|"Hiking" with my friend in Utah|
She has limited mobility and total clarity
Yesterday, while in an airport traveling, I met a woman whose life had changed suddenly and permanently. She had been a nurse at a mental hospital and was injured while attending a patient. Now she is partially paralyzed in her spine and while she can walk a few steps, her mobility requires the constant assistance of a wheel chair.
She told me that she was grateful for the few steps and grateful for each breath. She was grateful for a loving and caring husband and grateful for a wonderful daughter and twin granddaughters who have Sickle Cell. She is grateful that because now that she is at home, she can provide the children with all the care they need and now, her daughter can go back to college; which she has longed to do.
She said that of course she wished the accident had never happened and she wished that she didn’t have constant pain. Then she corrected herself and said “Come to think of it, if I didn’t feel that pain, I’d be completely paralyzed.” She told me that she didn’t cause the accident but she had a choice in how she was going to live. “I can sit down and be mad. I can feel bad for myself, or I can get up and live,” she told me.
Her change came suddenly; by accident. She blames no one and is simply living and trying to do more of that each day. She told me that she hadn’t really been living before. Yes, she loved life and all that came with it, but she had not returned the favor to life by living it fully.
“Each breath is as precious as the few steps I can take.” She said. “I take nothing for granted.”
We sat at the gate area talking, (I was really listening and smiling) and when it was time to board the plane, we exchanged a hug and our names.
In that second it occurred to me that we had been that close without knowledge of a name and yet I was so full. I was full of life and hope and gratitude. I was reminded by a stranger that life is for living and living and living.
Today, I’ll be speaking to a group of folks who run The Christus Santa Rosa Health System in San Antonio, Texas. Like the woman I met in the airport, they are also undergoing a change. The downtown hospital campus is converting from a regular acute care facility to a children’s critical care hospital and education facility. Like the woman I met in the airport, their change is sudden and permanent. The folks there are suddenly changed from functioning one way to doing life in a completely different way and like the woman in the airport, they too have to decide whether they will sit down and be angry or get up and be grateful for being able to really give the children what they need.
Life always gives us an opportunity to change and grow. Sometimes the change is physical, sometimes it’s mental. Each and every time though, life gives us the opportunity to live more fully and productively.
Yesterday I heard from a stranger who told me the same thing my mother used to tell me; “Don’t wait for the well to run dry to be grateful for the water; do it now.”
BE you, be well, be grateful
Bertice Berry, PhD.