Eye of the Tiger
Is there anyone out there who doesn't love an underdog story?
I remember, all throughout my childhood, being forced to watch the movie "Rudy." Rudy, for those who do not know, was a 5-foot-nothing kid from a poor family with terrible grades, very little athletic ability, and a dream to play football for Notre Dame. Drive and heart were the only things he had going for him. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, heartache, and the unique ability to persevere through it all brought him to one glorious scene where he was FINALLY let into the game for the last few plays against Georgia Tech. With a stadium full of people chanting his name, this ultimate underdog sacks the quarterback and is hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates.
Oh, my dad watched this movie over and over and over. Dust's dad says he did the same. They love the message of it. It is just when everything points to impossible that the most amazing things in life can happen.
Dustin and I got stuck in a little rut for a few weeks after the surgery, feeling quite sorry for ourselves. I mean, really though, does anyone blame us? We had held up so well and dealt with the injury and the aftermath of the accident with a lot of strength. We were on such a spiritual high after he got his vision back. The many miracles that had occurred were undeniable. Our Heavenly Father had clearly intervened on Dustin's behalf, on multiple accounts. And now we were tired. Worn down.
The surgery brought us back to day one of the accident and then some. Dust's physical pain level was higher and the Spirit wasn't quite as strong. We really, truly felt in the depths of it.
With slumped shoulders and his head down, Dustin wrote this in his journal:
Sometimes it feels like you're driving down the road on empty with no gas station in sight. You don’t know what's around the corner or what to expect as you keep going. With all of the drugs that I was on in the hospital, it has felt like I've been trapped in my body with no escape plan in place. All along I've known that The Lord has a plan for me but it has been hard to concentrate and have the Spirit with me through these times. The hospital stay seemed to be long and more than expected. The trach and mouth wired shut has been a lot harder than I expected.
I've been having a hard time lately with feeling the Spirit in my life and knowing that this is just a short time in our lives. Each minute seems like an hour and each hour seems like a day. No matter what we try to do to pass the time, it seems like it Is never ending.
The next day, he wrote this:
Ash and I went downstairs like we usually do and started to get ready for bed. She could tell something was wrong with me as we were getting ready. As we sat there I wrote a few things down on the board. One of them was that I didn’t know that it was going to be this hard and that I wanted our life back. This whole process has been harder than I thought it would be and there have been several times when I’ve wished for everything to go back to how we had it before. Our life was so perfect before all of this happened. Things like that kept popping into my head as I contemplated my life and what was in store for us ahead.
As Ashley and I knelt on the floor, again she knew that something was wrong, I broke down and wrote those things on the board and cried to her as I did it. She gave me some words of encouragement but I still felt bad about the whole situation. She asked if I wanted another Priesthood blessing from her Dad and I said yes.
Both Rob and Nancy came down and they both stood there and cried with us for a minute. It was silent for a little bit as we all cried with tears of frustration and help from our Heavenly Father.
Rob then proceeded with the blessing as he laid his hands upon my head. It was a very special blessing to me and a comfort as he said the words he was guided to say. He said that this is the hardest part and that I will grow both spiritually and physically as we endure these trials. He also promised again that I would be fully restored.
After the blessing I felt a calm come over me and a sense that everything is going to be alright and you just need to buck up for a little while. It’s hard at the time to know that everything is going to be ok because you feel like there is no end in sight, but The Lord can and will do it, just in His time. I hope His time is sooner than later, but we just need to learn to submit to His will and know that things that we have been promised will come to pass.
Over the next few days, we decided that it was time to pick ourselves up. To stop feeling sorry for ourselves. What has happened has happened and there is not a thing we can change about that. BUT we can change the course of our future. Our destiny is a bright one.
Our dads both came to the same conclusion. My dad sent this email to Dust:
I have promises for you. I can see your future clearly. Hold me to these. Mark them down so I can say I told you so:
Your pain will go down.
You will eat real food again.
Your vision will improve.
You will see and notice things that nobody else will see or notice. Amazing things.
You will look into your wife's eyes.
You will see your kids grow up.
You will dance with Haley at her wedding.
You will watch Cole 's first soccer game and his first golf tournament.
You will go back to work and provide a great living for your family. You were born to build things.
You will drive again.
You will build your own house.
You will work out and be stronger than you ever were.
You will play golf and beat me. I won't make this one easy.
You will make an extraordinary difference in the lives of your family members and countless others.
A man who could do half of these things would live a great life. You will do all of them.
Endure the darkness and the hard minutes and hours. The rewards are worth every minute.
I love you. Everyone does.
Yesterday, our dads, both with excitement in their eyes, told us of a few people who have overcome great odds and are thriving despite the mountains in their path.
My dad's friend, Augie Nieto, has ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). He is not only happy despite being totally trapped in his body, almost completely unable to move - he is GAINING function back, little by little, which has never before been seen with ALS.
Dustin's dad told us of this man, Erik Weihenmayer, who lost all vision by high school. This man has scaled Mount Everest, totally blind. He white water kayaks and has become one of the top adventurers in the world.
I watched my big, strong superhero husband - wounded, beaten down and 30 pounds less than his strongest physically - begin physical therapy. Watching him squat and lunge brought excitement to my heart. "The Eye of the Tiger" started playing in my head. I even made him throw some punches in the air! I told him... this is your training sequence! You are training to be something great!
Rudy Ruettiger, Augie Nieto, Erik Weihenmayer, Rocky Balboa, Dustin Dickamore. Just you wait and see.