Yesterday marks three months since my husband was hit by a car. I don’t really subscribe to the notion that everything happens for a reason. But I definitely believe that there is a lesson to be learned in every situation. The lesson I’ve drawn from all of this can be summarized in one word: Perspective.

Before this happened I would see someone in a wheelchair and feel a temporary pang of sympathy for that person and their caretaker. I would watch them struggle through a task that required more effort than it should. But soon after, my own priorities and trivial problems were quickly back in the forefront. It’s like when you watch a sad movie. You are invested in the characters and might even feel like crying but when the lights come on and it’s time to go home, it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I now know the struggles first hand of having a loved one in a wheelchair. I have felt the rage of seeing a shopping cart sitting in the middle of a handicap parking spot. I have seen entrances to public places that have a million stairs and absolutely no feasible way for a person in a wheelchair to enter. I’ve seen front doors to hospitals that have handicap buttons for automatic doors that don’t work. I have seen people stare at my husband in a way that is not sympathetic but more like he is a specimen that needs further examination, but the minute I meet their gaze they dart their eyes in the other direction. I don’t doubt that I have been one of those staring people in the past. But I could never be that person again. Perspective, my friend. I wish we didn’t have to endure this experience in order for me to gain this wisdom but I feel grateful that I have it to take with me from here on out.

I have also seen some of the most beautiful displays of humility. Dudes in bars have rushed to open the door for Steven so he can roll into the men’s room. Restaurant hostesses have gone out of their way to make sure we have a table where he has room to keep his leg propped. A mom has come up to us with her 2-year-old and asked if he could touch Steven’s wheel chair because the little tike is obsessed with wheels! Of course he can! For the most part, people have been kind, considerate, and empathetic and it has restored my faith in humanity.

My piece of advice for anyone who is going through a traumatic time is when someone offers to help, let them. Let your friends bring over dinner some night so you don’t have to cook. Let his mom take him to surgery so you don’t have to burn another vacation day. Let his guy friends come over to keep him company while you go to the beach to read for a few hours. It’s not selfish to look after yourself as well as the person you are now responsible for. You might feel guilty doing things for you but you will come to find it’s completely okay and actually extremely necessary.

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