During a recovery period after one of my surgeries, I was not allowed to drive for months. The months became even longer because our car was a standard transmission—and both my physical therapist and my surgeon warned me that the shifting gears would set the recovery back on my right wrist. Unable to even drive myself to a haircut, I felt utterly isolated. I was, literally, stuck at home, incapable of getting to daily Mass or meeting a friend for lunch.
Like a toddler learning to walk, I battled to regain use of my arm in the smallest of tasks—opening a jar, holding a book, writing a note, and fixing my hair.
I longed for any sense of normality, and of course, for contact with the outside world. I missed the ordinary, normal things that, so often, I complain about having to do!
Then I got the news that my writer friend Gerri had suffered a stroke that threatened her life and left her paralyzed on half her body. Gerri’s recuperation has been truly miraculous and impressive, but the most amazing aspect was her attitude and perseverance—and her marvelous sense of humor. Like the email she sent—punctuated with a smiley face, reminding us:
“Still alive and sort of kicking. My stroke was 1 year ago, on 2-15. Thanks for all the prayers. Keep them coming, I'm far from back to normal.”
Or the email with dancing figures across the page where she joked, “I really miss driving my car and the ability to get to mass during the week—I am saving on gasoline costs, though!”
What Gerri reminds me of, constantly, is that only I can change my attitude. And attitude leads to behavior. It's not about noting that someone has it worse than me—someone will ALWAYS have it worse than me—but about stepping out of my personal swamp of self absorption and shaking off the mud long enough to walk in a different direction, towards someone else in need who needs my presence.