Recently I had the privilege of watching a very good friend share her survivor story with a group of fellow Hallmarkers, in what can only be described as a moving tribute to the power of love, faith, and perspective.
She titled her talk “Dealing with Disruption,” a topic we can all relate to. Whether at work or home, every person has had the rug pulled from under us a time or two. We know, in theory, that we are a “bounce-back” bunch. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need periodic reminders of just how resilient the human spirit can be. For me and the almost two hundred people in the audience, a reminder is exactly what my friend provided…served with a healthy dose of courage.
Many who listened to Lindsey’s talk that day had only a cursory understanding of her journey. They know her as a well-respected leader – a product development vice president whose authentic style and strategic prowess has earned her a reputation for challenging others to think more broadly, take smart risks, and invest in their teams. They also know that, a couple years ago, an accident left her with significant injuries to three of her four limbs, and a prosthetic leg.
Lindsey spun through her story flawlessly, using photos to illustrate each “chapter.”
Chapter 1: A charmed childhood. Committed husband and two vibrant children. Proud hometown “fans” who think the world of her. A love for baseball. A successful career. A strong friend base.
Chapter 2: A weekend boat trip with friends. A simple attempt to pull a floating raft to shore. Being sucked under the boat by the propeller. An in-the-moment commitment: “I will not leave my children without a mother.” Swimming out. Mangled limbs. Airlifted to the hospital. Amputation. Stabilization. Life.
Chapter 3: Months of rehabilitation. Prosthesis. Bouts of depression. Learning to walk again…and drive…and write. And learning to mother differently. Incredible support from family, friends, and colleagues.
Chapter 4: A new normal – back to work, to family vacations…to the water. On to living fully and gratefully, with a renewed appreciation for her own personal fortitude. Blessed by the gift of perspective. And clear about the role of faith in her life.
Many sat listening to the details of Lindsey’s journey for the first time, eyes brimming with tears. But I listened that day through my own lens, recalling the random Saturday I picked up my phone to see a voicemail from Lindsey. Except the voice on the other end didn’t belong to Lindsey. It belonged to her husband, who asked me to call him as soon as possible. Immediately, my heart sank. I knew it couldn’t be good news.
When I called him back, he told me what happened to her. At the time, they were unsure of her long-term prognosis. I never told Lindsey this, but I broke down in my husband’s arms that afternoon. I was afraid for the friend with whom I’d danced at my wedding only five months before. For my confidante. For my “brain-sharing” twin. For the woman who shared my odd obsession with numbers. (I made four chapters of the above story for her benefit. My story would have had three – she knows this!)
Watching Lindsey stand in front of the audience a couple weeks ago, telling her story in such triumphant terms, shook something loose in me. And it’s taken me a couple weeks to write about it with some level of clarity. In fact, this is the first time she will read what I really thought about it. Lindsey was brilliant. Clear. Evocative. Funny. Strong. Real. Engaging. And hopeful.
She took an unexpected tragedy and turned it into a victory – not only for herself, but for all whose lives have been disrupted, or inevitably will be.
Here’s the reality : Bad things happen, often without warning or logic. But we survive. And then, through the grace of God and universal law, we thrive. We get creative and, if we’re paying attention, we find new avenues to do what we were uniquely gifted to do. To give what only we can give. We realize that bumps in the road do not constitute the end of that road. As a matter of fact, when we’re open, a new, more fulfilling road may even reveal itself. I’m thankful to Lindsey for everything she’s taught me and so many others about flipping our own paradigms about what’s possible.
I love you, girl.