Sunday, August 1, 2010

Breathless Moments

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

One of my all-time favorite sayings.

At least it used to be.

What brings me joy?

My answers would have been quite different had I been asked one month ago. Like most of you, I likely would have listed some of those breathless moments. The birth of my child. Coming out of anesthesia post-surgery to see my husband smiling down at me. An amazing moment on a rocky cliff in gorgeous Hawaii.

But these days, in the aftermath of my sister-in-law's tragic accident, I know that joy can (and should!) come from the small things we usually take for granted.

What brings me joy?


My sister-in-law had a bad fall in the mountains on July 8th. She fell quite dramatically on her left shoulder, breaking her clavicle and shattering her vertebrae at the T4. She tells us, at the moment she landed in the river, she knew something was very, very wrong. She knew she should be in pain. But she could feel nothing. She wanted to move out of that cold 40-degree water, but she could not even wiggle her foot.

My sister-in-law is paralyzed. She cannot feel her legs. She cannot walk. She cannot put on her shoes. She cannot get through a day without pain medication.

It brings us great joy that she got accepted to one of the best spinal cord injury rehab facilities in the country. That she is learning, day by day, to understand and manage her "new normal". It brings us joy that she has use of her arms. That she suffered no brain injury. The big things are there, and no doubt we celebrate those. But now we celebrate the tiny things as well.

My sister-in-law has to call a nurse when she wants to get out of bed. She needs help reaching her water if the cup has been placed a mere inch out of her reach. She doesn't get dressed alone. She doesn't even get to empty her bladder alone. Those things will come in time. But for now, she is dependent on so many extra hands. And someone else's legs.

Getting out of my own bed brings me joy.

Walking to the toilet brings me joy.

Using the toilet brings me joy.

Standing in front of the mirror brings me joy.

Reaching to the top of the cupboard brings me joy.

Driving my car brings me joy.

Wearing flip-flops brings me joy.

Walking down the stairs brings me joy.

Jumping with my daughter brings me joy.

Breathless moments are not the only ones that are special. Life can, in fact, be measured by the mundane.

And oh, how beautiful that can be.
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