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IN YOUR PURSUIT FOR HAPPINESS, DON'T FORGET TO SEE THE ROSES

Life is REALLY hard for me. That is a given with all my health issues and struggles since I was born. One would think that I have gone hard from all the smacks to my ego that the latest struggle has brought.

After I had just graduated, one of my newer friends and I were out on the small town where I grew up, soaking in the quiet of 3AM as we munched on sandwiches and sipped from juice boxes. One of those fond memories you look back on and just enjoy existing.


As we prepared to say goodbye until next week he asked me about my surgeries.

Everyone knew what was the latest in my life of pain and struggle. My parents worked in the schools and would pass on everything that was happening in my life. Adults I didn’t know would come up to me and ask how my legs were feeling and if I was healed from my waist down reconstruction surgery.

It started out awkward knowing that a vast amount of people were so invested in my life but as my pain got worse I tried to find comradery with them as I passed on what my latest lessons were in life-things that never could be taught except by the adept hand of experience.


That first day of my sophomore year when I got to class in my wheelchair when the year before I had been walking caused more suspense than I was use to. People didn’t know how to react and with a laugh I would always answer their questions. I came to find that people were so much kinder to a little girl in a big wheelchair. I needed their kindness more than they realized. Strangers happily taking time from their day to wheel me to my next class, joking about what happened to me over the summer that I was so obviously scarred from.


I took pride in my scars(and still do) because I happily and very painfully earned each one.


“Do you cry a lot?” He asked me. I make it a point to never lie and of course replied with a lump in my throat: “yes”.


“I think,” said he, “it would be healing to be able to sob for a long period of time and cry out all my sorrows and pain.”


Oh, if only he knew, I thought, saying, “Trust me, you should never wish for that.” As I thought back to all my nights sobbing in pain. Yes healing came after but only after something terrible caused an event that would leave a big scar.


During my year of surgeries, one teacher in particular I thought would be the hardest one to handle but surprisingly she was the kindest and even sent me get-well cards when my right leg surgery didn’t go even slightly as well as the left.


“This year you learned something I couldn’t teach as your surgeries taught you to relax.” Her card read.

I was offended at first because I worked so very very hard to finish and turn in all the work my teachers gave me to makeup. Some even giving me more than my actually friends had to do. I was so angry and struggling to handle so much pain and a whole new horrible view of life. Trying to keep my head above water with pain medications that muddled my brilliant brain and yet without them the pain from my legs being broken in 8 places and twisted to be straight was more than anyone should have to get a grip on-let alone a barely 15year old.


By the end of that year I realized what my teacher meant.


Life twists and turns in ways we can never expect and so we must learn to find some semblance of sanity in between the lines of happiness and struggle.


I may have worked harder than ever before not just wheeling my wheelchair all over a large school but also academically I pushed myself like never before. A’s were easy to get and I never had so many papers to juggle as when I could barely remember the day before.


Looking back it is totally incredible to me that I succeeded at all let alone so well to be 4th in the class.

Alas, because of all that horrible stress I also had to learn to enjoy the good all the more. Knowing the homework to come I actually got to appreciate the weekends when before they were just another day in a bland week.


That year I was stretched more than ever before in all the ways possible. I met a lot of new people, learned to actually handle an insane amount of pain, physical therapy, and new gadgets only elderly people would usually use.


I lived two lives. Two VERY different lives.


The one my family saw where I would cry each morning and night into my pillow as ice covered my swollen and scarred legs, and the one my friends and peers saw of a smiling curly blonde-haired girl who wheeled her wheelchair with an expert spin searching for as many reasons to laugh as she could.

Even almost ten years later I look back and think upon my lessons learned.


The biggest one quietly whispers “In your pursuit for happiness, don’t forget to smell the roses.”