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Monday, July 28, 2014

He's Coming Home!

Posted Friday, October 29, 2010, at 9:48 AM

For weeks our community has been united in sending love and support to a 6-year-old named Eli.

Struck by a car and airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children, it was announced that he will soon be returning home to Greencastle to continue his recovery over the next few months or even years. Soon he'll be back to school and playing sports once again.

Day by day the news of his remarkable improvements has been uplifting! His parents have already begun the process of returning to work part-time. Other parents have begun to release their own worst fears and are allowing their children to get beyond their immediate reach. And slowly but surely all of us are returning to a "normal" life of routines and busy-ness.

But we're not the same.

Tragedies come to every community and this is one that simply has a happier ending than most. Hardships come to every family and this is one that simply has opened their arms and allowed hundreds of us to share each step and to support them during the process.

And some of us are asking questions that we begin to raise after a period of crisis is over.

As a community our most challenging times may come in the immediate weeks ahead. What will you say when you run into his family at a restaurant? What will you do when you run into Eli at Wal-Mart? How do you celebrate without overwhelming? How do you allow a family to return to "normal" after having gone through such a time?

A brain injury is not the same as a stroke, but I have recently found great help from reading "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. A scientist who lost half of her brain at the age of 37, her recovery is remarkable and today she is on the faculty at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Maybe you've seen her on television or watched her on YouTube.

At the end of her book she lists "40 Things I Need the Most." I believe that six apply to our Greencastle miracle:

#28: Celebrate all of my little successes. They inspire me.
#38: Be protective of me but do not stand in the way of my progress.
#5: Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down. Take your time.
#6: Be aware of what your body language and facial expression are communicating to me.
#21: Speak to me directly, not about me to others.
#18: Ask me questions with specific answers. Allow me time to hunt for an answer.

Might I suggest we adapt these for the weeks ahead?

Finally, we'll discover that our reactions are going to be all across the board during the next few weeks. Eli's parents, family, and close friends have been able to take slow steps in processing this accident and the normal roller coaster of feelings on a day by day basis.

Not so for the rest of us.

Indeed, some of us may still be in shock, some in denial, some in dismay, and even some in grief. Many of us won't believe the good news of his miraculous recovery until we see him ourselves. Many of us may be frustrated that his recovery isn't 100% yet!

When you can celebrate, do so openly. There is much to celebrate! And when you need to distance yourself for a short while to allow your feelings to "catch up," give yourself permission to do so in healthy ways.

Our community is going to be trying to return to "normal" after a situation that has touched us all. But for many of our families, normal can no longer mean what it used to mean. We're different now from this experience.

It is my hope it has made all of us better!

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Sunshine for the Soul
Rev. P.T. Wilson
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.
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