Today is an anniversary, of sorts, for me. When I was eleven years old I was involved in a severe car accident that crushed my upper jaw and left me needing ALOT of work on my mouth. The process took many years and left me with a phobia of the dentist! Eww, just the smell makes me want to run in the opposite direction.
So many things about that day are still imprinted on my mind like a daguerreotype chemically exposed on the back of my brain. Even though I was young, only eleven, that event changed me for the better. How can I say that? Its easy. Great pain (physical as well as mental) is a catalyst to bring us closer to understanding what our souls are made of. At the moment of impact I didn’t die, my life didn’t flash before my eyes. But something changed in me. Without anyone voicing it I realized how precious life is, how fragile it can be, how every moment matters, and I should always trust my instincts. Earlier that day as I played in the snow with my sister a thought crossed my mind. I knew something would happen that day. Four hours later the car I was in lost control in the snow and wrapped itself around a telephone pole. I wasn’t the only one hurt, either. Two of my cousins shared a hospital room with me.
Interesting, that my child brain was never upset about what happened. She was never bitter about not having paid attention to that instinctual feeling. Even at hospital when she looked at herself in the mirror and saw a puffed up swollen shape that only slightly resembled her face, she knew it would be ok. She saw it as a learning experience, a way to connect with something larger than herself. It was life-affirming instead of being the opposite.
I can honestly say that from that point on in my life when I felt something similar, I listened. Sometimes nothing came of it, sometimes something did. I might not have ever have been aware of that without that specific experience. My life would not be the same without that knowledge. What I have not been so good at, is accepting the challenges as something that will ultimately help me become a better person. My adult brain isn’t as gracefully accepting of the rollercoaster of ups and downs that make up life. This day every year reminds me that happiness doesn’t come from a string of good events. It comes from accepting who we are, what we have been through, and using that knowledge to grow.