I've been trying to figure out what to say. I feel compelled to say something. And I know there is a life lesson or a thought-provoking comment hiding somewhere in the situation. And I also know there is nothing even remotely close to humorous about the event on my heart. I just can't figure out what to say. So I'll just let the thoughts flow and maybe you'll find a message. Maybe you won't.
A couple years ago my children attended a new school. It was a good school filled with a lot of good families. It wasn't a perfect school, as no educational institution is. It's reputation of being filled with "cliques" and having issues with bullies wasn't just a rumor. Although there was a lot to recommend this school, my children and I also found it difficult at times to penetrate the well-guarded walls encircling the "cliques". We also struggled with the infamous bullies, but that's another blog.
It was a new concept for us. We have always been involved. I can't think of an area I haven't volunteered for. And my kids, as I'm sure you've gathered if you've read even a few of the Roaring Mom posts, are not quiet wallflowers. This particular school year was difficult for us anyway. We were only a few months into the divorce. The kids were being shuffled between mom's house and dad's house and now they were at a new school. We truly needed to not only feel welcome, but also feel like our Catholic family was still okay, regardless of the divorce.
Fortunately, for every old-blood family who had been in this community forever and would be there generations from now and really wasn't interested in getting to know newbies, there was also a family with welcoming smiles and friendly demeanor. So we gravitated to them and tried to forget the rest.
Let me tell you about one of these families. I met the dad first. Carl Hall and I served on the same committee--the athletic committee. Yes, I know that might be a little comical--me on a sports council. But I was there for my kids and their interests, not because of any delusion that I had any athletic tendencies whatsoever. He was one of the 4 or 5 people on this large committee who constantly greeted everyone--even this non-athletic newcomer--with a smile. Next, I met his daughter. She, like her father, is quite an athlete. My daughter played on the basketball team that year. And although Sophie held several track and field records, she sorely lacked experience on a basketball court. And yet Carl's daughter accepted Sophie, encouraged her, and befriended her. And, like her father, Megan always had a welcoming smile on her face.
When I met Stacey, Carl's wife, I immediately felt at ease. She is funny and friendly and humble. She could have very easily taken the "my daughter is so much better than yours, we don't even belong on the same bleachers" approach. But she didn't.
We didn't become close friends with this family. And since my children attend a different school and church now, we almost never see the Halls. I've never told Carl or Stacey or Megan, for that matter, how much I appreciated their smiling faces. How I would be standing by myself at yet another event, feeling awkward and out of place but needing to make a go of it, and I would see their family and it would remind me that new friends were out there.
This beautiful family, who made us feel welcome when we were dealing with difficult life transitions, is now in the middle of it's own crisis. Recently, while on the way to a baseball tournament, the family was in a car accident. While Stacey and Megan and the other 3 children escaped injury, Carl is now hospitalized--paralyzed. In a matter of seconds, the Hall family's life changed drastically, devastatingly, unbelievably, permanently.
I understand that it is natural for us to find perspective in another person's tragedy. Hearing about the Hall family immediately makes us want to hug our children more, appreciate our families more, work harder, laugh louder, love stronger. However, I can't help but to feel a little pathetic using someone else's hardship as a reason to count my blessings. Shouldn't we be able to count our blessings without Carl Hall having to become paralyzed?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post--I really don't know what to say. Maybe this blog is wasted words. Maybe I've just become one of those gossiping biddies who share bad news because they like the attention. God, I hope not. Maybe the message is that when you share a smile, you might just be touching someone's heart more than you know. Maybe the message is to enjoy every mile of this journey, because you just don't know what's around the corner. Maybe the message really is to count your blessings. I honestly don't know.
If nothing else, my message is to ask you to pray. Because even when we're mad at God, I think he still hears our prayers. Doesn't he?
Please go to carlhallbenefitfund.scoutforsuccess.com to find out how you can help Carl and his family. On facebook go to Carl Hall Recovery Fan Club.