Approaching an anniversary of any tragedy can take its toll on us.  We can find ourselves repeating some of the stages of grief we felt initially, as we’re hit by huge waves of emotions, similar to what we experienced initially: grief, heartache, pain, questioning, etc.  One of the stages we should always welcome is that of reflection.  (i.e. Reflection: careful thought, especially the process of reconsidering previous actions, events or decisions.)

For me, reflection has been a critical part of the healing and personal growth process when I think about my friends’ tragic accident – now 15 years ago.

October 26, 2001, was a sunny, crisp fall morning and as I walked Laurie out to her van, we talked about the difficult year she’d been through. I hugged her and said, “I love you and am so proud of you!”.  “I love you back!” she said as she drove off.

About twenty minutes later, I heard the constant whirring of a helicopter.  After noticing it was Life Flight, I decided to walk down to the scene of the accident.  Upon arrival, shock waves hit instantly; I couldn’t breathe, my throat tightened and tears flowed as I saw Laurie’s van had been T-boned by a large truck. (No fault of the truck driver.)

I ask the policeman, “Where is she – the lady in the van?”  He indicated she was in the helicopter.

The rest of the story is that she wasn’t okay. Laurie’s brain damage was terribly severe -she would never be the same.

For weeks after the accident, I’d spent much of my time at the hospital trying to help Laurie wake up and praying for a miracle. One morning when my alarm went off, I was so exhausted I just laid there thinking about all the things I had to do…have to get up, get my kids up, make breakfast, pack lunches, drive them to school…then begin all my have to’s for work.

I wanted to pull the covers over my head and not have to do anything.

Then something life-changing happened: I pictured Laurie lying in her hospital bed – unable to do one thing for herself or those she adored. If she could get up and do everything on my list (your list ~ any list), she would have done it with sheer joy and gratitude.

My perspective transformed!  I began thanking God for the abilities to perform the simple everyday miracles I’d just been complaining about and purposed to never say, “I have to” or I’ve got to again, instead “I Get To!”®.

Aren’t we blessed to have the power to choose how we look at everything in life?

Enjoy all you get to do today, my friend!