Where I End

Katherine Clark was visiting her son’s school, playing tag with some children on the playground. One boy climbed up on the jungle gym and jumped off onto Kate’s head. They both fell to the ground. The boy’s arm was fractured, but Kate’s neck was broken, and she was instantly paralyzed from the neck down.

Kate tells her story in Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope. She writes, “Strictly speaking, this is not an autobiography, nor is it a piece of journalism about a particular event. Rather, it is a series of reflections—broadly but not strictly chronological—in the wake of an event that has shaped my story as well as the stories of those who love me” (p. 10).

I appreciate that she says her story does not have a fairly-tale ending and she’s not a fairy-tale heroine. “It’s a tale penned in grief and sorrow. But is also a story abounding in hope, beauty, and the miraculous. It is at times humiliating” (p. 13).

Kate intersperses the details of what happened to her on that fateful day and the aftermath of surgery and physical therapy with reflections of the effects of her injury on her children, the inevitable “why” question, coming to terms with the label “quadriplegic,” wrestling with God’s will and His mysteries, and so on.

Her doctors had said she would never walk again. But as her healing surpassed what was expected, she felt almost guilty that she was progressing while so many others she had met in the hospital were not. When someone urges her to tell her story in a small group, often the next person will say something like, “Well, I don’t have anything to follow that,” as if testimonies were a contest. Kate writes, “I hate when the story severs discussion. I hate when the story culminates in a comparison of cross bearing, and as a result, a chasm between us” (p. 198). Kate didn’t want to draw attention to herself, yet her injury and partial recovery were part of her story, her life now. Her history was divided between before and after the accident. As one friend told Kate’s husband, “The only faithful response to living this story is to tell it’ (p. 9).

When one suffers an injury such as Kate’s, the big question is whether the patient will walk again. If that milestone is reached, the patient is thought to be healed. But the patient can still experience life-altering symptoms. In one chapter, Kate details the symptoms she still experiences and the things she still can’t do. She had been in good shape before the accident, a runner, and could no longer count on the body she was once so sure of.

It wasn’t until this chapter that I realized some parallels between my situation and Kate’s. When I had transverse myelitis, I could walk again after a few months of physical therapy and a lot of prayer. But I still have balance issues and numbness in both lower legs and my left hand. I knew exactly what she was talking about when she mentioned her hands feel like she has gloves on all the time, making fine motor skill difficult (though in my case it’s just my left hand, which is not my dominant one, thankfully).

Kate writes also of the mix of feelings she experiences: joy for the amount of healing she has recovered, yet lament for the loss. “I live in the midst of this tension—gratitude and grief—every day” (p. 212).

Though grief remains a part of us, we should not need nor should we desire to be continually affirmed in our sadness. That doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes speak of our sorrow or that we won’t continue to grieve. Some wounds we bear until heaven. It merely means that grief takes its proper place in our stories, and its role is never that of the star, nor does it play the part of the savior.

We live in the shadow, dear reader, but the darkness cannot overcome the light (p. 127).

God shined His light through His Word and His people as they came alongside to help in various ways and to share truth.

I so appreciated Kate’s testimony of God’s grace in hard circumstances.

This book fits the Medical Memoir category of the Nonfiction Reader Challenge.

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a couple of weeks since I have been able to share some interesting reads with you. Here are some standouts from my recent web reading:

The Memorial Service of Tom Craig, Our Pastor. Brad is a member of our church who has been chronicling the journey of our pastor and church every week since our pastor’s cancer diagnosis, and here he describes the events on the day of his memorial service as well as the service itself. Our church originally had a fundraiser that had been scheduled that morning weeks before, and there was much discussion about whether to postpone it since the funeral was scheduled for the same day. Thankfully they decided to go ahead with it, but that’s what the description of the run and bike rides are about. A recording of the memorial service is here.

Losing the Language. Apt analogy about getting away from church and the things of the Lord.

10 Ways to Exercise Christlike Headship, HT to Challies.

What People Who Are New to Your Church Want to Know.

To the Girls in the Pew Ahead of Me.

That Day I Wore Yoga Pants: 5 Myths About Modesty. Most posts/articles/books about modesty tend to lean either toward the woman’s responsibility to watch how she dresses so as not to cause others to stumble or the man’s responsibility to guard his eyes and heart. I thought this one was nicely balanced.

A list of things you may not have known about paralysis from a fellow TMer.

5 Things You Must Do To Protect Yourself Online.

10 Things I’ve Learned After 30+ Years and 70+ Books.

Dear Pinterest, We Need to Have a Talk About Bookshelves. Loved this fun, incredulous look at how people decorate their bookshelves with something other than the best thing: books.

I Quit Liking Things on Facebook For Two Weeks, HT to Kim, shows how what we click that we “like” affects what we see there. I’m not going to quit using the like button, but I am conscious that whatever I “like” feeds into algorithms to give me more of the same.

My friend Lou Ann sent out a survey to readers about decluttering and has posted a series about the results. My favorites are Finding Balance in Decluttering (it’s so easy to get off-balance even in good things) and Disadvantages of Decluttering (did you know there were some? There are! Or at least can be), probably because I rarely see anyone discussing those aspects. Other posts in the series are Advantages of Decluttering and Systems for Decluttering.

I think I have shared this before, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of the pilot who was originally scheduled to fly one of the planes that was highjacked on 9/11: