This I Believe

Kristina - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on May 9, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: love

I believe that life is about love.

My life was forever changed in September of 2004. With that change came the forming of a solid belief….

Bumping along a dirt path in the back of a pickup truck in Cameroon, Africa, I hadn’t the slightest clue of what was headed my way…. Some time later, I lifted from a coma in a South African ICU. Apparently, I’d been medically evacuated from Cameroon, after sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a car accident that I’d been in.

Because of my experience in South Africa, I came to truly understand what it means to live every moment as if it were the last.

When the fevers spiked and pneumonia rampaged, I was left spending nights in incessant coughing fits and cold sweats. But death was never a possibility that crossed my mind. Rather, I grasped the little bit of life that remained within me and hoped that somewhere, someway, somehow, my belief would spare me. While I was left virtually out of control of my situation, I continued doing the only thing that I could – live.

Before the accident, I believed that life is to be lived fully and consciously – a belief that probably put me in Africa in the first place. Now, this belief was being put to the test. By laying there paralyzed, day-in and day-out, in an ever-conscious manner, I came to realize the most crucial element to my life. In bed, not knowing what was to be, I came to love everyone, in every moment that was presented.

While I have surmounted impossible challenges, felt the pain that exists in hospitalization, am cognizant of and frustrated by the residual effects of a severe TBI, and make an effort to understand the suffering that exists in mine and others’ lives, I cannot help but take note of the rainbow behind the storm clouds, the flowers in the garbage heap, the life, the beauty, the love in all.

By staying alive, I discovered the key to living; I found true love. I found that my life is surrounded by love. It was amazing to see that, as my needs became simplified, living in ‘the here and now’ became less complicated, became easier. By celebrating the small triumphs and tiny joys in my life – like relearning to crawl and walk – my heart swelled with love…for all my capabilities, for all the people in my life who cared for and protected me, for all the beauty in life.

Everyday that I continue to live, I must be cognizant of my ability to do so. I must also be aware of all of my capabilities. It is this awareness that places me at the center of understanding love. I only hope that this knowledge stays fresh in my mind.

Love. What else do I need?