Sunday November 3, 2013
Thoughts and Feelings from Virginia (Grandma)
I need to start with an assurance that all is well. A family motto is: Start with the End in Mind, or See the End from the Beginning.
It’s fascinating to see how those seasoned phrases actually direct your behavior when a crisis arises. Within minutes of the accident, Gary and Jodie, seemed to assess the ramifications of a broken C6-7 and then to move in a constructive direction. Same for Kollin. It’s too tender to recount his insights. Suffice it to say that he almost instantly understood the nature of his injury and then set his sights on maximizing his recovery options. Simply, move ahead with faith and confidence while also accepting the nature of his injury. I too am headed in a positive direction. The accumulating blessings are abundant and unanticipated. The kindness of others has filled me with wonder and astonishment. Gratitude flows naturally in the wake of such goodness and counterbalances the sorrow.
Integrity demands though that I acknowledge the very real emotions that tug at my heart. Two months and life is forever altered. I am still haunted on occasion as I wrap my mind around all the alterations Gary and Jodie and Kollin must make~ ramps, hunts for the handicapped access, inventorying all the items Kollin will need as he returns to his “real” life, expanding the sense of time he needs to dress, shower, the endless minutia of life. When I'm tired, when it’s dark outside, a sorrow gnaws. I am a degree removed from all the realities that now face Kollin and his parents. That degree of separation however encompasses the deep concern I feel for my own son and his wife. They are sleepless. Their backs hurt; their schedules will never be the same. A mother wishes beyond all to mitigate any trials that come to her child but I cannot alter reality. What I can do is to marvel at the extraordinary spiritual and physical strength that has come to both Gary and Jodie. I marvel and I rejoice.
Personally, there is still spill over from the accident into unanticipated moments in my life. I often feel guilty when I hop up to grab a snack, when I roll out of bed knowing my feet are there to support me, or when I approach a keyboard knowing my fingers are mine to command. I even recall a shadow of guilt as I felt full hearted joy in the presence of friends or in humor that brings deep, heart-healing laughter. Such a conundrum—blessings and kindness all awash in a world of hurt.
While I acknowledge the grief that hovers on the horizon but I must, with full voice and full sincerity speak the wonders that eclipse the heartache. Each of us is surrounded by uplifting people, by thoughtful acts that compel gratitude. Wonder and gratitude are powerful antidotes to the sorrow inside. Day by day and moment by moment we find cause for gratitude. My lifelong Latter-day Saint training in prayer—always start with “thank you”—has led me first to catalog God’s mercies. And an initial focus on blessings, a serious and profound acknowledgement of blessings, greatly diminishes my sense of need for further blessings. Proper perspective returns and my spirits rise, full of a sense of God’s goodness and God’s care for me and for those whom I love. Beyond a mindset that first catalogs blessings, my study of scripture as well as my observation of others, tutors me to look immediately to the Atonement of Jesus Christ for redress of my griefs. In that double bounty of Atonement I foresee ultimate and permanent resurrection for Kollin as well as immediate healing to his heart and soul. Certainly his eventual destiny is to retrieve his perfect body with all its strength and skill. I am bold enough even to anticipate a recovery of many of his physical abilities right now. From day to day, he improves. What was too difficult yesterday is a challenge he faces and conquers today.
We (his mom and dad in particular) have found gratitude to be a powerful antidote, a “wonder drug” to the mourner. Sheltered by the kindness, the prayers, the generosity of our many friends, the thoughtful gifts of those known and unknown to us, we feel no sense of isolation. The astonishing insights that have come from his missionary brother serving in Mozambique tutor us. Elder Braydon Galland lifts our spirits and challenges us to live eager to serve and full of appreciation for the spiritual maturity that has enveloped him and instructed us. Others stand firmly at our side, lending strength. We have come to know many who share similar experiences and in sharing their experience, offer hope and reveal patterns of recovery. That generosity and companionship counterbalances our sorrow. Like an eclipse of the moon, the moon is still there, its aurora continues to shine behind the eclipse, yet the moon is dark, as we marvel at the phenomenon.
As we awaken to a new day with acceptance of Kollin’s accident, we move ahead with purposeful design, determined to partner with him in recovery. Though he is very alone in his diminished body, his dad and mom, his brothers and friends are there to compensate. We know that good cheer is an emotion we can and do choose. Kollin’s inherent humor, kindness, and “up” tone compel the choice to embrace life, regardless of its particulars. The product of a spiritual reliance is a conditioned, a reflexive response to choose optimism, to face and embrace the task at hand.
As the days have passed, I have made a list of the sorrows we have been spared: There is no anger. No fear. No sense of isolation. No loss of faith; we maintain an uplifting paradigm that God is good and eases our burdens. We have felt no failure of resources. The gifts that cluster on his doorstep, the notes and cards, the visits, the inclusion of Kollin in the activities he enjoys, the thoughtfulness of others is overwhelming. From time to time when Kollin was in the hospital the door would open and in would come football players from both BYU and UofU (not at the same moment, fortunately). People with similar accidents would roll into the room and share their journey with him, allowing him to give voice to all the questions and uncertainties ahead. Kollin’s accident is unfortunate and life changing but we have experienced no tragedy. Tragedy comes only when there is loss of faith, failure to grow, isolation, absence of resources, crippling doubt, depression, or anger.
Instead we have discovered an intensified appreciation for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Kollin feels no loss of “self”. He is still KPG with cool red spokes on his wheelchair. His parents have found their life’s work; they have bonded with Kollin and his brothers in an even deeper trust. Gary and Jodie have shared their new labors in a united, symbiotic fashion. The siblings’ affection is spoken freely. Friends have been at Kollin’s side, continuing relationships as before, touching him with ease, feeling the need to connect. We have discovered promising venues for treatment. Gifted therapists are expanding his abilities and his vision of the future. We have a heightened sensitivity to others with disabilities. We feel broadened concern and ease in interaction with those whose lives are not like ours was once. We have learned the power that paradoxically comes and from submission and acceptance of life’s inevitable trials. Such surrender of will releases power and peace unknown to those who resist the realities of life.
Life is good. We hare buoyed up by an astonishing flood of care and good will that have come to us. We are grateful for our life’s paradigm, its spiritual power. Our gratitude overflows. The goodness of others and the gratitude that is its natural product heal us. Many thanks.