Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Arm


Those of you who are serious Marti Smith fans may remember the story about my friend who was in a terrorist bombing incident in South Asia; I told it in Through Her Eyes. I was thinking about her the other day... for you who don't remember the story, here are the notes from my 2003 interview. If you remember it, skip to the end:

"March 17 was our second Sunday visiting this church. It was located in the diplomatic enclave, and supposedly quite a safe area. The first time we went, there were armed guards everywhere. The second time, we were a little puzzled; there were no armed guards.

"When we got there I wanted to put [my son] in the nursery, but there was nobody there yet. I took him with me to the sanctuary. After the service started they got to that point where everyone is supposed to shake hands and stuff, and I never like that part so it seemed like a good time to slip out; I went out and put him in the nursery. Then I came back and the sermon started. [The baby] fell asleep in my lap. I kicked off my shoes and crossed my legs. It was a hot spring morning and the sermon was kind of boring.

"Then I heard what sounded like fireworks in the back of the church. The Muslim holiday season had just finished, so it could have been that, but seemed like a bad joke or a skit. But I turned around and saw the commotion; people in the back row were getting up in a panic. I thought, this is not a joke, this is something serious. I saw and started to smell smoke, and pieces of debris in the air, and I thought, somebody is shooting at us: this could be the last moment of my life.

"All kinds of things go trough your mind. It felt like slow motion. I had full-on peace, thought: I wasn’t panicking one bit. It was like I was packed in cotton. My two thoughts were for God and my husband, my two most important relationships. Am I alright with God? I was so glad, you know if he takes you, you go to a good place. You are OK. So the next thing is I wanted to be right with [my husband] too.

"Then pieces were flying through the air. I thought, I’d better get out of here somehow! I wanted to get out and started looking around to leave. But at that moment [my husband] grabbed me, pushed me down, and threw himself on top of us. [The baby] woke as I hit the floor, and a bomb went off. That bomb perforated our ears, but not [the baby’s] because he had started to cry so he had no pressure in his ears!

"As we tried to get out, I was barefoot and carrying [the baby], so my only thoughts were, don’t step on the glass, and get out. I felt weaker and weaker, and looked down and saw there was blood all down my left side. Oh my God I was hit! I sort of listened, inside, thinking, can I continue breathing, or is there something wrong internal?

"We made it up the foyer. We had just finished [the Muslim holiday]. They slaughter animals for the ritual of sacrifice at that time, and in our gutters you would see a lot intestines and the inner parts of animals. As we walked out I saw some of that, and you realize, this is from a human being! But I didn’t see anyone laying on the ground dead or wounded, because I was looking down and focusing on not stepping on glass. That was just God’s mercy, I think.

"We saw another family we knew; the wife was injured but the husband was not. They had their car parked in front of the church and he knew the best place to go. Even so, as we were driving to the hospital, I was thinking, this takes so long, we’re never getting there! Their little boy, only three years old, kept saying, 'They did it on purpose, those bad men they did it on purpose.' I was so surprised, that he understood that."

My friend's arm was shattered and her eardrum punctured, the baby in her arms was unharmed. She still doesn't have a full range of motion in her arm. But she is thankful. "Before," she says, "I never thought, 'I have this arm!'" Now she thanks God for her arm.

She also thanks God for her husband. He may be bad about taking the garbage out, it's true, "But in a crisis situation, what a person is made of all comes out. He jumped on top of me when the bombs hit." (Don't you love that? I love that line.)

I was walking along the other day thinking about my friend being thankful for her arm, her kind-of-mangled arm. I had spent too much time on the exercise bike the other day and could feel pain in my hip joint as I walked. But I thought: Hey, I have this hip. I have two legs, two arms, all these organs, this face, and so on. It may be pretty easy to complain about what we have, to see only the flaws and things that don't work right - or look right - or seem not as good as what someone else has.

I think I'd watched 'Dancing with the Stars' with my parents the night before and felt, I could never do that; I am nothing special. True? Well, we can't all be Kristi Yamaguchi!

"You need to pray and thank God for your body, for your face," the thought came. "For the strength and health and beauty that you do have, whether they seem like enough or not. Those things are tools in God's hands. He works through them. You should thank him."

Not just by thinking, but through prayer, through systematically thanking God for each part of me, I found my attitude about what I've got to work with, changing. There are so many things I can do with how I use my body and/or my countenance. We shouldn't take these things for granted. We're given so much power, so much potential. Even as, at the same time, we're so vulnerable. Could lose so much in just a moment.

My friend described the time after the bombing like this:
The period right after was glorious time, in spite of all the pain and weirdness and sensitivity of emotions. You knew, overwhelmingly, that God protected you and he was right there with you. You may only have a few moments like that in your life.

4 comments:

Paul Merrill said...

Great reminder - to be thankful for our whole bodies.

It fits in with my post today, b-positive.

Marti said...

Yup. Actually, I had been thinking about this for the last week or so and your post inspired me to write it up.

My blood type is A+ ... does that mean I'm practically perfect in every way? Sadly, no.

Megan Noel said...

i am not sure i can possibly thank god for my insides right now, they hurt to much. ibs. explain that one to me, please. no, really. it does not usually hurt this badly.

Marti said...

Yikes, sorry you are in so much pain, Meg!