Thanking – – – differently

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the food and the scents and the time spent with family. I love how it’s the first “real” break from school and I love what Thanksgiving encourages all of us to think about. This past week I’ve read countless blogs and facebook posts about how thankful different individuals are for all they have been blessed with and I’m sure you’ve seen them too. I’ve loved reading them and I think it’s fantastic to pause in this busy life we live and look around and just say those two precious words. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s the new life I’m living, but sometimes saying thank you can be really hard. Let me try to explain…

I began the week writing a letter, a letter I never expected to have to, or more importantly, want to write. When I was first injured I underwent a 10 hour surgery to stabilize my spine. The surgeon who performed the surgery said that it looked like someone had gone into my back and smashed my vertebrae with a hammer, pulverizing the snot out of the bones. A good portion of the surgery was spent putting all of those busted pieces of my vertebrae back together. That was done using bone from a donor. The letter I wrote was to the family of my gracious donor. Where does one even start in a thank you note like that one. I mean, here I am, able to live and enjoy my life thanks to the gift someone gave to me while that family faces the struggles of dealing with the loss of a loved one every single day. It’s really humbling to have received a gift like that, one I never thought I would need, but now I know I probably wouldn’t have been able to live without. I’m an organ/tissue donor myself (you can be too by signing up here) but I never expected to be an organ/tissue recipient. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to say thank you, but it was hard to say, harder to say than I could have ever imagined.


Mom and Dad didn’t get the “this is our crazy picture” memo…well, maybe Dad did…

So, my family and I went out and celebrated my “life anniversary” on Monday, that was pretty special to say the least. How did we celebrate? By eating steak. Yea, is there a better reason to eat steak? Cause I kinda think not…

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving, mine was really great but very different. But as I’ve said before, different isn’t always bad, it’s simply different. For starters, it snowed. I honestly can’t remember the last time we had snow on Thanksgiving Day and snow is quite the experience while in a wheelchair, especially on the day you’re planning on participating in the 5 mile Turkey Trot with your family. I knew as soon as I got out of the van I was in for a challenge and two blocks later with wet and frozen fingers I just wanted to cry, heck, I did. Imagine walking through snow without socks or shoes, it’s painful and you just want to stop. I had trained for the past 2 months for those 5 miles and I knew I could go the distance, but thanks to some stupid precipitation, I didn’t even want to touch my wheels.

But I had woke up at 5:30 to “trot,” not to mention my whole family, our dogs, and even some family friends were going to trot as well. I ran the trot last year and I didn’t think being in a wheelchair was a good enough excuse. So, after some hugs from the older sis and some convincing that we’ll just kick butt in the 5 mile next year, I did the 2 mile dog jog instead. It wasn’t what I had planned and it certainly wasn’t what I expected, but nothing in life ever is. I’d be lying to say I wasn’t disappointed, because I was, but you can only control so much. I mean, it shouldn’t even be a big deal. Who cares, I didn’t do 5 miles, I did 2. But it’s something that had to change because I’m different now, I’m different from the person who ran 5 miles last year. But you know, it was a lot of fun walking with the family and doggies and I’m thankful I still got to “trot.” But really, I had a great Thanksgiving, some awesome food and wonderful time with family. Didn’t do any of the crazy black Friday shopping, even though I do get the best parking spots if I want them. Although we did hit up a deal at a local restaurant and had some pretty entertaining conversations there. I made some comment about how I swore I was more witty now than before and Dad decided to remark, “well yea, you spend all day sitting there thinking of things to say.” Ha! Yea Dad, sitting is certainly one of my talents…

Some pretty good lookin' trotters

Some pretty good lookin’ trotters

There are so many things I have to be thankful for this year that it would take forever to document. So many things I would have never thought to even appreciate until I found myself sitting in this situation. But as I’ve tried to say, sometimes it’s hard to say thank you. It’s hard to accept everything that’s different now because of some stupid tree. It’s hard to be thankful for everything I can do when before I wouldn’t have thought twice about any of it. It’s hard to be thankful when sometimes I’m just angry I’m even here, in this situation at all. Sometimes, it’s hard to be thankful. But a lot of things are hard. And just because somethings hard to do, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Different things are hard for different people, and whatever your challenge is, make your move and face it. For me, that meant saying those thank you’s and meaning them from the bottom of my heart. Thanking that family for my donor’s gift and wishing them well. Thanking God for the new way I live my life. Thanking Him for all of the things that are different. Thanking everyone for helping and supporting me when I needed it most.

Sometimes things really are different. Our plans are different. Our lives are different.  But it’s how you chose to handle those differences that really counts.

5 thoughts on “Thanking – – – differently

  1. Jeanne LaMoore says:

    I appreciate how you share your journey – the ups and the downs. Sorry the snow messed with your Turkey Trot. I’m glad your family was there to love you forward on the two miles you covered!

  2. loriwhitman says:

    Thanks for writing Sam. The truth is, we don’t know what it is like to have our own life change so drastically. You are educating us and giving us laughs along the way. What a gift you are. I am thankful for you.

    Try not to be too disheartened that you did 2 miles instead of 5 in the turkey trot. There are many of us that can walk that didn’t do it! You did! I’m going to do it next year because of your inspiration. 😉

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