Mile Marker 12:
I got the news today that someone very important to me was hurt in an accident.
With this news, I felt myself falling -- flying through space, really – and landing on unfamiliar ground. The other side.
When I studied filmmaking in college, one of the hard and fast rules of camerawork was not to cross 180 degrees. If a camera shot shifted 180 degrees, the viewers would be confused. They’d see a mirror image of what they’d seen before.
This is exactly where I’ve landed. My viewpoint has shifted over that line. I’m no longer the victim. Instead, I’m suddenly the person who cares, the person who can’t figure out what to do to help.
What does one do in this situation? Go about the normal daily routine? Get coffee. Pay bills. Get a haircut? The business of things, which felt so important and demanding before, feels so bare and meaningless on the other side of this line.
I talked to my good friend Bosco about it tonight. “When I heard what happened to you,” she said, “I felt exactly the same way.” She said it was late afternoon when my brother called her with the news of my accident. When she hung up the phone, she didn’t know what to do. His words echoed in her mind while she debated, “Do I sit back down and do my work?” And now, 8 months later, she can’t remember what she actually did; she says the rest of that work day is a blur. She does remember that evening, however, taking a walk with her sister. Talking it all through. Trying to make sense of it.
When I woke up in the ICU, I already had flowers. They were from Matt, Dan, Debbie, Heidi and Carl -- friends near and far. I wasn’t sure how the news had traveled, but then cards started coming. Packages, too. Tokens from all the people who cared about me, but didn’t know what to do.
What these people (and maybe YOU) didn’t know at that time, was that these small tokens and thoughts colored my room and filled my heart every moment of every day. I looked forward to tearing open your envelopes! We used surgical tape to hang your cards and photos on the walls and sides of my bed. Your flowers and plants turned my window ledge into a garden. Battery-operated candles from my friend Shelley offered hope when my room was dark. A huge teddy bear in a Landskaters t-shirt took up permanent residence at the bottom of my bed, on the side where my left foot would have been.
What you probably didn’t realize is that your thoughts and wishes became the air that I breathed every day.
Fortunately, today’s news was that my friend is going to be ok. That’s really all that’s important, and I'm truly thankful for that.
Still, here I am on unfamiliar ground. I care so much, but feel utterly powerless. I want to help, but even with my experience behind me, I can’t think of a single thing to do.
So I’m going to follow YOUR lead. I'm going to send my thoughts and prayers and wishes, and believe that they will make a difference. Here, on the other side.