Hello again! I owe you an apology for the break. I am now back home in Indianapolis, after touching ground in Durham and Seattle and a not-so-fancy rest stop in between. I could offer a string of convincing excuses for not posting for so long that ranges from car trouble to family trips. I could regale you with a tale of a hellacious hotel whose most luxurious amenities include a can of Lysol and a charred iron mark in the carpet, but that is a story for another post. Instead, I owe this post to more grievous abstraction: the year mark of my injury.

In a world where perfection is largely a myth, a world of almosts, it is the rare event that draws a clean line between white and black. But that is exactly what July 17th, 2011, did for me. In the time it takes to dive, an action I had done just a week before off a two-story cliff in Hawaii, my body failed me. I was stopping, falling and exploding. Resisting. Screaming and fighting. Burning. Twisting and torquing. And most of all demanding of the air why a capsule of very solid water would not release me from its numbing grip. On and on the maelstrom went, the ambulance yielding hospital rooms yielding rehab gyms in a progressive kind of hell.

Sometimes I think of nothing but returning to my old life, with its meticulous architecture and order and absolutely no catastrophic injury. I want to stand up and turn around, sharply, and face the wrinkled blackness of the past year. If given such a magical circumstance, I would grit my teeth and steel my brow with grim purpose – as if by force of will I could melt the black away. In my dreams I stare up with green eyes at the unformed mountains of what I could have achieved this past year had I gone to Duke as planned.

But, of course, these lines of thought are unhealthy. Reality wheels forward. Some days it’s easier to look on toward the mountains in my future. Some days it’s not. Whenever a dark spot surfaces, I always remember the love and support of those around me and I realize how lucky I am. Call it my anniversary present. Or a display for myself and others of the triumph that can come from tragedy. No matter in how many dark dreams I find myself, that is always a feeling that gives me hope when I wake up.


15 thoughts on “7/17/11

  1. Jay, I’m sure as time goes on you will come across a variety of “reasons” why this occurred to you at this point in your life. But I am certain, without a doubt one of those reasons you may never fully realize, that being all the people you will and are inspiring. I will share these blogs with some of my students as I see fit when they get so wrapped up in the crap they have in their lives. Not to say “look, this guy has it worse”, no but to say – “even if you are stuck in a bad situation you can sit and whine and cry about it ,or cry a bit and then move on to be the best person you can possibly be with what you have.” As you go on to Duke and become the successful person you were always meant to be – you will be inspiring countless others, that you will never hear about! God bless you!

  2. Wonderful post! I love you and miss you. I owe you such a long letter. I have so much to tell you about what is going on with me and how you have helped me from a distance. That letter is coming, but schedule changes start today!!! YUCK!

    I continue to pray for you every single day!
    Nine Ladies Dancing Forever!!

  3. What strong imagery–“face the wrinkled blackness of the past year” because, when something is wrinkled, you cannot see it fully for all the creases and crevices. Some folks tackle life immersed in “what if’s” (a difficult place to avoid) but you see the pitfalls of those constant glances back and the importantant vision going forward. Create from where you are. Thank you for the post and its meaningful encouragement.

  4. Jay – your posts are an inspiration keep them coming. I wish you much sucess as you head to Duke. As I watch Ben and see how he “keeps on keeping on” and see what you are doing as well as Cole and some of the others from Shepherds I thank God for the blessings you all are. I wish you the best.

  5. You’re an amazing writer and I’m so happy to read your point of view on things. I’m proud of you in so many ways, although I didn’t know you before all this. I respect you a great deal Jay. Happy belated 1 year, all my love goes to you today.

  6. “In my dreams I stare up with green eyes at the unformed mountains of what I could have achieved this past year had I gone to Duke as planned.” Jay, I don’t think that those never formed mountains in North Carolina can hold a candle to the cold and painful mountains you have scaled this past year. You are an inspiration to so many of us who would otherwise have continued walking around in our own “wrinkled blackness,” ignorant and oblivious to those around us scaling mountains every day. I thank you for the light that you are shedding in our lives.

  7. Dear Jay, I am thinking of you and praying for you as always as you move past your one-year anniversary of your accident. I wish I could pretend to know what you are going through, but I don’t, so all I can do is tell you I care and hope that it helps in the slightest. That being said, I want you to know that I am even prouder now to call you my friend than I was a year ago — with your heaping list of accomplishments, spotless academic record, and impressive leadership. You have always been incredible, but now your character shines through in what to me is much more incredible — your ability to remain incredible in the face of adversity — and I want to thank you for sharing with us this deepest, most humble sense of your humanity. I miss you!

  8. Jay – you are bound for great things. Our family enjoyed seeing you in Seattle for Bill Sr’s birthday events. Very fun to spend time together. Hope to see you soon in Durham for a hoops game!

  9. Jay, You don’t really know me, but I certainly know you, or should I say, I know of you. I don’t believe that we ever met, but I taught Drew and Maggie when I was teaching at Cathedral High School. I left before you were a senior. I was fairly sick this past spring and summer myself, and although my illness in no way compares to what you have been through, you always, ALWAYS, served as an inspiration to me. I knew through Paul Brown, Kathy Keyes and Judy Birge, all dear friends of mine, and I believe some of your favorite teachers, how you were doing over the past year and my heart ached knowing of your difficulities, and yet I was always so uplifted by your determination and your hard work to get where you are today. When I experienced some serious lung issues this past spring, I immediately thought of you. I just wanted you to know that I keep you in my prayers every single day of my life. The dignity you bring to this world by the manner in which you live is so incredibly refreshing to people like me. Thank you for being such a genuine inspiration to me!!! With my sincerest and deepest respect – always!!! ~ Jim Obergfell

  10. Jane Pollom

    Dear Jay,

    As always, you inspire me. When I consider the darkness and uncertainty of your dream, it brings to mind the place where we discover the depth of our being and the source of our life. In the darkness, if we are brought to that place, we are given opportunity to discover Source, Life, and Love Itself. In the depths, where deep calls to deep, is our greatest opportunity to find the Divine. God has planted Himself in the center of our soul so that if we seek Him there, we can find Him. In finding Him, we find ourselves. It is a mystery, but a mystery that you seem to be unfolding for the rest of us who for the most part rely heavily on living a normal day to day existence, trusting in our own capabilities.

    We are body and soul. Sometimes it takes the insights of one operating from “soul centeredness” to wake up the rest of us who find satisfaction in our physical existence. It is you Jay who are bringing life to us from what is truly REAL. It is your touch with the interior that is life-giving to us, and in turn that is bringing life to you as well.

    Deep wounds and injuries heal from the inside out. As you tap more deeply into the ocean of Life that is within you, sharing it with us, it is sure to offer you regeneration and healing from within. I can only hope and expect that your interior gift to us will also bring continued regeneration and healing to you.

    Godspeed Jay on your journey.

    Much Love,
    Mrs. Pollom

  11. Jay, you are a star! work hard at Duke this semester. I know you will do amazing! keep us posted!!!! Love and miss you very much!

  12. Hi Jay-what beautiful and inspiring words! We miss you in Atlanta! We think of you and pray for you every day. Duke is going to be an incredible experience for you! We cant wait to see you there and see the lives you will touch in your new environment. God Bless you, Friend.

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