Friday, November 20, 2015

Simply Grateful

by Judy

Two nights ago I went to our church with my son to hear NYPD Detective Steven McDonald speak as part of my son's religious education classes.   What began as "oh no, one more thing to do on the calendar" rapidly became the best thing I had done in a very long time. 

In 1986, Detective McDonald, then Police Officer McDonald, was shot three times, while patrolling Central Park in Manhattan.  He is the most seriously injured New York City police officer to survive his/her injuries.  Since that day he has been in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic, using  a ventilator for every breath he takes. 

As  we all sat listening to him recount that day, and his life since that day, one could have heard a pin drop.  The rhythmic  whooshing  sound of his ventilator, and his soft voice were the only sounds in the church.  

Yes, his story was about what happened to him that day, but even more than that, it was about his life since then, and how he has not just survived, but lived.  He spoke of the gratitude he has - for his loving wife of almost thirty years, for his son who was born shortly after the horrific shooting,  for the love of all of his family and friends, and for all of the support he has received from the people of New York City and all over the world.  However, he says he is most grateful for waking up each day, for all that he has been given, and for the chance to speak to people, young and old, about how his faith and gratitude has helped him thrive.  Remember, this is a man who has spent almost thirty years of his life in a wheelchair, and on a ventilator.

McDonald quoted "if you want to make God laugh, tell him of the plans you've made for yourself." Even though his life has been far, far different from what he had planned, his gratitude for life, and his strong faith radiates from him. 

At the end of his talk, he asked if there were any questions.  One student asked if he wished he had never gone to Central Park that day.  He answered, " no, I was so glad to be working that day with my boss and partner, and that is the job I loved.  I just wish I had ducked."  Oh boy, believe me, I definitely needed more tissue than I had brought with me! 

During this month of giving thanks for all that we have, and for those we love, I want to keep in perspective how truly wonderful my life is - all of it. Not just the good, but also the bad, the worries, the tears, the pain.  Yes, we all have legitimate sorrow at times, we all have legitimate worry, but my wish is that all of us here, contributors and followers alike, exude so much gratitude for life that it moves people, just like Detective McDonald's gratitude moved everyone in that church that night.  

"All that we behold is full of blessings." 
-William Wordsworth-


Carol said...

Thank you Judy! His is an amazing story of overcoming . In medicine i come across. people who go through horrific things and manage to keep their faith and gratitude intact. It is very humbling and they have a lesson to teach us all. It i,portant to remember what we are given every day that we take for granted.

Cathy H. said...

An amazing and touching story. It would have been so easy for him to blame, to become bitter, and to lose faith. He is an inspiration, a reminder to stay strong in our faith and to be grateful for the blessed life we have. Thank you for sharing!

Dotti said...

Such a dramatic story but, oh! what an inspirational life this gentleman has lived. We take our first responders for granted when we should be particularly grateful for them every day, never more so than in these troubled times. Thank you for sharing this story of an inspired life and an unselfish human being. It's a lovely way to start our weekend.

terriporter said...

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is wiping away tears after reading this. Such an amazing and heartfelt story! And what an amazing man Detective McDonald is! A wonderful example to all of us. We think our lives are hard sometimes but when we see how he has remained upbeat and kept his faith throughout, well it just makes you realize how thankful we should be every day for the blessings we have. Thank you so much for sharing this, Judy. It will not leave my mind or my heart for quite some time, I'm sure.

kelly said...

man judy...kind of puts it all in perspective. i can only imagine how powerful it must have been to be there in person and hear him speak. thank you for sharing this today. it hits close to home as i most surely gave the good Lord a serious case of the giggles with the plans i've been trying to make work. turning myself inside out trying to please everyone. this is a wonderful story and excellent advice as we get ready for thanksgiving and then christmas. thank you so much for sharing it. hugs...oxoxo

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