The Edmond Sun

Opinion

April 18, 2014

My best days are ones normal people take for granted

LOS ANGELES — It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.

“I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

I finish my coffee, then roll into the bedroom for my stubbies. Two days after the bombing, both my legs were amputated above the knee. A year later, I’m still unstable on my artificial legs, so in private I sometimes use my stubbies, small platforms that attach to the bottom of my thighs. Because they are only a couple of inches high, and don’t have knees, I can walk and stand on them for hours.

With my stubbies on, I’m less than 4 feet tall, so I paint the bottom half of the wall. Erin stretches for the top, doing things I’ll never be able to do, like stand on tiptoes. We had only been dating for a year when the bomb went off, but she never left my side. She knew how to lightly lift the hair from my burnt forehead without causing me pain. When I joked, “Don’t worry E, our kids will have legs,” and she laughed, I realized how much I loved her. We hugged, and it was the first time we touched without pain. It was six more months before the engagement, and the pregnancy, but it felt inevitable.

“What about trim?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I was thinking yellow or green.”

“How about red for the Sox?”

“Jeff ...”

“I’m kidding.”

The doorbell rings. “That’s Kevin,” Erin says. “I asked him to help with the futon.” Kevin Horst is my store manager at Costco. He visited me every day in the hospital, and stopped by my mom’s apartment for months to give her flowers because he knew how worried she was. He’s gay, in a long-term relationship but with no plans for children, and sometimes I feel like his semi-adopted son.

“Heavy Kevy!” I shout, opening the door. Kevin is standing there with a drill. “You don’t know anything about IKEA furniture, do you?” I say, laughing.

“It’s a gift for you and Erin.”

He and I sit on the floor and unbox the futon pieces. It does not go well. There is fake wood everywhere, and none of it fits. Kevin keeps insisting we follow the directions. I’m convinced the drill could solve all our problems, if we’d give it a chance. In the end, Kevin is driven crazy because the slipcase won’t fit snugly on the cushion. Erin talks him down. I just laugh; I’ve been laughing with Kevin all afternoon.

Afterward, I make lattes for everyone, and we sit in the baby’s room, admiring our work. I think: Are we watching paint dry? But Erin and Kevin talk about the natural light, and all the memories this room will hold. For a minute, it’s hard to believe this is my life: My house, my love, my friend, my baby on the way.

“This was a great day,” I tell Kevin, as I roll with him to the door. “One of the best.”

Most people would look at me sideways for saying this about such a mundane day. After all, since the bombing, I’ve stood on the field at Fenway during the seventh-inning stretch of a World Series baseball game; I sat in the presidential box at the State of the Union address. Erin and I met Michelle Obama.

But Kevin understands. He knows that the things normal people take for granted — going to the bathroom on their own, getting out of bed without falling down, making a latte for friends — once seemed insurmountable to me. There were times, when the sweat poured off me as I struggled and failed to take one step, that I wanted to give up, because I thought that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be self-sufficient again. I would always be a burden to the people I love.

So those other experiences, they are special. They are memories I’ll always have. But this experience — doing household chores, being helpful, living a normal life — is what matters. It is what I worked so hard for. And right now, it’s all I really want.

JEFF BAUMAN’S book “Stronger” is out this month. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results