You can’t be a member of the disabled community without having asked yourself that question many times. Most likely there is no plausible answer, which is why we keep asking the question in the first place. When I speak to groups I am amazed that so many people believe life is safe and that we are almost always secure in our environment even though I believed that myself before my own accident; life altering occurrences were something that happened to others. A while ago I wrote a Blog entitled “Wishes and Daydreams” (April 2010) where I talked about my envy of my nurse’s son who was graduating from high school and entering the United States Navy to become a corpsman. Well, almost three years have passed since I wrote that and he is a corpsman stationed at a large naval hospital on an island in the Pacific Ocean.

Devin was home on leave in February and looked terrific. He’s just 20 years old, is a fine young man and a credit to his family and country. While here, he expressed concern for several of his buddies from corpsman school who had been assigned to the United States Marine Corps and sent to Afghanistan. Devin was concerned for their safety and felt he should be there, too.

Last week he was not feeling well but thought he was just getting a cold. Long story short, he is now in the intensive care unit of the hospital, seriously ill with an unidentified illness serious enough for the Navy to fly his mother and father to be with him. His condition is such that he is not stable enough to be medevac’d to the mainland. How ironic, his buddies are at the end of their tours in Afghanistan and coming home, and he is the one gravely ill. Why?

What a terrible reminder to all of us of the frailty of life. Most of us have already experienced it first hand and had the lesson driven home to us in an all too real way. To stress how precarious life can be, the staff at Craig Hospital, where I went for my rehabilitation, often refers to individuals without disabilities as TABS (Temporarily Able Bodied). We can reduce our chances of having major trauma by following cautious behaviors. The greatest daily risk faced by most Americans is automobile travel. The potential risk of being hurt in a car accident, like most risks, can be reduced by following certain procedures such as wearing your seatbelt, driving within the speed limit, not driving when your ability is impaired by alcohol or drugs, and avoiding behaviors which distract your concentration from driving, like talking on a cell phone. However, all the precautions in the world guarantee nothing. We are still vulnerable and often at the mercy of circumstances beyond our control.

I believe there are a number of lessons here for everyone from this situation, not just the disabled community. We must take time to enjoy every day. We should realize that our situations could still change in an instant. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we should accept what has happened to us and make the best of our situation regardless of our own circumstances. Finally, we can stop asking why and just accept what is. We will be much less frustrated, mentally healthier and better off in the long run. It seems to me the best answer to the question WHY comes from Travis Roy who has said, “There are times in our lives when we choose our challenges and other times when challenges simply choose us. It is what we do in the face of those challenges that defines who we are, and more importantly, who we can and will become.”

2 responses to “Why?

  1. You are so right, so many people live their lives without thinking, often squandering away their time, instead of truly living, and it often takes a huge trauma to gain perspective. Occasionally we don’t even realize our brushes with death, until we look back. I contracted a tick-borne illness that nearly killed me a few years ago. The doctors thought I had full blown AIDS (which I don’t have), I recovered, but never 100% and have had lingering symptoms, however, I have to remind myself that all we have is now, our family and friends, and loved ones, and that time spent dwelling on ones problems be they large or small, is time that could have been spent telling someone you love them, watching a sunset, holding hands, or just calling someone to let them know you are thinking about them.

    You were one of my favorite teachers in school, (even though I was a less than spectacular student) and you are still teaching us now. When I need perspective or feel sorry for myself, I come and read your blog. I am planning a trip to NY this fall, and would love to visit, which I hope you will consider allowing me to do.

  2. So true, one truly doesn’t know how much time we have, and as such it is best spent connecting with those you love, and it seems this is seldom realized until we have a brush with death.

    You were one of my favorite teachers in school, and are still teaching us. I am planning a trip to NY this fall and would love to see you. I don’t even know if you remember me, I was a very quiet kid, and a not a spectacular student at the time. I hope you will consider letting me come to visit on my trip up.
    take care
    Chris Benedict Callahan

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