HomeAccident & recoveryGratitude

I don’t know why I sent out the original email blast announcing my accident. It was uncharacteristic: I have become, over the last couple of decades, reflexively private, tending to answer personal questions, however friendly, with a vague word or three, and an edge of “Why do you ask?” underlying my tone. So why share something so personal—and continue to share, through my blog—without even being asked? What impulse led me to this uncharacteristic act?

I don’t know. At the time, it was beyond question, just something I should do. Whatever the reason, the repercussions of following that impulse have the potential to change me radically, if I can allow it.

The flood of good will I received in response to my email astonished me. I figured I would hear from friends, but acquaintances and strangers alike have taken the time (!) to write me, sending messages of sympathy and solicitude, sincerely wishing me well. Some have forwarded the news to others, who have also responded. People have prayed for me, in all the various forms of action and energy prayer can take, and many continue, months later, to keep me in their thoughts. Some have opened up and shared their own encouraging stories of injury and healing. Some have thanked me (!) for sharing my story, for motivating them to work more safely. Some have offered help—real, genuine help. I am not accustomed to letting people help me.

My beloved, traumatized partner stepped up to take care of me in a way neither of us knew she could, setting aside her fears to tend daily to my ugly injured eye. My sisters dropped everything and came straightaway. My older sister, Amaranth, stayed for four full weeks, taking over my care during the day so that Karen could get back to work and applying homeopathy to help me heal. My younger sister, Angie, could only stay a week but remained on call to fly back if she was needed; she tracked my recovery faithfully and enlisted practically everyone she knows to pray for me. My mother lovingly cooked for me, foods soft enough for me to eat without chewing, comfort foods that nourished me body and soul. Sharon, a friend from long ago who had no reason to care so much in the present, wrote beautiful visualizations that showed me how to heal even when I lost my bearings. My friends Pat and Darcey stayed with Karen at the emergency room and during my retina surgery and have been constant sources of humor, support, treats, and substantial help (it was they who just enabled me to participate in the open-studio tour). My friend Art rigged a remote control for my fan so that I could stay comfortable tucked upright in my chair, and brought bags of DVDs and audio books to entertain me. Karen’s family continues to provide long-distance support for both Karen and me. Many more friends have offered help that we haven’t yet needed to call upon (but may still).

And gifts. Flowers and food baskets. A Zuni fetish dancing bear. A lovely poem. Money. The local woodturning club (which I helped found, back when I had just learned to turn) voted to give me a substantial donation toward my medical expenses. I cried when I received the check. My collectors all bought work, as did some friends who I’m pretty sure didn’t need it. Someone who doesn’t want to acquire any more stuff slipped me a check in a card. Someone else paid twice the amount for an item and wouldn’t take change. Another person quietly handed me an envelope containing a lovely note—and another check.

Such kindness is a revelation. I had not realized how cynical I had become.

I don’t know how to take in all this goodness. I am utterly humbled by this generosity.

What have I ever done to deserve all this?

Amaranth says I don’t have to have earned all this; that it is enough for me to just be who I am. I believe that is true for the rest of the world; I even occasionally feel it is true for me; but something in my heart persists in crying out, “I am not worthy!”

If I can answer this cry, how different might I be?

When my friend Art, ready to take umbrage on my behalf, mentioned recently that a prominent Buddhist teacher had just declared flatly that all bad experiences are due to karma, I realized that I haven’t been experiencing this injury as “bad” (not that my karma might not justify a bad experience). Day after day, what I have been experiencing is goodness, gratitude, grace.

Perhaps this feeling won’t last, but perhaps it will: perhaps in the end this will have been not an injury but a blessing.

And should I prove unable to fully accept this blessing and its deeper healing, I will, at the very least, endeavor quietly to be worthy of it.


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