Meeting other authors this past week has really got me thinking, particularly after getting to know three of them with such different stories to tell. They’ve all had some form of tragedy strike the people they love. One lost a child forever from a car accident. One writes of a little boy whose disease will rob him of his future. And one tells of a miraculous recovery of her loved one like that of my book, but with a completely different quality of life moving forward.
After having my family over yesterday for the holiday and having a fantastic day, I started reading one of those author’s books, “Falling Away From You” by Nicole Bingaman. Her 21-year old son fell down the stairs, suffering a traumatic brain injury that changed him forever. Did she get her son back? Yes, but not the one she knew.
I know all books come and go in our lives and we read stories or articles about difficult situations and empathize with people as we’re engaged at that moment. But I think naturally we eventually put it out of our minds and go on with our day. No one wants to consistently be thinking about or dealing with sadness as it will really wear on you. Is Nicole thankful her son survived? That goes without saying, but it doesn’t make her family’s daily journey any easier.
This makes me think about our family. We received the miracle of a life saved also, and in more than one way. My mom beat a deadly disease and a cardiac event that only 7% of people survive. She is also the exact person she was before all of that happened and that is where the true struggle comes in. I am not talking about a struggle like Nicole’s family deals with, but a more subtle struggle to appreciate.
Each day when Nicole sees her son, I am sure she is grateful he is with her, but it is also a daily reminder of the way his life is forever altered. Beyond being an author, she is now a wonderful speaker, helping others to cope with the aftermath of traumatic brain injury. She is taking the continued struggle and choosing to be a light for others. I find her inspirational.
Nancy Magargle’s book “A Time to Die, A Time to Live,” tells of the loss of her daughter way too young. I am sure the prayers were the same as ours…send us a miracle, bring her back to us. But the outcome would not be the same, she would not get that happy ending. Both these mothers had a child in a coma, one came out and one didn’t. Now that I know of Nancy’s story, I think about it more and more, about how grateful I am for our ending. Nancy’s strength in telling her story is a marvel, I cannot comprehend the depths of sorrow at losing your child and obviously each day is a reminder of her loss. But she will touch others because of her courage and faith to carry on.
Then then there is Jake Grosky, who writes about a local 13-year old boy, Josiah, in “Short Season.” Josiah has Progeria, causing him to age about 10 years for every one year of life. Absolutely heartbreaking. Yet there is so much to learn from this boy, who Jake says has a love for life that is magnetic. I have heard that same scenario so many times, but it always amazes me. People and children with health issues beyond my comprehension can be some of the happiest and most joyous to be around. Why is that? How do they make the effort to soak in the best life has to offer, all without being resentful of the terrible hand they have been dealt? Especially when so many around them take so much for granted… Josiah will not live to adulthood and have a family, but he will leave his mark on this world in the best way he knows how, by making a decision to appreciate today.
For our family, I think it is so easy to forget what happened because Mom walks around today with the same smile on her face, the same look in her eyes, the same abilities she had before, with no lasting health effects. There was a time we thought she may have brain damage, but she didn’t. All the things we were hoping and praying for, we received. Now I think we must move to a new phase the best we can, conscious appreciation. If we don’t, we don’t do justice to those who didn’t get the outcome they prayed for. God will most definitely use their stories for good, but it doesn’t make the pain any easier.
I will be the first to admit, I fail to appreciate the little things everyday; that my oldest son comes home from school safely, that my youngest is healthy and strong, that my husband has a good job, that we have a roof over our heads. But, meeting these amazing authors has given me another reason to do better, to strive for more. There will be days I will still take for granted that my family will live long and healthy lives and forget the blessings we’ve received, I am flawed. So all I can do is try to make a new habit and that takes time, effort, and a daily decision. But if we all try our best to do the same, the ripple effect could cause a wave, a wave of conscious appreciation. What a beautiful world it would be.
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