the comfort we’ve received

29 09 2005

Wednesday afternoon on our way home, Grace and I stopped by Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation in downtown Dallas. I knew exactly where to park, where the elevators were, and how to get around. It was all familiar territory, because we spent most of the summer of 1996 on BIR’s third floor with Jacob.

But this time we came as visitors. A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a copy of an e-mail he’d written to the father of a young man, Eric, who’d suffered spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident. I learned that Eric’s original prognosis was total paralysis, but he’d recently begun to show evidence of sensation and mobility in his fingers and toes. My friend suggested I might be able to encourage them in their BIR journey, having walked a similar path myself. After several e-mail and phone exchanges, we arranged for the Wednesday afternoon visit.

Grace and I approached Eric’s room just as a transport tech was in the process of transfering a slender, 6’7″ young man from a wheelchair to the bed. I was amazed to see him raising his arms in what was obviously voluntary movement. He turned his head toward us and smiled.

“Are you Eric?” I asked.

“Yes. I just returned from swimming.”

As we waited for the tech to position him in bed, a blonde woman walked up beside us and smiled warmly. I extended my hand. “I’m Jeanne. Are you Eric’s mom?”

“Yes, I’m Sam. Jim told me you’d be coming by.”

Grace, Sam, and I entered the room together. The tech raised the head of Eric’s bed so he could sit. His lower body was covered by the blanket, but he still wore only swim trunks. Skin grafts, surgical scars, and pink skin from road burn covered large areas on the left side of his shirtless upper body. Thanks to an excellent helmet, his face and brain escaped injury when he crashed on an exit ramp going more than 100 mph. His motorcyle bounced off a concrete wall into a curb and slid across the asphalt. The handlebars punctured his side but struck no vital organs. He’d been through several surgeries for broken bones.

Eric has been on this road to recovery for three and a half months now. He’s a 21-year-old former athlete, and he’s just beginning the long, exhausting therapy process that may or may not enable him to walk again. Wanting to show us how he could slightly grip, he stared intently at his fingers, willing the signal to move through his damaged spinal cord, down his arm, and to his hand. The fingers fluttered forward, and Eric grinned.

So much trauma and pain. So far to go in the healing process with no guarantees. But Eric’s smile radiated calm trust and even joy. The soul that spoke in his shining eyes said, “All is well.”

In the last week or so he found the brain connection to raise and bend his arms. He can push his hair back. He can place his hand over his mouth. This brings him great delight.

Sam told us about taking Eric home for a visit. He was sitting in a leather recliner and requested her help to get up, but somehow as they attempted a transfer, the cushion slipped out of the chair and Eric slipped with it to the floor. She ended up beside him. Then they did about the only thing they could do. They laughed. And for the next little while, they just stayed there on the floor, talking and laughing.

He laughed as he told Grace and me about his mom’s attempts to fix his hair the way he likes it. He laughed when a therapist I remembered from nine years ago entered the room and I reminded him he’d worn a pony tail back then. I never sensed the slightest hint of bitterness in Eric. No blaming. No whining. No asking, “Why me?” There was only peace, peace, peace.

Eric has gotten to know most of the other patients on the spinal cord injury floor. He expressed his concern for some of them and said he’s tried to help them face their anger and questions. We talked for at least an hour. And always there was that smile. Always that light in his eye.

Finally I said, “Eric, I came here hoping I could encourage you. But I honestly think you’ve encouraged me more.”

When we said goodbye to Eric and his lovely mother, it felt like leaving old friends. Dear friends. I will follow his story with much interest, because I know it will be beautiful.

I remember a line from an Amy Carmichael poem. “In acceptance lieth peace.” There are things in life we would love to change, but we are powerless to do so. There comes a time when we have to decide we either believe there’s a God ruling the universe or we don’t.

I believe. Eric believes. It shines in his eyes and lights his smile, falling like a gentle benediction on anyone who enters his presence.

We comfort others with the comfort we’ve received. I visited Eric at BIR. And I was comforted.


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33 responses

30 09 2005
furiavriel

thank you for writing this.

love,
luke

30 09 2005
furiavriel

thank you for writing this.

love,
luke

30 09 2005
furiavriel

thank you for writing this.

love,
luke

30 09 2005
jeannedamoff

You’re welcome, my lovely.

30 09 2005
jeannedamoff

You’re welcome, my lovely.

30 09 2005
jeannedamoff

You’re welcome, my lovely.

1 10 2005
Anonymous

Eric

Jeanne:

Thanks for following up with Eric and his family and sharing the story. I belive in my head every day. Pray for it to get to my heart that often.

Keep on,

Craig.

1 10 2005
Anonymous

Eric

Jeanne:

Thanks for following up with Eric and his family and sharing the story. I belive in my head every day. Pray for it to get to my heart that often.

Keep on,

Craig.

1 10 2005
Anonymous

Eric

Jeanne:

Thanks for following up with Eric and his family and sharing the story. I belive in my head every day. Pray for it to get to my heart that often.

Keep on,

Craig.

2 10 2005
emma_furlong

A lesson learned

Yes I agree, thank you for blogging your experience.
When our eyes are open and we are listening to another we do learn lessons that we never expected. You were an encourager but were opened to being encouraged also.
Emma

2 10 2005
emma_furlong

A lesson learned

Yes I agree, thank you for blogging your experience.
When our eyes are open and we are listening to another we do learn lessons that we never expected. You were an encourager but were opened to being encouraged also.
Emma

2 10 2005
emma_furlong

A lesson learned

Yes I agree, thank you for blogging your experience.
When our eyes are open and we are listening to another we do learn lessons that we never expected. You were an encourager but were opened to being encouraged also.
Emma

2 10 2005
Anonymous

Wow, Once again I am moved.

You and your family are a “real” treasure. Your blogs are inspiring and touch me deeply, sometimes to tears, sometimes to laughter. May God continue to bless you & your family. —Laughter, Tears, Hugs, Tough conversation and Life lessons fitting seemingly, randomly together and then revelations along the way as to “why they all kinda fit and tell a story” —seeing God’s love radiate throughout … is and are remarkably beautiful. Thank you for continuing to give us snapshots of why life is amazing and a gift. Warm regards, Michal(sounds like Michelle)Fleury

2 10 2005
Anonymous

Wow, Once again I am moved.

You and your family are a “real” treasure. Your blogs are inspiring and touch me deeply, sometimes to tears, sometimes to laughter. May God continue to bless you & your family. —Laughter, Tears, Hugs, Tough conversation and Life lessons fitting seemingly, randomly together and then revelations along the way as to “why they all kinda fit and tell a story” —seeing God’s love radiate throughout … is and are remarkably beautiful. Thank you for continuing to give us snapshots of why life is amazing and a gift. Warm regards, Michal(sounds like Michelle)Fleury

2 10 2005
Anonymous

Wow, Once again I am moved.

You and your family are a “real” treasure. Your blogs are inspiring and touch me deeply, sometimes to tears, sometimes to laughter. May God continue to bless you & your family. —Laughter, Tears, Hugs, Tough conversation and Life lessons fitting seemingly, randomly together and then revelations along the way as to “why they all kinda fit and tell a story” —seeing God’s love radiate throughout … is and are remarkably beautiful. Thank you for continuing to give us snapshots of why life is amazing and a gift. Warm regards, Michal(sounds like Michelle)Fleury

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Eric

Craig, it was your thoughtfulness that connected us with Eric in the first place. Thanks so much.

I’m praying for you.

J.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Eric

Craig, it was your thoughtfulness that connected us with Eric in the first place. Thanks so much.

I’m praying for you.

J.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Eric

Craig, it was your thoughtfulness that connected us with Eric in the first place. Thanks so much.

I’m praying for you.

J.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: A lesson learned

Thanks, Emma. Eric is precious. I think anyone who meets him will be encouraged.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: A lesson learned

Thanks, Emma. Eric is precious. I think anyone who meets him will be encouraged.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: A lesson learned

Thanks, Emma. Eric is precious. I think anyone who meets him will be encouraged.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

Thanks so much, Michal. I’m honored to know my words touch you.

I hope the fall quarter is off to a good start for Zach. I miss his writing. Grace is on a plane for Seattle right now. Maybe she can convince Zach to return to LJ land?

Love,
J.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

Thanks so much, Michal. I’m honored to know my words touch you.

I hope the fall quarter is off to a good start for Zach. I miss his writing. Grace is on a plane for Seattle right now. Maybe she can convince Zach to return to LJ land?

Love,
J.

3 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

Thanks so much, Michal. I’m honored to know my words touch you.

I hope the fall quarter is off to a good start for Zach. I miss his writing. Grace is on a plane for Seattle right now. Maybe she can convince Zach to return to LJ land?

Love,
J.

3 10 2005
Anonymous

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

Zach got a new job over the summer doing music ministry on Bainbridge, Is. He seems very happy with all the people and is stretching himself a bit in teaching music and drawing kids out. My thought is that he is primarily spending all his creative mind & energy on face to face interactment & ministy. Which I believe is a healthy stepping stone for him. I have never seen Zach look more settled and happier. The other day we sat on the street together, outside a Seattle coffee shop and I gazed over at him from the side and thought to myself for the first time ever…Why, He looks just like his picture on his L.J. at 5yrs old only bigger and older. The skeptic has pretty much left the planet and left the “darling” hopeful & contented part of Zach here. It is really cool. I do miss his writing though. But I am thrilled with this point in his life. I also hope Grace can hook up with him, but mostly because he missed her a lot.

Your friend via the internet,

Michal Fleury

3 10 2005
Anonymous

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

Zach got a new job over the summer doing music ministry on Bainbridge, Is. He seems very happy with all the people and is stretching himself a bit in teaching music and drawing kids out. My thought is that he is primarily spending all his creative mind & energy on face to face interactment & ministy. Which I believe is a healthy stepping stone for him. I have never seen Zach look more settled and happier. The other day we sat on the street together, outside a Seattle coffee shop and I gazed over at him from the side and thought to myself for the first time ever…Why, He looks just like his picture on his L.J. at 5yrs old only bigger and older. The skeptic has pretty much left the planet and left the “darling” hopeful & contented part of Zach here. It is really cool. I do miss his writing though. But I am thrilled with this point in his life. I also hope Grace can hook up with him, but mostly because he missed her a lot.

Your friend via the internet,

Michal Fleury

3 10 2005
Anonymous

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

Zach got a new job over the summer doing music ministry on Bainbridge, Is. He seems very happy with all the people and is stretching himself a bit in teaching music and drawing kids out. My thought is that he is primarily spending all his creative mind & energy on face to face interactment & ministy. Which I believe is a healthy stepping stone for him. I have never seen Zach look more settled and happier. The other day we sat on the street together, outside a Seattle coffee shop and I gazed over at him from the side and thought to myself for the first time ever…Why, He looks just like his picture on his L.J. at 5yrs old only bigger and older. The skeptic has pretty much left the planet and left the “darling” hopeful & contented part of Zach here. It is really cool. I do miss his writing though. But I am thrilled with this point in his life. I also hope Grace can hook up with him, but mostly because he missed her a lot.

Your friend via the internet,

Michal Fleury

4 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

I’m so pleased to hear that Zach has banished the skeptic and become a big, old, darling, hopeful & contented five year old! 🙂 Settled and happy are good things as are face-to-face interactment and ministry. All so very good.

Next time you and Zach sit outside a coffee shop in Seattle together, drink a caffeinated toast to your faraway friends in Texas.

4 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

I’m so pleased to hear that Zach has banished the skeptic and become a big, old, darling, hopeful & contented five year old! 🙂 Settled and happy are good things as are face-to-face interactment and ministry. All so very good.

Next time you and Zach sit outside a coffee shop in Seattle together, drink a caffeinated toast to your faraway friends in Texas.

4 10 2005
jeannedamoff

Re: Wow, Once again I am moved.

I’m so pleased to hear that Zach has banished the skeptic and become a big, old, darling, hopeful & contented five year old! 🙂 Settled and happy are good things as are face-to-face interactment and ministry. All so very good.

Next time you and Zach sit outside a coffee shop in Seattle together, drink a caffeinated toast to your faraway friends in Texas.

12 12 2005
Anonymous

Meeting Eric

Jeanne:

I introduced myself to Eric and his dad at church yesterday. (He was easy to spot with his wheelchair, and with that smile and the light in his eyes you described so well.) You should have seen Eric’s face light up even more at the mention of your name. He told me you were a very special person and how much he appreciated your visit.

Keep on,

Craig.

12 12 2005
Anonymous

Meeting Eric

Jeanne:

I introduced myself to Eric and his dad at church yesterday. (He was easy to spot with his wheelchair, and with that smile and the light in his eyes you described so well.) You should have seen Eric’s face light up even more at the mention of your name. He told me you were a very special person and how much he appreciated your visit.

Keep on,

Craig.

12 12 2005
Anonymous

Meeting Eric

Jeanne:

I introduced myself to Eric and his dad at church yesterday. (He was easy to spot with his wheelchair, and with that smile and the light in his eyes you described so well.) You should have seen Eric’s face light up even more at the mention of your name. He told me you were a very special person and how much he appreciated your visit.

Keep on,

Craig.

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