Saturday, July 30, 2011

"I'm breathing...I have nothing to complain about"

I have an friend.
When asked "how you're doing", his response is always "I'm breathing, I have nothing to complain about".
It's his simple way of celebrating that he's here to see another sunrise, make someone smile, and enjoy the beauty that he seems to find in the day to day grind.
It's his positive attitude and his ability to see good in everything he experiences that inspires me to "make the most " out of every day that I'm alive.
I've known this guy for over 6 years. We met when he was a Corporal in Fallujah, Iraq. In the last few days of the battle, when we were just getting ready to pull out, he had the misfortune to locate an IED....the hard way.
He lost both legs and the lower part of his left arm.
I saw him again a year after his injuries, when he was just getting started in physical therapy and learning how to use his artificial limps. We've kept in touch via the net and an occasional phone call for several years. Every time when I asked him how he was doing, he would answer, "Well I'm breathing...got nothing to complain about". Now that I live in Wash DC, close to his home, we've been in contact more often and have been trying to arrange a meeting.
He called me a few weeks ago and we set up a time and place to meet. I was prepared to drive to his place when he said he wanted to meet in town so that he could see my new place. We ended the conversation when I mentioned to him that I was getting ready to go to go on my morning run. He asked me what route I took and how many kilometers I ran a day. In the back of my mind I cringed that I brought up the topic. We said our goodbyes and ended our conversation.
Last night we met for dinner and drinks. Met him at a place a few blocks  from where I live. When I walked into the restaurant he stood up reached out and shook my hand and he hugged each other as only two comrades in arms could do. I was stunned that someone with no legs and a missing arm, looked and functioned so well.
The evening went on and on, reliving stories from our time together in Iraq.  We both drank more than we should have, and ended up walking back to my place. I showed him the guest room and we both crashed.
I woke up at 7:30 and started my routine, getting ready to go on my run. I went into the kitchen to start the coffee so it would be ready when I returned. I was standing there in my jockey shorts when he came around the corner dressed in running shorts and attached to his steel/titanium legs were a pair of running shoes.  I was speechless. I didn't know what to say. He just smiled and said, come on lets get going.
We finished a 10k run, that brought us around the tidal basin, along  the reflecting pool and around the Washington monument. As we sat down to some fruit and pastry and our cups of coffee...I asked him how he slept, his response was " I woke up, got nothing to complain about".

1 comment:

mmlp said...

Gives you a huge bear hug, Semper Fi andkeeps the juices flowing