Blessing or Tragedy?

What’s the difference between the two? They say every cloud has a silver lining. Are we able to find those bits of silver when things go horribly wrong? Can we step back and look at whatever the situation may be with a positive eye, searching for the blessing?

Four years ago on December 29, 2018, our son had a horrific car accident. In a coma for 2 weeks with a traumatic brain injury, the doctors didn’t know if he would survive, be a vegetable, or even wake up.

Half of his skull had to be removed that night, to release the pressure on his brain from a telephone pole that sliced through the SUV, as it catapulted out of a ditch upside down, after he hit black ice.

Many events and a few years of unhealthy and unwise choices, all led up to that moment. Yes, marijuana was involved. I will never, ever be on board with marijuana becoming legal. It’s not a lot different than drinking and driving. An individual is no less impaired being high, as being intoxicated with alcohol. You’re an accident just waiting to happen. Add black ice and sleet to the mix and see what happens.

Dawson was in the hospital for two months, then at a neuro rehab in Illinois for another month. He has some issues to this day with the frontal lobe brain injury he sustained in the wreck. It nearly cost him his life, but it also saved his life.

People are surprised sometimes when I say that if Dawson hadn’t had that accident, he would surely be dead from following a path of drug use and other unhealthy behaviors and choices.

My book, ‘The Dandelion Picker’, explains the story in detail, the events that led to the car accident, all the time in the hospital and what happened when we finally brought him home.

Dawson is doing very well these days, working part time and working out a gym daily. He wants very much to continue to heal. There are still emotional issues that haven’t healed, regrets and frustrations.

As his mother, I’ve had tremendous feelings of guilt and shame. What did I do wrong to cause him to make the choices he did and end up where he was? It’s taken a long time to forgive myself for mistakes I made in raising both my kids. None of us are perfect, but I’d like to think that we all try our best with our children.

We raised our children in church, Sunday school, scouts and 4-H. We always encouraged them to come to us if they had a problem.

But, as my husband reminds me frequently, no one can force anyone to do anything. We each make our own choices and decisions.

I had to remind myself that people are going to do exactly what they are going to do. We all feel invincible when we’re young. ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ as the saying goes. I didn’t understand that when I was a young adult. I sure do now!

Time does have a way of healing tragedy. We change from who we were, to who we are. And we will continue to change until our journey here on earth ends.

Letting go of the past and moving on can be very difficult.’ Coulda, shoulda, woulda’, as they say. Remembering that we cannot change the past is a hard fact to accept. Ruminating on our mistakes, beating ourselves up about it, continuing feelings of guilt and shame cannot of course, change the past. Those thoughts only cloud our futures and pull us away from healthy opportunities and happiness. Those feelings, cause us to become quite selfish, wrapping ourselves up in the days gone by.

We are all a work in progress. We have to take responsibility for our actions, yes. But the hope is that we have learned from our past mistakes and do better as we move forward.

I have often said that Dawson’s accident was the best thing that could have happened to him. If it hadn’t, I believe 100% he would be dead from continuing on the path he was on.

After I wrote ‘The Dandelion Picker’, with Dawson’s permission to expose all the ugly parts, I was afraid of what people might think or say to me about it. Would they say Dawson was a bad kid? Would I be called a lousy mother? It was hard to remember to not care what anyone would say. The book was meant to help anyone in a similar situation to know they are not alone. We have all made bad choices at one time or another. We can all learn and help each other, which is what we’re supposed to do.

The silver lining and blessings of Dawson’s accident and past behaviors are that he has improved, changed his direction and is moving forward at his own pace. So a tragedy that was overwhelming at the time, has turned out to be blessing of change.

I encourage you to look for those bits of sunshine in a dark time. If you can’t find it, ask those around you to help you find it. Lift one another up instead of judging and scorning. None of us are perfect.

Pay it forward in 2023. Think before you speak, make it matter in a good way, because we ALL matter.

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