Grace and Peace,
I hope this post finds you all in good spirits. Below is a piece that I’ve been working on since October that has been fighting me for direction. The title has gone through the gamut of “Deferred Dreams”, “Being Disabled”, “Choices” and now to finally end with “New Year, New Choices”. The ease with which I sailed through its completion today, indicates to me that maybe the struggle wasn’t about the title, or even the content, but about the timing:
October 12, 2005, 2:35 p.m.
I’ve just returned from a very nice wake. That’s right. I said “very nice wake” as in dead body, weeping and wailing. In this instance, it was less traumatic, at least for me, because there was no body. His ashes were in a lovely wooden box with his pictures on it as well as items placed on the table which were relevant and important in his life.
As Gina, my co-worker, bravely read her husband’s eulogy, I womanfully tried to hold together the sobs that wanted to break loose from my chest. I told myself that it was her husband, if she could hold it together, then so could I. I was pretty successful at this task, until she got to the part where she stated,
“In our twenty-eight years together, Mark and I had many dreams and fulfilled many of them. Though Mark had a physical disability, it did not incapacitate or limit him in any way. He knew no boundaries and felt everything was within his reach or attainable. He dared to dream with me and we did our best to fulfill our dreams.At this point, all suck-it-up bets were off and I proceeded to do what I do best--emote! I vaguely remember being handed a tissue by some benevolent hand as my thoughts raced and I equated the abuse I suffered as a disability that had been forced upon me.
Two of the first movies we saw together were Rocky and Superman. I remember thinking that neither of them could hold a candle to Mark. Little did I know in 1977 that throughout the coming years he would continue to surpass them, as he was truly a quiet hero who repeatedly beat insurmountable odds. He never wanted, nor asked for help since he felt he could do it himself. His independence and desire for people to see and accept him for who he was, were core to his existence.
As a result he lived a full, productive life, and touched many. It would be presumptuous of me to try to encapsulate all that he did or was into “one favorite memory.” Mark was passionate about life and people. One example was when he recently became a MedEvac Outreach Volunteer and it was his hope he could finally help the flight crew. A drunk driver hit Mark in 1971—there were no air ambulances at that time, therefore, he did not have the benefit of the “Golden Hour.” I believe that by his desire to contribute to MedEvac, he felt he would in some small way help other accident victims survive.” This is why his realization of that particular dream stands out in my mind.”
Mark had refused to acknowledge his limitations, much less operate within said limitations. I, on the other hand, had given into the perceived reality of my circumstances without a whimper, my dream of being a writer and teacher, deferred indefinitely as I struggled to just—live.
I pondered why? We’d both been around the same age, him, seventeen, and me, eighteen, when we became disabled, yet Mark had chosen to fight tirelessly and endlessly to retain his status quo, whilst I floundered around for years, going from one mishap to the next. It seemed as though I had the words “perpetual victim” tattooed on my forehead.
Then one day I realized that instead of working towards healing, I was doing more wallowing than anything else. I blamed my circumstance, my parents, my job, oh and we can’t forget God—He got His share of the blame as well.
Then in one of those unexpected conversations with God, He dropped into my spirit that yes I’d been victimized, yes I’d continually been hurt, but I am still alive and able to learn from those situations and exercise the greatest gift He had ever given me “free will” or choice. Choice? Yes, choice. I could choose not to be a victim, I could choose forgiveness, I could choose healing…heck…I could choose Him!
What will your choice be for the New Year?
Also see closely related post Endings and New Beginnings: