It is a crisp morning. We wanted a family picture to preserve a memory of where we are right now. We went to a park and brought a photographer to capture the moment. We had many great opportunities to photograph nature and our family. The one picture that got all of our attention was the one with me in the wheelchair and the family around me. Here I am looking at that picture and lots of emotions go through my mind.
I see a family that’s broken. The father is basically an invalid. The girls, who are supposed to be dependent, have to become independent. The person in the middle is bound to a wheelchair. The women on the outside are bound to care for him. Like I said, broken!
I see a daughter chasing her dad. And I see a husband and wife just walking together. Not broken.
Then I look down at my legs and I realize that those things are not for me anymore. I feel empty and I feel angry and I feel depressed.
No answer. I wait some more – silence.
Then I taste salt. Salty liquid in my mouth. I’ve started crying. I am trying to stop, but can’t.
I’m looking upwards, and a cloud moves out of the way. I am blinded by the sun. I squint my eyes and I feel this warmth on my face.
Suddenly I get this feeling that you are trying to communicate with me. You are saying that it may be cloudy but the sun is right on the other side. All I have to do is keep looking up.
It dawned on me, I am not broken. There’s a quote that I heard many years ago:
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
The choice is mine. The world will accept either one I choose. And the way I choose is the way I will live.
All of a sudden I see my surroundings differently. Although I cannot chase my daughters I can turn and give them a hug.
Even though I can’t go on walks with my wife she can push me in the wheelchair and we can still be together.
Even though I cannot throw a ball to my daughter, I can enjoy life with her.
I have more than most. It is an illusion to imagine that these families that I see have a perfect life. That does not exist. Fantasizing of such things is pointless and actually destructive. The real problem is that comparison is an enemy of happiness. We all have different situations and I’ve learned that if I were to take all of my problems and throw them in the pile with everyone else’s, I would end up taking my own back! In other words, I’m actually thankful for everything I do have. Suddenly the air is cleaner. My eyes are clear. And that happy smile on my face in the photograph is real.
And so that’s what I’m going to do.
Enjoy one day at a time.
Talk to you tonight, God!