P.J.’s Journey: An Anniversary to Celebrate
This past Friday, January 11th, marked one year since P.J.’s accident. In some ways, that seems so long ago, and in others, it seems like just yesterday. I am one who encourages others to forget anniversary dates unless they are of fond occasions, such as an engagement, wedding, lottery win (smile) or other happy moment. I think remembering the date someone we loved died is pointless… what’s more important is remembering the date they were born, the date they were baptizied, the date they graduated from high school, etc. Too often we dwell on the negative things that happen to us. But because we wanted to continuously show P.J. how far he had come in “x” number of days, we kept looking at the calendar and counting back. We had a positive purpose in mind, and I’m glad we did it, but the negative side of it all is that it made that date stick in our minds, and my friends, that is a date that I have often wanted to forget.
With the passing of one year, I was contacted by my Human Resources Department at work a few weeks ago and questioned about P.J.’s status. The representative encouraged me to complete a request for an extension on my Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage. For those of you who are not familiar with that, larger companies are mandated to offer this type of protection to employees who are themselves ill or injured or have an immediate family member who needs long term care. It allowed me to take off, without question or concern, up to twelve weeks (non-consecutively) during the past year while P.J. has been recovering. When HR first contacted me, it forced me to dig through some of the original emails I’d sent in the hours/days just after the fire. This was not a pleasant experience. I found myself in tears as I was glancing over some of them. It was a flashback of where I had been emotionally at that time, and that was not a good place to be.
I had a similar experience when I tried to write thank you cards after my dad’s funeral. I offered to do this for my mom and family, and I very much regret that it never got done. Every time I started writing, I found myself crying all over the cards and missing my dad more than ever. I finally gave up. So, if you’re one of the people who was owed a thank you card back then, my apologies and my belated thanks for your care and concern for our family.
My point is, that bringing yourself back to a place or a date that reminds you of a negative event is not a good thing, and you should do everything you can to avoid that! It’s like the guy who said to the doctor “It hurts when I do this.” The doctor’s reply? “Then don’t do that!” LOL. All too often, a young girl has a tendency to cry herself to sleep listening to the song that reminds her of the boy who just broke her heart. (Yes, I speak from experience!) I say “DON’T!!!” If it hurts when you do that, then don’t do that!
So what was my point? Oh yeah… What I was trying to say is that with P.J., we were purposely remembering the date of his accident so we could point out to him his progress. That turned out to be a very positive thing, because we have been able to show him pictures and videos of all of the early days and then intermittent ones thereafter. Whenever he says “I’m not healing,” we have evidence to say “Oh yes you are!!” Before and after pictures of his wounds show incredible progress. We used the pictures of his face (which healed the best and fastest for several reasons) to comfort many family members of other victims who’d come to the burn unit. Everyone who entered and left Baton Rouge General’s Burn Unit from January to September 2012 knew P.J.’s story and became a friend and supporter and we did our best to encourage and support them in return. But while remembering the date was a good thing in a way, I did find myself becoming a bit emtional at times on Friday, and having my own little pity party about what a rough year it has been… not even counting the other difficulties we faced.
I’ve decided, however, that January 11, 2012 will be a date that we will celebrate and remember forever as a good one. It is the date that God spared our child from what should have been a fatal accident. It was the first day of a journey that has brought out the good in all of us as we’ve supported one another through the tough times, a journey that has made us closer to each other, and a journey that has given us such a workout that we are stronger than we could ever imagine.
P.J. is doing very well. He is getting stronger every day and his wounds are progressing. We are hoping that he will only need one additional surgery in the near term. As we continue with P.J.’s Journey, I look forward to some new dates for celebration, like the day he walks with no assistance, the day of his wedding, and the day his first child is born. As always, we thank you for the prayers that have kept us going and have helped to make each day a better one!
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