Saturday, July 29, 2006

We Are Family

One of the greatest benefits of difficulty is that it reinforces the importance of relationships. In moments of difficulty you find yourself leaning on others like never before. Suffering reminds you that you were never constructed to do life by yourself. It reveals that for all your delusions of personal self-sufficiency, you are actually tied into a web of inter-dependent relationships without which you could never live. For all of its feelings of alienation and loneliness, difficulty is a highly relational experience.

Nicole is no longer suffering the awful physical pain that resulted from her injuries, but she is not pain free. No, she deals everyday with the pain of a shockingly altered life and a fundamental inability to be mobile. She is basically locked into three rooms of our house. Just about everything she does is done in those three rooms. Yesterday a wicked thunderstorm hit and I watched Nicole try to get to a window so she could see. She finally gave up in frustration. The pain Nikki feels now is the pain of being a prisoner of her injuries and the pain of not knowing how long it will be before her prison gates are unlocked.

Last night Nicole's prisoner monotony was broken up by an evening with her brother, Ethan, and his wife, Courtney. We had supper together and then played cards. I sat there very thankful for family. Ethan and Courtney didn't do anything unique or special. All they did was visit, but in so doing they brought their outside lives into Nicole's inside world. And while they were with us, the monotony was broken. I hated to see them go. I felt the quiet enter Nicole's three rooms again and I could sense that she was struggling with her plight.

Thankfully we are family. And thankfully, the borders of our family extend way beyond even our extended family. Last night family broke the monotony and interrupted the pain of immobility. It didn't take much. They didn't need the technical knowledge of a physician or counselor, simply the willingness to enter those three rooms and be themselves.


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