My dear Spark Friends,
Just a quick note because I have to get ready for my trip to the US. I'm leaving home the day after tomorrow for South Carolina and then Florida, and I haven't packed or done any preparation whatsoever! (Panic City here.)
On to my nephew Perrin. When I first heard, less than a month ago, that he had been in a car accident, that his spine had been fractured in two places, and that he couldn't move, I assumed the worst, as I always do when something bad happens. I thought Perrin would be forever immobilized, a quadriplegic. His life was over, I thought, his wife would leave him, he would never again hold his nine-month-old daughter in his arms, and as she grew up, she would come to dread visiting him wherever he ended up being institutionalized, motionless forever on a hospital bed.
Thank God my dark outlook was WAY wrong! Over the weekend, due to the very diligent efforts of his stepmother, Perrin was transferred to an excellent rehab facility specializing only in spinal cord and brain injury. Perrin is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and the VA at one point tried to send him to a facility in New Mexico, many hours away from home, where his family would have been unable to visit. But his stepmother Becca researched, emailed, asked, badgered, prayed, and persisted, the result being that Perrin will be only a short drive from his wife and daughter, his in-laws, and my brother's son Austin, who lives in Denver. Counting all the friends Perrin has made since he moved to Colorado a few years back, there is a multitude of people who can visit him regularly. He won't be stranded alone in New Mexico, which I'm sure is a good place in every other way, but it's too far from Perrin's wife and baby.
Perrin's attitude throughout has been deeply moving. I have not heard of him making a single complaint. I'm sure that in the privacy of his mind or in talking with counselors, he has expressed sadness and fear of the future and maybe regret at aspects of the accident (I don't know yet exactly what happened, whether all seat belts were fastened or the driver was going too fast, etc.), but in all interactions with medical staff and whoever has visited him, Perrin has displayed nothing but good will, cheerfulness, and an ever-present sense of humor. These qualities are surely what has brought him through to the point where he faces a life as good as anyone else's, perhaps even better than a lot of us who still have the use of our legs but cannot overcome the feeling of being handicapped. The fact is that we are all handicapped in different ways. Some of us have visible handicaps while others suffer from maladies invisible to the outside world. Ironically, Perrin's new physical handicap has shone a spotlight on the fact that spiritually he is a champion.
Scenes I have heard about that have moved me:
Perrin weened himself from painkilling drugs as quickly as possible. In his younger days (he is 32) he had a drunken fall at a wild party and was seriously injured, and it no doubt scared him enough to be wary of addictive substances.
As soon as he knew the prognosis--that he would be in a wheelchair most likely forever--there appeared in his room a doctor who sat down with him and helped quell his fears about his future livelihood. The wonderful thing about this doctor was that he was a paraplegic himself, counseling Perrin from his own high-tech wheelchair, living proof that the world belongs to paraplegics, too, and that Perrin can do whatever he sets his mind to.
One day when Becca was deeply engaged in conversation at the nurses' station, exhausted at being far from home (Georgia) and dealing with so many new problems and worries and forms, she barely noticed that a wheelchair had rolled up beside her. Wheelchairs are ubiquitous in hospitals, so she did not even look down until the nurses started smiling. When Becca finally looked down beside her, there sat Perrin, going for his first ride in his new wheelchair, on his face an expression of delight at being able to make his stepmother shed tears of joy.
And I've seen photos that show Perrin lying in his hospital bed, with his laughing baby daughter seated on his chest and his wife smiling proudly by his side. These photos show that in spite of the huge change in their circumstances, this little family has the same huge love for each other, and the joy of living as they all had before their accident on December 22. Maybe more so, for they have seen darkness, too, in the past month.
I have learned so much from this. Be grateful. Everything could always be much worse than it is. Never give up. Trust God. Prayer works. You won't always get everything you ask for, but you will usually be taken care of, and if you don't get what you had originally wanted, you adjust your desires and keep on trying to be the best person you can be--strong, generous, loving, and hopeful! The famous Bible verse comes to mind, the one from Corinthians, when Paul wrote about faith, hope, and love. For me, love (or charity), which Paul considered the most important, has always come fairly easily, but Perrin's example has taught me that faith and hope are very important, too.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I wish I had time to write to everybody individually, but if I don't pack my suitcase and find my passport, I will truly start to sweat and have palpitations. I still have one more day to get ready, but I'm a procrastinator, so I must be strict with myself and sign off.
Everybody please take care and stay safe while I fly through the sky looking down at all our beautiful states of America.