Out of nowhere, I heard what sounded like a shotgun going off just next to my left ear. Before I knew it, my 1/2 ton Ford Van went careening across all three lanes of traffic going south, continued through the median, and proceeded to fly into the on-coming traffic. Then, everything went dark.
I don’t know how long I was out on that November day in late 1997, but the next thing I knew, I awoke to an EMT asking me a barrage of questions, like,“What’s your name?’ “Where do you live?” “Do you know your phone number?” “Are you married?” “What’s your Social Security Number?”
As I did my best, to answer the questions, I tried to figure out where I was, and what had happened. The first thing I noticed was that my view was filled with a blue sky dotted by puffy white clouds.
“Wasn’t I just in my car?” I thought to myself.
Then, as I stared to wonder if the whole accident hadn’t simply been a big dream, the pain kicked in.
Now, 100% sure that this was more nightmare than dream, and all too real, I noticed my van’s radio antenna. This seemed odd, for I knew that was the antenna was on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Then, I realized the enormity of what had happened—I was hanging half in, and half out of the passenger side of the van (which was the opposite side of the van from where I’d started out.)
My face was covered in blood, and as the paramedics on the scene began to employ the Jaws of Life, a whole new fear enveloped me.
Petrified, I wondered, “What if I have broken my neck again?” and “What if that break would take away more movement?”
I was pretty sure that at least one of my wrists were broken, but that was the least of my worries, and so with all the courage I could muster, I started moving my wrists up and down.
Tears streamed down my face. One of the EMT’s saw the tears and my moving wrists, and told me that it wouldn’t hurt so bad if I would keep my wrists stable,
What he didn’t know, was that the tears weren’t from the pain, instead, they were from an overwhelming sense of joy. Based on what I knew about my spinal cord injury, I was pretty sure that moving my wrists meant I had not lost any additional movement—that of all the injuries that happened in the wreck, I hadn’t done any more damage to my spinal cord.
That day, pain was a good thing.
The adage has proved itself in the years that have followed. It is pain that reminds us of our blessings. It is pain that teaches us things like humility, and diligence. It’s pain that gives us character, and pain that helps us love what we have along with what we’ve had the opportunity to have. It is pain that often glues us together.
Pain isn’t ever fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact it is often just the thing that reminds of all that is wonderful.
Yes, I’m quite sure that sometimes pain is a good thing.