Why I’m Grateful For Accidents, Pain, And Loss

“If you have nothing to be grateful for, check your pulse.” ~Unknown

I couldn’t feel my legs.

There wasn’t any pain, just this odd “sameness” of non-sensation.

My body was frozen as I turned my eyes downward to scan down my nineteen-year-old body. Below my knees, my legs were splayed out in a very peculiar way. I was halfway underneath my car, pinned down to the dirt and gravel of the road by the back right tire.

The tire had caught my long, curly hair and the puffy left sleeve of my new white peasant blouse, miraculously missing my face.

Blessing Number 1:

In the distance, I could hear my two best friends shouting for help; as passengers, they were fast asleep when I fell asleep driving, hitting a tree and rolling the car. Thankfully, they escaped unscathed.

Blessing Number 2:

My vehicle was lifted off my broken body, and I was carefully hoisted into the ambulance. Without warning, pain seared through me like nothing I’d ever experienced. I remember worrying about my parents and how upset they would be that I’d crashed the car.

The blur of the ER swirled around me, and I was quickly positioned on an ice-cold steel table.

I could hear the ripping sound of my clothes as they were cut off my body. I was aware enough to be embarrassed when they got to my underwear. With no time for pain medication, the doctors yanked my left leg straight. Both of my femurs were badly broken and had to immediately be put in traction.

When it came time for leg number two, the attending doctor told me it was okay to scream, so I did—loudly.

I can still see my mother standing in the doorway of the ER. I will never forget the look of fear and horror on her beautiful face. Not wanting her to suffer, I looked up and said, “Mommy, I’m okay.”

It’s been nearly four decades since my accident, and my eyes still well up as I share this part of my story. Not because of what transpired over the next extremely difficult year, but for the pain it caused my parents. It seems that while I woke up physically under the car, I had also woken up in spirit.

Blessing Number 3:

Before the accident that was to define my life, I was a carefree, hippie-type, artsy teen. Nothing bothered me; I went with the flow, was basically happy and, like all teenagers, believed I was invincible. Traction, a body cast, a blood clot in my lungs, and a wheelchair would teach me that nothing was further from the truth.

The details of the next twelve months don’t really matter, although…

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