People are born every day, but you choose to mark the days that are connected with people you care about. One of the people I care about is my friend Hanna. Her birthday is January 18th, and last year, she wanted to go rock climbing in the morning and to dinner in Freiburg in the evening. I messed up her plans a little bit by falling from the top of the rock wall and hijacking the rest of the day.
For better or for worse, we share this day now. I’ll forever be connected to Hanna because her birthday is my traumaversary. I mark this day each year as the day that my life changed forever, the day I lost the ability to walk, the day ripped my from my classroom for a semester, the day that brought me closer to Jesus than I’d ever been.
A year later, I’ve miraculously recovered a lot of movement and sensation though I’m still far from restored. I still use a wheelchair most of the time, and I still need loads of medical equipment and medication that I’d rather not. There’s a fine line between celebrating the healing that has happened and grieving over what function has not yet returned. I don’t know where to fall some days; neither do you. Every day has highs and lows, triumphs and trials, and I want to very clearly acknowledge both. I don’t need anyone to remind me of the odds that were against me ever walking again; I know them well. I also don’t need any reminders of how much I’m left without since my accident; I can’t forget it.
This is part of who I am, and I’m not ashamed of it by any means, but I don’t fully understand it myself. It’s new territory for me still. I’ve only been paralyzed one time every day of the earth’s orbit around the sun. I’ve been un-paralyzed for 24 previous rotations. I need a little more time to make sense of this new way of life. I also know that there’s still miraculous healing to come. Most of you read or heard about my toe wiggle just a couple weeks ago. I am not ready to be comfortable with where I am because it’s not where I’ll remain.
I’ve kinda made a mantra of “comfort is overrated” because that’s become so true for me the past couple years. I needed to get outside my comfort zone when I moved from my Shire-like Hillsboro, Oregon to this Shire-like Kandern community (not the Mordor you were expecting). I needed to get uncomfortable through the personal space invasion of hospital care to learn about dependence on others (much more Mordor-like). I’m still not comfortable, and I’m okay with that. If I get comfortable, I’ll get stagnant as a person, and I never want that.
I constantly want to be growing, deepening who I am. Moving to Germany was a big part of that, and recovering from my accident continues to shape me in powerful ways. My story isn’t over yet. I know the last page - and there’s excitement in what’s to come - but there’s a whole adventure between me and the end that I don’t yet know. I have a lot of autonomy in the way that I join with the Author of my story to get to the end, and a lesson I learned long ago is that I intend to live deliberately. In fact, years ago, I taped a note to my desk for me to remember every day “I intend to live deliberately.” I was terrified of being like Edna from The Awakening and just letting life happen to me, so I made a solemn vow to be an active participate in my own life.
All that being said, I’m still figuring out how to respond well to all this crazy crap in my life. I’m facing each day without any instruction manual on how to live as a teacher paralyzed in her mid twenties. I have nothing to give you other than my gratitude for reading this and continuing to care and pray. I have no reason to expect anything from you, and yet, I still beg of you to join with me in repeating the requests I told my dad before surgery a year ago: Pray that God is glorified. Oh, and it’d be nice if I could walk again, too.