Thursday, February 16, 2012

Am I thankful enough for what I’ve been given?

An article caught my attention yesterday…and it really hasn’t left my mind since.

The article was about Christina Symanski, a 31-year-old artist who suffered paralysis when she dove into a shallow pool, breaking her neck. The article continued to detail her six-year struggle with being a quadriplegic and her decision to end her life by starving herself and refusing medication and care. It was her right…and one she had decided with her family and psychologist.

I must admit I was horrified that someone could end his or her life like that. What about everyone in her life? Her family and friends who loved her? But then I read on.

At the time of her accident, she was 24 years old. She was an elementary school art teacher. She’d just moved out on her own and had met the love of her life. In her blog, she said it was the happiest year of her life. But then in the early hours one June morning in 2005, after an impromptu party at her aunt and uncle’s, she decided to go swimming and dove in head first, shattering one of her vertebrae.

She endured a whirlwind three surgeries and weeks in the ICU. She was left in a nursing home at 24. Her dad and stepmom refused to let her boyfriend see her for weeks after the accident, partly blaming him for what happened. They guilted her about drinking that night, about diving into a shallow pool and about ruining her life.

After six months of trying to stay together through the ordeal, she pushed her boyfriend away, wanting a better life for him. But she never got over him…her blog clearly states that. And he never got over her. But both of them knew they could never be together…they could never have the life they had both planned before having it ripped violently away.

In her blog, she wrote about how she was always a very private person. Being quadriplegic destroyed that. She had to rely on complete strangers to dress her, feed her, wipe her nose, take her to the bathroom, bathe her and carry her. She couldn’t do anything on her own…something she had started becoming so accustomed to. She was always in pain. She couldn’t sleep, would develop bedsores and suffered from IBM – a condition made worse by her paralysis.

Can you imagine having an itch and not being able to use your hands to scratch it? Can you imagine getting your hair in your face while you’re laying down trying to sleep and not being able to use a simple wave of your fingers to brush it away? Can you imagine looking down at a body you know is your own…but not be able to feel it? Can you imagine watching it change slowly over six years…until you didn’t recognize it anymore?

It’s a purely heart-wrenching story. In her blogs, she constantly questions her decision to dive headfirst into that pool. She doesn’t know why she did it. She was always wondering… “what if?” Where would she be, had she not dove into that pool and broken her neck? Would she be married to that boyfriend? Would she have children? Would she be a veteran teacher? Who knows.

I can never imagine what she went through. But her blog was so detailed, so full of emotion that I can firmly say I never want to know. And if I was in her shoes…going through exactly what she went through…I have no idea how I would deal with it. In my mind, she was strong and courageous…and completely selfless. She didn’t choose to die to simply relieve herself from the pain, from the prison her own body had become. She did it to free her loved ones. I can’t say I personally agree with her decision because of my own convictions…but then again, I am not in her shoes. So I just don’t know.

I read this today…and I thought it was rather fitting. "To a watching world, the way we die and handle death as believers is as an important witness as the way we live." I think, from what she wrote, that Christina believed in a good and kind God - one who wouldn't condemn her for wanting peace, for wanting to just rest with Him. I don't know…that's just my thought.

But it got me thinking. Am I thankful enough for what I have? Do I take anything for granted? Like walking, running, dancing, playing piano, writing. Of course I take those things for granted. They’re every day things. I’ve been walking since before I can remember. What if it was violently taken away from me? What if today was the last day I ever took a step…walked on my own two feet? So tonight, when I’m running, I’m going to be thankful. When I walk down the aisle in August, I’m going to be thankful.

Every single decision we make affects us somehow…some more than others. Some decisions we make, we’ll never see repercussions of. They’ll disappear and we’ll never think of them again. But others…they’ll stay. But it’s no good worrying and fretting. We must live life every day as if tomorrow might not come…as if tomorrow might be something entirely different and life changing.

So run around, dance, try new things, do what you never dreamed possible. Live life to the fullest. Love deeply, laugh easily. Make peace with someone you begrudge, be kind to a stranger, make a new friend, cherish those you have around you right now.

I hope Christina Symanski is finally resting in peace. I hope she’s walking arm-in-arm with Jesus, her body restored to perfection. I hope her loved ones feel her love and strength coming down on them, helping them get through this horrible time until they see her again someday, walking to meet them. And I hope all of you out there enjoy each and every minute you are given. Life, as cliché as this may be, is precious.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bridesmaid Dresses!

This is proving to be kind of difficult.

First off…I’m trying to keep the cost of the dress low. I love all the girls who have graciously agreed to be a part of my special day! I’m not going to make them go broke just for one day!

I’ve searched at Bridal Traditions and David’s Bridal in Omaha. Bridal Traditions was too expensive…even though they had a huge selection. David’s Bridal was still a bit expensive…but had the smallest selection ever! Very disappointed.

Also, my next problem has been matching the blue I want. It’s a Tiffany blue color. David’s Bridal had colors called “pool” and “Malibu.” Pool was too light, Malibu was a bit too dark. I couldn’t bring myself to being OK with that. I think there are other options to find my color!

So I posed a question on Facebook, asking for advice on where to look for dresses. I received several great answers…but none as good as a woman in Papillion who makes dresses. So I called her up and, to my surprise, found out it’d be cheaper to have them custom made…than by ordering them through a store.

So tonight and Saturday, I’m going with a few bridesmaids and my mom to look at some patterns to email the lady so she can send a quote. I’m also hoping that by going this way, we can more closely match the Tiffany blue I want!

My next issue is the groomsmen’s vests for their tuxes. I want those to be blue but they need to match the bridesmaid’s colors! So do we have those custom made, also? Such decisions! Kevin and I just might look at those swatches first at a tux place and see if there’s one I like and base it off that.

I just hope this works out! I have this vision in my head of how I want this to look! Bridesmaids with short Tiffany blue bridesmaid dresses with red high heels, red jewelry and red flowers in their hair…and groomsmen with black tuxes, blue vests, blue ties and red boutonnieres. Sounds like a weird combination, but I’ve seen photos and it look fantastic together.


My mom told me the other day, “patience grasshopper. It’ll all work out and it will be beautiful!”

I know it will…I do! But until I see it, I don’t think I’ll really quit fretting about it to myself…and my mom. Thank goodness for her patience with me. I aspire to be as kind and patient as her.

So…here’s to a little bit of luck tonight!