|11-25-2006, 12:53 AM||#1|
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Hood River, OR USA
Every year we get together with the same five families at Thanksgiving. Each November we unite, taking turns hosting the event. We remark on the changes in our children and observe the new wrinkles and the graying or loss of each other’s hair.
Early on, for reasons long forgotten, I became the guy who says the blessing. No matter whose house, come hell or high water, nobody eats until John says a prayer. Depending on your point of view, I am either the gateway to bounty or the final impediment to chowing down.
I always think I will plan ahead but seldom do. Most often I wing it with appropriate but undistinguished platitudes. These seem to flow from my mouth like sauce from a gravy boat. For years I had a divine confidence in the unfolding universe.
Lately, however, since my son became SCI, I tend to fret about the prayer. At my advanced age, I seem to have lost my spiritual mojo. The whole concept of God is in doubt.
Most of you know the story: Following Thanksgiving in 2002, he was in a freak accident on his way back to University. Due to someone else’s carelessness, he became paralyzed. That was the last Thanksgiving when he would stand unaided alongside the other children in our hybrid clan.
The next year, he was doing rehabilitation out-of-state with my wife. I chose not to partake in our customary get together. I was shaky and the idea of being the center of attention made me uncomfortable. So, I deferred and enjoyed a quiet evening alone with my cat.
Subsequent Thanksgivings find me back in the familiar company of my friends. Secretly though, I long to be alone. I continue with the motions of saying our yearly blessing, but I find the words to be thankful to God getting stuck in my throat. I attempt euphemistic alternatives but deep down know I am faking it.
In addition to my religious doubt there is a dis-connect with my AB friends. Something got lost in the translation between “before” and “after.”
Simple questions such as, “How is Noah?” lead us down complicated paths if answered in depth. Worse are the simplifications that seem rudely dismissive. Anymore, SCI is the big pumpkin on the table and it gets in the way of the conviviality of the pre-injury days.
As wonderful and open-minded as my friends are, they are no better at adjusting to the reality of SCI than society at large. For example, their homes are more or less inaccessible to wheelchairs. And they cannot, nor should they, fully comprehend what all of us here on CC understand: SCI is endlessly problematic. Try as we might, it isolates us.
Last evening, after much conversation and just when our senses brimmed to overflow from ogling and smelling the pending feast, all eyes once again turned my way. I managed to cough up a bland and forgettable homily. I gave thanks for our families and friendships and hoped our meal would strengthen us to serve the greater good. I carefully avoided God and probably will into an indefinite future.
We overate, played board games before dessert, laughed at each other, and then ate some more. Afterwards, upon arriving home, I ritually logged onto CC for my nightcap. I admit to being addicted. But here, amidst the Pollyannas of Hope and the Grinchy pessimists, I am at home. I appreciate our bad behavior along with the good. For this community I am genuinely and unashamedly thankful.
Today I worked a half-day then went to the Red Cross Blood Drive and donated a pint. So, that big meal did end up being useful for others after all. My little metaphysical troubles have rested. I am content. And, I am thankful for that too.
"Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence." Lin Yutang
Last edited by john smith; 11-25-2006 at 12:54 PM.
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