Last Thursday (29th January) marked the second anniversary of the major life-changing event in my life. My, how time flies! I have already related the story of what happened on that night two years ago and all the ensuing drama: How my life changed; how I wish it had never happened… and yet, how so many good things have emerged out of that night.
Before I tell you how I am faring I want to share some pictures with you. Hope they make you smile.
This is one of my better pictures since the shooting. I have since gained a few more pounds.
One of my favourite pictures before the shooting. Of course I was much younger here!
This one would have been not more than one year before the incident. Note that all my pictures before were at school.
Hard at work, some years ago, cannot remember exactly how long ago.
After my favourite pasttime – running- at the school’s 5k 2012 and imbibing a chilled soft drink… pity it was not a Coke! Almost certain I had a doubles soon after!
Hope you are not fed up as yet, still a few more to come!
Really love to eat but this was a set up: all those plates and cups were strategically placed by our local, resident paparazzi!
I think this one captures my slightly eccentric side (before of course). Check out the teeth; had enough to lend.
Penny for my thoughts!
Hope you enjoyed getting to know the old me a little. Now back to the anniversary.
First my health is fairly good. I have made steady progress over the two years. I have regained most of the weight that I had lost except for the ten pounds that I had wanted to lose for about ten years before the shooting. Thank goodness I no longer have a skeletal appearance!
I have come to terms with my face and my mouth. The face has changed but I am still somewhat recognizable if you focus on my eyes. My mouth is permanently tight. Some days it feels as if the wires are still in and the weight of the lower jaw cannot be ignored.
Chewing is challenging. The teeth do not line up as they used to and biting anything harder than a slice of juicy, ripe papaya is difficult or near impossible. My food has to be cut or broken into small pieces to be consumed.
Speaking presents another set of difficulties. Sometimes speech is clear, particularly on the phone, no one can detect that I have a problem. At other times, speech is somewhat garbled. The lisp is quite pronounced and words flow meaninglessly into each other. My mother has the hardest time trying to understand what I am saying and at times, having to deal with my frustration when she does not follow my train of thought and I have to repeat, several times, what I just said.
Teaching is now a distant memory. Only on Friday 30th January, I received a message from the Ministry of education asking me to come in to their office to sign a document concerning retirement on medical grounds. Do I miss teaching? I really do not. I loved teaching. I loved the children and interacting with them. I loved being able to help others as a teacher. Having visited the school officially for the first time, two weeks ago, my perspective is clear.
I was invited to one of their prize-giving functions. I was well received by staff, students and parents. Everyone was affable, especially the ones who had been my sworn enemies before the shooting. One of my colleagues, who had taught with me for the most years, almost brought me to tears with her kind gesture of an embrace and what appeared to be genuine joy on seeing me well. It is not as though they could not attempt to visit me during the past two years.
Anyway, although I spent all day with them and the camaraderie they displayed was almost compelling, at the end of the day I was yearning to be out. I left school that day secure in the knowledge that I had made the right decision. My purpose and outlook of life have changed.
Financially the situation seems to be bleak. However, there is opportunity for growth. I am in the process of attempting to build my knowledge base and skills set. Faith is my reassurance that all will be well.
Psychologically, there will always be scars. But a scar does not indicate that there is no healing rather a scar is a reminder that there was hurt but it has healed. Some heal with minimal residual evidence while others heal with keloids, raised bumpy scars which are constant reminders of past trauma. My scars have healed physically with keloids but psychologically the healing is two dimensional. Some wounds were so deep that I still feel the pain of their injury, as if they were inflicted yesterday. Other wounds were only just below the surface, producing vague tingling under stress.
My family has been tremendously supportive. My mother, my brothers and my son have stood solidly by my side. I could not have wanted for a better support base. This is something that all of us need – a good support base. Some have family. Some have friends. If you do not have such a support system, then now is a good time to start working on developing relationships to build one. Its significance may only be appreciated in crisis, to those who tend to be loners. I know because I was a loner myself.
I miss my independence. I truly l miss it. This is the one aspect that is particularly distressing to me. I live with family now, so I have to be considerate of their schedule. I no longer have a car, so I depend on them for transport. I have to make an appointment to spend time with myself at my own home so that I can have the solitude that I so deeply cherish. Don’t misunderstand me – I love the family time now but I still need to have my alone time… for my sanity and for reflection.
Every aspect of my life has been disrupted by this cold-hearted attempt to put an end to my life. Every nerve, muscle, sinew and cell of my body screams out for help to understand why it has happened. And yet… deep within my heart and soul, I accept that it has happened; perhaps that it even was destined to happen. This acceptance has brought with it the ability to move past the trauma; it has highlighted a need to forge forward stronger than before. Such acceptance and fortitude I attribute completely to the grace of God and His unconditional love.
There are those who value their intellectual capacity to such an extent that they are unwilling to relinquish the reins of control of their destiny to some higher being. They claim that to do that is the coward’s way out. They believe that only those, in possession of a less perspicacious encephalon, would need to rely on another entity or would believe in an eternity.
I have come directly in the presence of God. Even before I did, I believed in Him and had submitted my will to His. During the months before the vicious attack, there were some moments of intense trauma that I have yet to come to terms I with; times that I have never spoken about. I could not have made it through those times without the protection of God.
Having been praying for the life of another, asking for God’s intervention in the life of another, even at the expense of that friendship, I am of the belief that God stepped in on my behalf when an attempt was made on my life. My purpose was incomplete. God was not ready for me at that time.
Being in God’s presence has strengthened my faith and renewed my faltering spirit. I live my life now, secure that there is a God and confident of where I want to spend eternity. To fail to pursue Him now would deny me of that opportunity of being in His presence forever. That is not a chance I want to take. My life, as I told you, has changed. I will seek God and His purpose to the very end, with the hope that one day I will be fit to be with Him.
As the scripture says, embrace suffering, for suffering develops perseverance and perseverance builds character; character instils hope and hope cannot be disappointed because of the love of God.
How have you chosen to live? Do you believe in your autonomy or do you believe in God? How do you think you would have coped in a situation such as mine, where you were shot and left fighting for your life? Is there anything you would like to find out about this incident in my life? If there is anything I can shed some light on for you, I would gladly do so, just drop me a line and let me know. You may either leave a comment or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for being part of my extended support base.