I found that my former church has sermons you can listen to online. I started listening to a few - it was nice to hear some familiar voices - the preist who married me and dh. Familiar echoes of the congregtion laughing in my church home.
Then Robert spoke. He's not a priest, just a member of the congregation in his 30's. He works at the local Target. When shoppers see him, they know he is different. One side of his body is stiff and his gait uneven. His expression often slightly vacant. Scars remain on one side of his face.
I knew him when he was in high school. I think my sister either had a crush on him or went out with him once. He was so handsome, athletic - a wrestler- attended an elite boys prep school and always wore a coat and repp tie to church. He was cool - aloof - maybe seemed a tad arrogant.
But he works at Target. Not because he was uneducated - no, he went to a fancy southern university and pledged a preppy fraternity and dated good looking girls. Drove a fancy car. Had a start in a promising career in finance as a stock broker.
He is a walking miracle. The first time I saw him back at church after the accident he was in a wheel chair and would involuntarily moan or shout out during the service. I found myself wincing every time. I heard his fiancée left him unable to deal with the situation. He was told he'd be in a hospital bed for the rest of his life. Eventually he walked with a walker ...and then without it.
He'd always tell me a joke. Every Sunday a new joke. I think he was working on improving short term memory with this exercise. Through his slurred speech which is much improved now - this is 15 years later, I think - he was full of jokes and smiles and compliments to my mom about what beautiful daughters she has.
Judging a book by it's cover can be painful. I imagine all who see the guy stocking the shelves and have no idea what he used to be like and who he still is inside. How different he is now - and how the same. They have no idea how far the effects of one unused seatbelt and one careless driver can be felt. As a mother of boys, I so pray they will always be protected.
And I thank Robert for reminding me to be a careful driver - that every one out on the road is someone's child.