My friend sent me a link to this song today and out of nowhere I just stared tearing up. As you watch the video and the text comes up, you listen the worlds, you see his smile, it all becomes more real. It also becomes all the more sad. You see this artist, Zach Sobiech died of bone cancer and embraced his last days with music, happiness and joy. I am glad that he enjoyed his last days. It still makes me sad. It hits my heart hard.
Maybe its because I have been in a state of uncertainty and not knowing what the future had in store. in fact there are parts of my life I do not remember and this happens to be part of that time. As I lay in the hospital bed that would change my life forever, I had no idea. In my head I must have been in dreamland or that long gapping black hole. I am not sure. Maybe that’s the TBI (traumatic brain injury) that was key in this part, but regardless, I am filled with empty memories.
Anyway, the reason I am getting into this is because the past couple days some exciting things have been happening. I just signed up to take 19 units which is exciting that I am attempting to pursue my degree and work extra hard to hopefully graduate in spring! Maybe its because this weekend an old friend got married and at his wedding reception I got to catch up with an old teammate as well as my high school cross country coach. Whenever I see him, he asks the serious questions showing his concern about my health, well being and school life. Its always nice and I appreciate when people care like him, and ask the tough questions. BUT, more importantly are willing to listen and to hear the bad not just the good topical information like most people see and know about. He is open to hearing about the headaches, the fatigue, the change in diet, the stress, the struggles and the constant battles the sometimes seem never ending. I appreciate conversations with people like this. However, I have realized that especially when I am doing fairly well, or stressing about unimportant situations the reality of my life brings me back to reality. To the reality that I cannot do and will not do everything I can, sometimes because I know it will tire me, other times its just out of choice. It reminds me that I am not the girl I was in high school who did everything and knew everyone.
Today, I realized to some degree I am still that same girl. I may not be in a ton of clubs or sports but I am in charge of the robotics program, I am a team leader in a weekly community homeless ministries group, I travel and I like to hang out and adventure around with my friends when I have time. I may not be who I was before the accident, nor will I ever be. But today I realize that I still have my same character and have decided my motto is “No Excuses” because that is how I approach life. I can still say no or that I don’t want to do something but that is a choice, there is no reason to throw in an excuse. Maybe its just a mental thing but it is something that really seems to define my worldview and for that I am grateful. I am honored that my coach messaged me today and wants to introduce me to this years high school team. I graduated 4 years ago, why choose me? Why share my story? What makes me special?
I was no amazing runner in high school and I struggled. I even had a couple injuries that I battled with along the way. I ran only a few varsity races and it was often as back up. I didn’t ever break 6 minutes for the 1600m and although I made it to a college team, I never raced. I dealt with teammates that hated me for something that I didn’t do. I was ignored, I was treated rudely and all while being in a walking boot. I was expected to do things that I had clearly addressed I was not healthy enough to do–it was still expected of me. It hurt. I cried. ALOT. Sometimes, still do. It wasn’t ok. One day I realized that it wasn’t part of G-d’s plan for my life to be an extraordinary runner. Just to be a runner. To be an athlete. To work hard and to run lots when healthy. I quit. I don’t think I had ever quit anything before. I always stuck it out. I finally learned it wasn’t worth the stress or the pain. When I left the team, I found time to participate in college and hang out with friends. I started a club. I worked. I got an internship. I got into cycling. I started a robotics program. I went backpacking. I went kayaking. I studied abroad. I started to try new things! I stayed up till 2am just because I could and didn’t have practice at 6am. I completed a mini triathalon and my running time even surprised me. I had time to go to weekly homeless ministries and got the opportunity to get to know many people in the community and my life felt and still does feel like it is constantly changing.
I don’t know what will come of this introduction to the team but I feel honored. I feel honored that of all people I was chosen. I feel grateful for who I am and for all the blessings and opportunities G-d has lead me to and through. If only I had the strength to say the same thing when difficulties and low points had and do hit. I don’t know why I was in the accident. I don’t know why I was chosen to get a brain injury. I don’t know why I was chosen? Me out of all people. Although I would love to ask G-d and know, I know that this is a secret that G-d continues to lead me through and bless me with clues along the way. He continues to use me in ways I don’t even see at the time.
Nights like yesterday when I am out in the community and serving the homeless and things are going fairly smoothly make me feel slightly infinite. I feel the past nights of service and feel hopeful of the future but at that moment I am stuck in the present. To wrap up I will just share two stories from yesterday. The first happened at our first stop when this woman mentioned something about country music. I broke into “the ring of fire…burning ring of fire” and she sang right along. Then a boy in our group broke into some Backstreet Boys and a few of us joined in. BUT by far the best, was the last song when I started singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and both the homeless people there and the rest of my group joined in. We sang as much of the lyrics that we knew and then laughed off the rest. It was in those moments that I feel humbled and felt infinite. I felt the barriers of social status broken down to the reality that we are all just human. We all like music and music just like prayer has the opportunity to connect us to unlikely situations. The final story was one of the last women we saw and she just asked for prayer for the homeless community in general as well as health. As I prayed I felt a strong presence of G-d lingering and leading me into a prayer much longer than I had anticipated. I was enjoying G-d being right there with me and it felt divine. When we all said “Amen” and I looked up to the woman she smiled her wide toothless smile and said that was a pretty prayer. I then realized I was almost in tears. It was incredible and nights like the one I had less than 24 hours ago are reasons I serve the homeless. They are reasons all those rough nights make it worth it and the crazy thing is that in reality it wasn’t anything extraordinary but for me it was.