful. He assumed all the expenses and had many copies made for me. When I watched the video for the first time I immediately realized all the things I did wrong. People I forgot to mention, time lines that were out-of-order. This was not my first speech. I had done talks like this more than a dozen times. No one else knew about the errors and omissions, but I did. It reminded me how important it was to get it right. My family had so much help and support, I don’t want to miss anyone. I don’t want to forget to talk about that one aspect of my recovery that helps another person better deal with a challenge in their life.
Speaking is easier. Some talks go better than others but on the whole, I always feel pretty good about what I said. Every time I speak I try to give more of myself, to do a better job then I did the last time. When the book is printed I won’t have a chance to try harder, to give more. At least not as far as the written story.
Blogging about my recovery and my motivation is my first step toward putting something in writing for the world to see. Or at least those of you who I tell that this blog even exists…