This morning NPR’s Morning Edition ran a story about two of the victims of the horrific Boston Marathon bombings. A mother and daughter were excitedly waiting for another family member to cross the finish line when the bombs went off. The daughter sustained serious injuries to one leg. The grievously injured mother had to have both of her feet amputated. She realized how her life had changed in an instant. Although she was determined to live, she was very discouraged about what quality of life she would have, and feared losing her independence and ability to do the things she loved. Then last week a young veteran, a double amputee who lost both legs in Afghanistan, walked into her hospital room to visit her. He told her that he had been just like her, full of despair and sadness. And then, he told her that she could recover just like he did, and learn to walk again with prosthetic limbs. The mother said a “little spark” lit within her, and she realized “it’s really going to be okay. Nothing was taken away from me that I can’t get back – I can even be better than I was before.”
My heart goes out to this courageous mother and her daughter. During the eight minute story, my thoughts and emotions ran the gamut from shock to anger to sadness to compassion to amazement. The mother’s raw telling of how she went from wanting to die to her determination to not let this tragedy take anything from her left me in awe. It was when the soldier came to see her, to share his story and his journey of healing, that everything shifted for the mother. He gave her the ability to see her situation in a whole new way. He gave her a vision for her future. He gave her hope.
Often, when we encounter tough times in life, we instinctively look for someone who has gone before us and overcome similar challenges. It can be someone you have known all your life, such as a parent or friend. The person modeling the way might be a mentor or colleague. Sometimes the person who provides the spark for us might not even be aware of their impact. Those who inspire us might pass through our life in a few minutes, or be someone we only know from a book or article. At times, just one conversation can shift how we see ourselves and our situation. I salute the soldier, Dave Martinez, who took the time to visit Celeste Corcoran and her daughter Sydney and share his own story. I celebrate the courage that each person in this story has shown. And, I am grateful for those in my own life who have helped me change my attitude, see things in new ways, and live with newfound hope.
My desire is that you, too, have such people in your life, both at home and at work.
Sharon Keys Seal