So I swear it’s spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like spring out there today…instead I’m sitting in the house with my coat on drinking a hot cup of coffee in what is now referred to as my “club house.” My club house, well, is the bathroom….Yea, I know it’s ridiculous, but I have an awesome little space heater in here (from Costco of course) and when I close the curtain (door) and turn that thing on, boy does it get nice and toasty! Hence, my club house…and no, there are no boys allowed. I still need to make a sign…
I started some seedlings too to eventually plant when it actually warms up outside and they were doing super wonderful and were all happy and growing and then….Leopold happened. Crazy cat came home this weekend and went all King Kong on my babies (see exhibit A and B below). That cat is obsessed with plants-pulling them out of things and knocking them off of cupboards. Let’s just say it’s a good thing he’s cute because yesterday after seeing the aftermath of his afternoon fun I told him he was dead to me. Dwebe.
But moving on…
You know when someone asks you something and it catches you off guard? Like you know what you should say and you respond in the moment because it’s expected of you, but then you spend the next month thinking about it and what you said and how you ACTUALLY feel? Okay, maybe that’s just me who obsesses over things for that long, but that’s totally where I’ve been ever since Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin.
I think I explained how the whole competition works, but as a review, part of it consists of a private interview with the judges. Think job interview only more disability knowledge and your thoughts and feelings on it all. Most of the questions I had zero problem with, thoughts on education to the public about disabilities, things that would be important to me if chosen for the title, and a few fun questions. But there was one question that I didn’t expect.
If you could go back to the day you were injured, would you change what happened?
Would. You. Change. What. Happened.
I was so surprised by the question, I know I sat in silence for probably longer than I should have. In that moment I know I responded no, I wouldn’t change what happened, but it bothered me the rest of the day. Did I answer that way because of where I was and what I was competing for? Did I actually feel like if I was given the chance to go back and become abled-bodied and never have to deal with all the challenges and frustrations of having an SCI, I wouldn’t do it? Do you see what I’m saying? How do you work through something like that…
I mean, let’s take a look at the life I could “potentially” be living had none of this ever happened. I could be off in Minnesota, living in my own apartment for the first time ever (I was a CA in college so I’ve always lived in the residence halls) with my brand new husband. I could be just about to finish my first year of veterinary school, following my dream of becoming a large animal veterinarian and having way to much fun visiting with the little lambs on campus. I could be driving myself around town, never thinking twice about where the closest curb cutout is.
But all of those things could also have turned out way different than I’d previously envisioned (as I’ve slowly been learning).
So instead, let’s look at the life I’m currently living. I have some of the greatest friends on the planet now, some I’ve met because of my injury and some that knew me before but have truly accepted me as Sam:Version 4.5 feet tall with wheels. I’ve been able to take time to just. slow. down. I always lived a very fast-paced life, and I guess I kind of still do compared to what’s “normal” but I savor life more. I mean, I still do the same things, but most of them take me more time (except running around grabbing groceries for Mom. I’m pretty speedy in Costco….there’s just much space to move!) I’m now pursuing a career with a passion that I’ve never had before. Is it scary and intimidating? Oh yea, for sure. But it’s exciting too….
But the life I’m currently living isn’t just all those good things, it’s a lot of hard things too. Often times I need help just to get in someones house because very few homes are level entry. It’s not hard, but it’s kind of an inconvenience. Sometimes it’s hard to not feel like I’m diseased or hideous when people move away or “shield” there kids from me in stores. I know they’re probably just trying to make sure they stay out of the way, but when we’re at least 10 feet apart, it stings a bit. I mean seriously, I’m not gonna run over a kid. It’s hard not having the independence associated with driving yourself places. Granted, I’ve got a pretty good chauffeur that hasn’t decided to quit her job despite the fact I appear to tip her with sass, but it kinda stinks that I can’t just go somewhere and leave when I want to without having to call someone (I told my sisters that would be one of the many reasons I’m not interested in dating right now, can you imagine? Get all done with a date, guy goes to leave, Guy: Uh, why are you just sitting there? Me: Oh, I’m waiting for my Mom to drive me home….hot right?)
But then again, look at all I’ve learned. I’ve learned more things about life and have experienced more things at age 22 than most 40 year olds. I’ve learned some lessons about what’s truly important in life and what’s worth spending your time fretting over. I’ve learned some lessons about the type of man I want to date and hopefully eventually marry. I’ve learned some lessons about getting through hard times and what it means to actually trust God instead of just saying you do. And look at the impact I’ve been able to have on other people’s life. I don’t know why, but it’s a heck of a lot more sitting down then it ever was standing up.
So I’ve come to my conclusion. No, I really wouldn’t go back and change what happened. Even when I biff it off the bed during a transfer and Lindsey has to come help me in my “beached whale pose” get my butt back where it belongs. Even when someone makes a stupid-I-want-to-smack-them-upside-the-head remark about my supposed “lack of ability” as someone with a disability. Even when we go to Costco again (I should say especially when) and I can spend the rest of the week making cracks about it like this one my cousin brought to my attention….
Is it easy? No, but neither is life.
Am I doing all of the things I’ve dreamed of since high school and even before? No, not at all.
But dreams change, just like life does.
And THIS is the life I’m proud to be living.