This long memoir was written Saturday with a group of strangers who became friends. I had decided to join a creative writing group to be more intentional in this city. Read about that HERE. It's July. The wind is absent, the sun perfectly placed in the sky. I lay in the sand next to a friend, a team member, conversing about basketball. The warmth of the bright orb in the sky soaks through our skin, the cool-warmth of the ocean beckoning us. Torso sitting up, I place my hands on each side of the pineapple towel, and push myself to standing position. Sweltering sand, sifting between my toes. The blue sky hugs my soul as I slowly stride from the beach's shore into the depths of the clear water. Drenched chest deep, I am able to see straight through to the tips of my toes. Clear as air. Clenching to flotation device, a shadow is cast before me. My eyes curve upward to see a mass of water, a giant threatening the air I breathe. Quickly, my eyes deep blue dart to the man directly below this wave thrusting him a warning to dive beneath its base. The hulking wave must have cracked like an egg on my cranium. Suddenly, slammed into the sea's sand, head first, I feel my body being controlled by the force of the ocean. Tossing me in circles, throwing me about, I was a rag doll twisting and turning, limbs being tugged in opposite directions. The ocean is merely toying with my life. A second blast and I feel torn to pieces, head first once again forced into the crust of the ocean and all goes black.
- - -
I barely wake to feel the pulling of the master, the ocean, to feel the dark threatening my conscience. Fearfully, I muster up any and all strength to shriek for assistance, as my body tingles into numbness. Paralyzed by sheer terror, a vision of myself in a wheel chair courses through my 16 year old mind. As the blackness of unconsciousness takes hold again, I make a plea to my Jesus.
- - -
I become aware of agonizing pain down my neck, thoroughly coursing the right half of my body. I am outside of myself and I am in myself. Writhing in misery, I cry out pleading for relief. A body-board is beneath me, building steadiness for my body. Faces peer at me, prodding my body looking for areas of feeling. My left limbs lie numb. I beg and I beseech for an ambulance. "They're on their way - about an hour." Discouragement settles as I wait, terrified I may never walk normally again, afraid I cannot play sports.
- - -
The sirens soar through the still air. Hastily four men lift me from the body-board to the gurney. Without smoothness, the men rush through the clumpy sand towards the white, flashing box; I am irritated with the movement. I want to scream, but I cry.
- - -
Strapped into the vehicle, fear rushes over me again. Their words strike a deeper level of angst than I am prepared for: "Hand me the scissors. We have to cut her clothes off." My heart speeds rapidly, a million stallions stampede across it. I whimper, for my sacred body is about to be fully exposed to many eyes. Attempting to brace myself, tears stream from the sockets of my eyelids. Clear tears slowly streak my sand-covered cheeks as they strip me bare. The chilled air of the ambulance torments me with goose bumps, as their icy hands inspect every inch of my body for visible damage. Trying to keep from yelping with pain, they explain we are another long, bumpy hour away.
Angry at this, I feel as though the road is filled with huge boulders and we are driving over them with haste. Each deep pothole endangering me with a jolt that threatens to pierce my body with pain.
The worry decreases, as I begin to ache all over. For the first time, I am grateful for pain - it is fighting for my limb's lives. I am in Hawaii, far from my mother who is in Georgia where it is 3 am. After their third attempted phone call, I am informed she gave consent to relieve me of my searing, stabbing spasms with whatever medication they deep appropriate. The IV brings hope as they fill my precious veins with morphine, distracting me with the soothing relief of the slightest of sleep.
Sand caked into my skill, my ears, and ever crease and crevice. Sand looms and attempts to make a home in me. Half conscious, I feel cold icy hands rolling my bare body from side to side, wiping out as much sand as possible. Layers deep, the nurse says it could be months before it is all cleared.
A brace is placed firmly around my neck. An x-ray reveals I have lost an entire inch in the lumbar vertebrae, and my sacrum is slanting, stuck, right-forward. It will take physical therapy and chiropractic appointments to partially bring back what has been damaged.
- - -
It has been 6 years. I can walk, I can run, I can play sports. I lived in a wheel chair for the short time of one month, and went to physical therapy 3 times a week for 3 years. Through those years of constant doctor's appointments without much pain-relief, I struggled with discouragement. Angry about perpetual pain, frustrated that sitting and standing both produced pain, I was tired of battling selfishness in the continuous thought process of "I hurt."
For about one year, I have been more pain free than I was told possible. I was able to run a half marathon and drive for up to 10 hours! My physical body is being restored, but more than that my spirit is also. The spirit of negative disappointment has been replaced with hope and joy. The selfishness of "I hurt" has been replaced with compassion for those who are in pain - my eyes look outward. It is now a rare moment (maybe 1x a month at most) to recognize aching in my lower back. I am so grateful for Healer Jesus.
The verse below is what I drew HOPE from:
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4
This verse kept me going when I felt I could no longer stand. Let it inspire you and bring you hope.