Sunday, July 4, 2010


Happy Independence Day! I wasn't thinking the other day when I made a post about fireworks. Duh ... 4th of July is in a few days and that's the perfect photo for the post I'm doing. Oh, well, here's another. Next time I'm definitely using a tripod.

So on 4th of July we celebrate the independence of America. We party and shoot off fireworks. It's tradition. It's for our nation's freedom. And there are a lot of nations out there without the same freedoms as ours. Where you can't gather to protest. Where you can't say what's on your mind. Where you're not safe. Where your life is at the mercy of a lunatic. Because of where you live. I think we all know this.

But there's also our personal independence that we should celebrate and be grateful for. Do we ever really think about that? What it would be like to be dependent? From a few months after we are born, we begin asserting our independence. Then by the time we are mobile, we're ready to go. Be free of the binds that tie us down, playpens, cribs, etc... As we get older we want to go off by ourselves, ride our bikes across town, go out with our friends alone, make our own decisions.

After spending your childhood gaining your independence and then reveling in it as an adult, what would happen if suddenly you lost it? What would you do if one day you were dependent on someone for everything? What would you do if you couldn't do what you want when you want? Like, go upstairs and get yourself a beer. Or, worse than that, get up and go to the bathroom. As much as we don't want this, I think we all know that this may happen when we are old. Like 90 old. And some of us spend our youth trying to make sure this won't happen.

But what if it happens to you when you're 43? When you're in the prime of your life? Shawn and I can speak to this from experience. On January 23 he became 100% dependent on me or at least someone for everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

It's only in looking back that I can realize how bad it was. At the time I was just going and doing and functioning without thinking. Thinking might have brought me down. I can't imagine what was going through Shawn's mind. He couldn't move. He was paralyzed. His first step of independence came when he was able to feed himself with the help of some tools to go on his utensils. That was within a week.

By the time he came home in March he still was VERY dependent on me. While he could get himself sitting in bed, he needed my help to be propped up. He needed my help to get in and out of the wheelchair. He needed my help to get dressed. He needed my help to go to the bathroom and take a shower. And so much of what I did or wanted to do was dependent on him. What time I could go to bed was a big one.

But as time has passed Shawn in regaining his strength also regained his mobility and thus his independence. Funny how our mobility and our independence are so intimately tied together.
Nearly 6 months later the only thing Shawn is dependent on me is bringing him stuff. We call it the "List of Demands." Soon he will be able to make it upstairs easily and get himself a snack or beer. Soon he will be walking again. Soon he will be driving again. Soon he will be lugging again.

So this Independence Day, take a moment and honor your personal freedoms, like being able to go to the bathroom by yourself. I know I am.

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