I had a loved one with a lower spinal cord injury. Had, because he's no longer with us today, but ended up living an incredibly full life, despite the hardships he faced. There were a few things that I learned from him, and I decided to spread his words here.
He'd get caught up in the past. He'd spend hours of his life sitting in a hangar, gazing up at the remains of the very machine that took his legs from him. A plane, with crinkled wings and splashes of red paint. I figured that plane would never leave his thoughts, but sometimes it was his sight, too. He spent years drowning himself in the past, the dreams he used to have.
The dreams he thought he would never have again. The first thing I learned from him was that this was all a pile of dung.
You should never give up on your dreams. You've likely heard this many times, from doctors and family, friends who don't have an inkling of how terrible you feel some days.
The second thing was that you should always remember to help yourself. If you need it, you should do it. It's a life changing experience, and you and the people around you need to adapt, make changes. You might not be the same person you were a year ago, but the right thing can still be done.
It's something we deserve, as humans, he used to say to me.
"I might be able to just sit in the corner for hours by myself, I'm not high maintenance, but that doesn't mean I deserve it."
Another of his well-known (within our community) sayings.
Today, I've made a donation to a charity of choice in his name. I thought of those times I'd catch him looking at that plane.
And then I thought of the times I caught him doing that with a brilliant smile on his face, remembering how much he loved his life.
Photo by Bernd Thaller.