I became a handicapped person several years ago on the 2nd day of March. It began as almost any other day of the week-busy and full of expectations. It was Thursday; oh good, we were getting close to the weekend. I sat at the breakfast table that morning with my son, Ryan, talking about school and his upcoming baseball game to be played that evening. My husband, younger son and I would be attending, of course-we never missed one-even though the game was going to be played a couple of hours away.
I distinctly remember most of the morning's conversation with my son. He was the starting catcher and nervously excited about the game. As he was leaving for school, I walked him to the door and with much love and pride in my heart, I told him, "This is going to be your year, Ryan. You're going to be just great. We will see you at the game."
With that he drove away....Just another school day, just one more time to watch that old truck driving out of the driveway, time to get going with the rest of the day.
Who could have known that this day wasn't just another day? Who could have known that this day would change my life forever? Who could have known that this day, I would lose part of myself-and that I would never be the same. Who could have known that I, Rhonda Hamilton, would become handicapped that day?
So, the day went on-drizzly and cold-and the baseball game was called off because of weather. Years later, I still cringe with horror when I remember the accident that destroyed my world. It blew a hole right through the middle of me, and I lost a large part of my heart, leaving me handicapped forever. This loss of heart happened the minute I got the call that my precious son Ryan had been involved in a terrible accident. As I drove to the hospital to meet the ambulance, I was praying and thinking about the words that I had just heard, "Rhonda, it doesn't look good." What could that mean?-"It doesn't look good?" It was unthinkable, unimaginable, and unforgivable.
Some may wonder how this devastation can happen to a person who wasn't even physically in the vehicle that was completely destroyed. But, those of us who have lost children, know that indescribable pain and loss. You see, on March the 2nd, I lost my life on this earth as I knew it. I lost my youth, I lost my joy, I lost the wonderful naivety of life. I lost my future, I lost my past, and I lost my present. I became handicapped. It is a condition that will never go away. And, though my handicap isn't recognizable physically to others, it is just as real and, perhaps more painful than losing an arm or a leg would be. There is no "closure". There is no "getting over it". There is life "before" Ryan died, and there is life "after" Ryan died.
So.... What does this mean? What gem can be harvested from this fiery trial of life? What is the direction to be taken from this crossroad in life? All is new in this uncharted territory. Finding the way is treacherous. I know I must make a choice. That's what those who have had a life-changing accident do-they choose. Some decide that life is over for them, and they become bitter, unhappy, and non-productive. Others determine to rehabilitate themselves-to find contentment, peace and productivity. No, they are never the same-the part of them that is crushed or gone, will never be as it was again. But, they choose to heal all that they can, and then to go on and do remarkable things in this life.
And so I choose. Because God is so good and He has blessed me so, the world must see my trust in Him. Because my son's life must be remembered-not his death, his goodness and love must continue through me. The world must see that he did not "ruin" my life by his death, but that my life is better because he lived. Yes, I am a rehabilitated person-not the exact person that I was before the accident. That person is gone forever. But, as one who has been rehabilitated, I am a new person. Do I still struggle? Certainly! Is it still hard? Of course-ask any handicapped person and they will tell you that they face challenges more times than not. But, there are new strengths; there are new depths to understanding; there's a deeper appreciation for that tremendous sacrifice on the cross; there are new opportunities; there are new tomorrows. And so I choose.
I choose to find the peace that comes only from God, to find joy in my blessings, to find contentment in my promise of eternal life. I choose to be productive and hopefully, to make a difference, however small, in someone's world.
I am filled overflowing with such thankfulness and truly rejoice for the great gifts that I have received through this terrible loss. Though I would never, ever want this that has happened, I have to say that my life is bigger because of my increased perspective on life, because of my tremendous gratitude and appreciation for the everyday miracles that are all around us.
What greater testimony can I give, than to demonstrate my faith and trust in my glorious Heavenly Father who blesses my life so abundantly? What greater tribute can I give to my son, than to be a joyful, productive, triumphant, rehabilitated handicapped person?
Rhonda Hamilton is a professional life success speaker and communications skills expert who champions others to live a bigger and better life. She specializes in bigger life principles, business building skills and interpersonal communication skills. She offers motivational keynotes and training for business professionals, associations and organizations, who want to leverage their strengths, improve morale, build relationships, improve communication skills, excel in customer service, and ultimately, raise their level of profitability. Rhonda is committed to helping others build a better self and thereby, build a bigger life and a better world. Rhonda is a published author and a member of the National Speakers Association. She can be reached through her website, http://www.RhondaHamilton.com.