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The Healing Tree


Chapter 16

Tác giả: unknown

“One more try.” I’d spent the past twenty minutes immobilized and crying, and now Amanda was telling me to try again. Eight months ago, Mark and I had hiked to the top of Long’s Peak in Colorado, and now I couldn’t even pull myself from the wheelchair onto a hospital bed. “Just one more try, Carrie Anne, then I’ll take you back.”

“I can’t.” I started to cry again, only this time more from self-pity than from frustration. “I can’t.” Every day, it was the same thing. Amanda or one of the other physical therapists would take me down to the gym and then tell me to do something impossible. Pull yourself onto the bed, Carrie Anne. Turn yourself into a fish, Carrie Anne.

Amanda stepped behind the wheelchair and hooked her forearms under my armpits, lifting gently. “Come on, Carrie Anne. Grab onto the bedrails and pull. You’re going to have to master this before you can go back home. Before you can live on your own again.”

Live on my own? As in without Mark? I made another half-hearted attempt, then gave in to self-pity and collapsed back into the chair. “I can’t,” I whispered. “Please, just take me back to my room. I can’t do this.”

Amanda walked around to the side and nudged one of those big rubber exercise balls in my direction. She sat on it, keeping her balance as easily as an ordinary person sitting in an ordinary chair, and I was envious beyond all reason. She looked at me for a moment (I avoided her gaze by looking at my knees), then said, “That word is poison, Carrie Anne, that word ‘can’t.’ Even when it’s accurate, it’s usually not true.”

“How can something be accurate but not true?”

“It is accurate that right now, you seem to be unable to pull yourself up onto that bed, but it is not true that you can’t do it. The real truth is that you really can do this. But when you add the letter T to the end of the word can, it’s like putting an umbrella over a picnic table. It prevents the sunshine of possibility from shining in. Every time you cover can with T and turn it into can’t, you’re quitting before you’ve even tried.”

“But I really can’t.” I slapped the sides of my legs. “These legs really are dead, and all the positive thinking in the world’s not going to make them jump.”

“Well, maybe not.” Amanda was still giving me the stare that I could not return. “But I’ve seen miracles happen before, and I’m not going to rule one out for you, not as quickly as you seem to have.”

“Humph. God’s not going to raise Mark from the dead, and God’s not going to breathe life back into these legs. He’s busy elsewhere.”

“Okay,” Amanda said, “maybe you never will walk again. In fact, you probably won’t. I’ll give you that. So why don’t you start thinking about what you still can do?”

Defiance came back with a vengeance. I was not going to let go of the self-pity tar baby that easily. “Well, in case you didn’t know, Amanda, mountain trails are not handicapped accessible.” Hiking through the mountains with Mark had been much on my mind, and in my dreams, in recent days.

Amanda looked at me the way a rattlesnake might regard a mouse, without a trace of pity. “Carrie Anne. Every winter I take a handicapped accessible van full of people in wheelchairs to the mountains to go skiing. Some of them, I have a hard time keeping up with on the way down. You want to know what the difference is between them and you?”

At that moment, I did not want to know the difference between me and Amanda’s ski bums, and made sure that my body language conveyed the message. She told me anyway. “They’re survivors. Same circumstances you have, only a different way of looking at them.” Amanda’s expression never changed, she just sat there on her ball staring at me. At last, she asked me a question. “Would you like to hear the one simple word that will transform you from being a victim into being a survivor?”

“Sure,” I replied, wiping my nose and eyes on my sleeve, since there weren’t any Kleenex handy, and Amanda didn’t seem to be overly concerned about getting some for me.



“Yep. As soon as you add ‘yet’ to the words ‘I can’t,’ your mental focus will shift from the past to the future. I said I’ve seen miracles happen, and I have. And every single one of them had its roots in acceptance – acceptance of what had happened. Yeah, it was a tragic thing, that accident. But it happened. It’s not going to un-happen. So life goes on – or not – when you start thinking about what you still can do and stop whining about what you can no longer do.”

“Is this the tough love speech?”

“Don’t you think you need it?” Amanda replied without smiling.

I nodded. “I guess so.”

“Every time you hear yourself uttering those toxic and disempowering words – I can’t – just tack on the word yet. Like, I can’t pull myself onto this bed – yet. Like, I can’t go to the mountains – yet.” Amanda was rolling her exercise ball back and forth like a seal in the circus. “Think about it. The word yet is only one letter removed from the word yes. Add yet to I can’t and you change your assumptions, you change your expectations, and you change your outcomes. And eventually, you might even change No to Yes. Do that, and someday I’ll be telling some other patient about a miracle named Carrie Anne Murphy.”

“So that’s my prescription? Say yet, and expect a miracle?”

Amanda finally smiled. “That’s your prescription. Add yet to can’t, work hard, and expect a miracle. Just don’t give God a deadline.”

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