I am retired from the US Army so I know Memorial Day was established to honor veterans of the US Armed Forces. With that said, though, this year I have done what most of the rest of the country had done and applied my own twist to celebrating Memorial Day. Mine is not as commercialized as most and actually involves memorializing people I have known, some Veterans and some not.
Bonnie and I visited many of the cemeteries where members of each of our families are buried. We traveled with her parents to some and went by ourselves to others. We listened as her Dad told us stories about his memories of times spent with those whose graves we visited. Some of the stories were of good times and positive experiences while others were of tough times and hard work.
We spent some time with a close childhood friend who has many family members in a cemetery where I also have two brothers. We reminisced over the fun we had growing up and some of the not so smart things we did. We mourned the loss of people who were with us through all of those good times.
I stopped by the home of my older brother, Mike whom I probably hadn’t seen for close to forty years. We talked about the loss of our brothers, mother and father and about losses caused by time, bad decisions and misunderstandings. The decisions and misunderstandings, sadly, contributed to our not staying in contact.
Another loss reflected on is my own due to my accident but I look at that from a few different perspectives. Yes, I lost some functionality and handle things differently now but I’m happy with where I am. The changes caused by my tbi have more impact on those close to me and you can read about them in my post “The Other Victims”. My injury caused me to look at things in a different light. I try to be more concerned with things that really matter now. When you almost lose it all, you realize there are a lot of thing in your life that are not all that important. I have to be honest, it sounds a lot easier than it really is.
I now wonder how to best use this second chance that I have been given. Since I am not lying beneath one of those stones we visited, how can I share the life that has been given back to me? There is a scripture that keeps coming to mind:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)
I used to think the only way I could live this scripture was to help those who had an injury or condition just like mine. I guess I selectively ignored the part that says “those who are in any trouble”. As I talked with family and friends this weekend, it dawned on me that maybe I could help and encourage people with troubles that are not related to mine at all. Tbi does tend to make you a little slow on the uptake sometimes. I wonder how many opportunities I have missed to encourage people with problems because they weren’t in a wheelchair or brain injury rehab. I must be more conscious of people’s tribulations and less concerned about why they have them. Their issues don’t have to fit neatly into my tbi box for me to care about them. I just need to be available and willing to help whoever God puts in front of me in any way possible.