Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When it’s not the life you had in mind...

It was with tear-filled eyes I watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly on 20/20. All the usual adjectives have been used to describe her struggle to recover from the terrible trauma caused by the bullet that sliced through her brain last January...valiant, brave, fighter. Yes, she is all that. But what occurred to me as the videos of her progress played is that she is now a teacher and a role model for all that the human being can be.

Will she ever totally be the person she was. Probably not. She will most assuredly continue to improve, fighting tough battles to do the small things we all take so for granted and beating odds that would have defeated most people – stopped them from dreaming of what they could still accomplish. But Gabby Giffords still has much to offer. Her smile and her spirit are glorious to behold! It is obvious that the poignant dedication and love that Mark brings her every day has been an enormous part of her recovery. But she will not be living the life she had in mind. She is not the same person she was when she married her astronaut husband four years ago. Whether she returns to Congress as Arizona’s representative still remains to be seen. It may seem like too easy a goal, after all she has been through. She may have something even more ambitious in mind. She knows she still has much work to do in her therapy and recovery.

What does one do when, in a heartbeat, life changes. One minute your dreams are on a fast track to being realized and a second later you are powerless to live the life you planned. That fast. It would leave many people devastated and defeated. Most of us have lived lives of privilege and ease, no matter what we believe our problems to be. We’ve perhaps never been asked to show such incredible strength. But when that moment comes when our dreams are suddenly shattered and we must discover what we’re made of, that is when the human spirit is it’s most noble and inspiring. We are capable of so much more than we know! So much more.

Gabby has accomplished as much as she has through sheer determination and hard work...really hard work. That’s the secret word. It’s HARD. Whatever has changed our lives from what we had in mind to what we have requires the effort to find new dreams, to discover what is now possible. It is clearly far more than we could have imagined.

Gabby, you are teaching us about strength and courage and how worthwhile is the struggle. Our hearts continue to be with you.

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