A few months after Tim’s spinal cord injury in 2010, some friends stopped by the house with a pie. We sat around the table and they asked how he was doing. Tim was asked that question a lot, but he stopped and thought for a moment. Then he said, “Other than the accident itself, this has been a wonderful experience.”
Today is Tim’s birthday and maybe this seems like a strange thing to be thinking about to mark the occasion, but I’ve thought about his words a lot over the past month since the coronavirus took over our lives.
Tim’s accident was horrific in every sense of the word. There was pain and fear and so many terrifying unknowns. It was by far the darkest time in our lives. But…there was light, too. Our friends and family stepped in to care for our children so I could be at the hospital with Tim. They fed us and provided love and support through messages, prayers, and so many kindnesses it would take paragraphs to list them all.
And they did this because Tim is Tim. Do you know he never complained? I’m not exaggerating. The entire time he was in the hospital, he didn’t complain once. He just worked hard to get better. The nurses, therapists, doctors, and custodians all loved him. So much so that a small parade followed him out to the car—with balloons—when it was finally time to go home.
I learned two things from the experience. The first is that the way you see the world really does change when something catastrophic happens. Whether that change is for the better or worse is entirely up to you because you get to choose what you take with you.
The second thing is that what you do to help makes a difference. Even small things. I remember getting weepy when people held doors open for me. Because when the rug is pulled out from under your life, everything is magnified.
What we’re all dealing with now is different, for sure. There are fears and unknowns, but while Tim’s accident and its aftermath were about our community coming together, this time the most helpful thing we can do is stay home. And that’s hard.
But I keep Tim’s words in mind because they remind me that no matter what happens in life, I get to choose how I think about it (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time). And maybe there are things I can do to influence what’s going on around me—in this, or any situation—so that if asked one day my family might answer, “Other than [X], this has been a wonderful experience.”
Happy birthday, Tim Taylor. We love you.