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Five Years Later

by Jackson Sherry 5 months ago in humanity

A Letter to Myself, Five Years After the Accident

Guess which one is me...

Every day seems like a small step in one direction or another, but to really see how far we've come, we need to look back to where we started. So, Jackson, me, this letter is a look back; a contemplation on this chapter of our life, a meditation on the last five years.

Starting on that hazy night. Announcing your social security number to some hospital administrator while gazing up, vision blurry, at the bright fluorescent lighting, unaware of the damage done to the body below. That incredibly vivid phone call to Wyatt, asking him to keep the whole thing a secret. Ensuring him that you might be a little banged up, but you'd make it back to work on time. That was the last clear moment.

You'd hang up the phone and undergo two major surgeries to stabilize the damage done to your spine, and spend the next few weeks trying to piece together the cloudy moments you could remember in between the frequent doses of pain and anxiety medication.

Little did you know that the bold clemency you demonstrated when immediately forgiving Mikey, would blossom into a great friendship, full of growth and compassion. Allowing you both to escape the stress and frustration that comes with holding a grudge. What happened, happened. It's how we move forward that really matters. I knew by the look in his eyes that he'd be living a different life from that point forward.

Mikey, the gentle giant.

After bouts of pneumonia, extreme weight loss, and the mental struggle of adapting to your new body, you'd return to the house you grew up in, once again in the care of the parents who raised you. Constantly wearing a happy visage to hide how you really felt about being an independent 23 year-old who suddenly can't do anything for himself; protecting your loved ones from the pain you felt behind those cheerful eyes and false smile. You'd keep yourself dull and numb with the pain killers, using them to escape the reality of your life, rather than their intended use. Because the constant physical pain was nothing compared to mourning the loss of your old life while adapting to the never ending hurdles of the new one.

Father's day, 2016

In time, you'd take a leap, fall in love. Lizzie. She'd help you find the beautiful moments of happiness each day, giving you hope, helping you realize that maybe this life can be lived. Together, you'd face obstacles and learn what it's like to live, and love, and grow with this body, and the challenges it brings. There would be good times and bad times, but ultimately, the good would outweigh the bad. You'd plan for a life together, only to find out that it wouldn't come to be; her cancer diagnosis looming over the future you had so carefully designed.

Six months later, you'd wake up at 3AM to a call from a Stanford doctor, impassively informing you that she was running out of time. Following that cold, silent drive, you'd find yourself crying at the foot of her hospital bed, wishing that they had done more or found out earlier, but knowing that everything that could have been done, was done. She'd die that day surrounded by loved ones. The trip home felt surreal, and the next few weeks and months would bear an unshakeable feeling of emptiness.

Smiling until the last day.

On the search for answers, you'd turn inward, only to find that everything you were looking for was there all along. Through study, and trial and error, you searched for purpose, hoping to help others, while also cultivating true happiness. Eventually, the cleansing feeling of storytelling, mixed with the satisfaction of making art would nudge you in the direction of filmmaking and writing. You'd pour immense amounts of time into the process of sharing ideas and hoping that others would find what they needed in your messages.

While constantly practicing self awareness and meticulously ensuring that you were living by the right values, you'd deepen your mindful practices, struggling with the fact that perfection cannot be achieved. In time you would lean into that truth, using it to fuel your growth. The growth that would help you move beyond the struggles of paralysis, help you accept the grief of your loss, and open yourself up to love once again.

After almost a year of searching, you and Katie would find each other. You lived five blocks apart for your entire lives and had never spoken a single word to each other, but in a short time, you'd fall in love and start a beautiful life together, which brings us to present day.

Though the last five years contained much more detail than I've relived in these five pages (in my journal), My message to you is clear. You have grown immensely. Life is made up of events, which are made of moments; much like a sentence is made up of words, which are made up of letters. Most of what we do and how we life can be compared to reading. The words flow by, one after the other, telling us a story. But to learn the deeper meaning and truly understand what we've read, we must occasionally look back and analyze each word. The same is true with life. Simply living moment to moment without stopping to contemplate, causes us to believe nothing has changed. But if we take a moment to look back, we immediately realize what a great distance we've traveled.

2012

2018

So take comfort in knowing just how far you've come in the last five years. You've grown more than you imagined possible. You've demonstrated strength and compassion. You've overcome obstacles and navigated life changes, ones you never thought you'd experience so early in life. You've learned a great deal about acceptance and impermanence. All I have to say is that I'm proud of you.

-Jackson

humanity

Jackson Sherry

Like many others, I'm on a journey in search of mental clarity. I've been a lot of things; a US Navy submariner, a rock climber, a filmmaker, and a life coach, to name a few. But, life's a little too complex to settle for just one label.

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