Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Soul Surfing

This post isn't "Dale's leg amputation story" (although I will get to that someday). We watched the movie Soul Surfer tonight and I thought I'd post a few thoughts about it while it was fresh in my mind. First of all, it was an inspiring, feel-good movie. Dale was born in Hawaii and we love the beauty (and feel, and smell, and TASTE) of the islands. But Dale didn't enjoy the movie. 

It's been 19 years since he lost his leg (in a motorcycle accident) and a lot of the details have faded with time. This movie brought many of them back. Some of the pain points were obvious to me, others were more personal to him. When Helen Hunt (the mom) receives a phone call and then speeds towards the hospital, I felt that. Following the ambulance to the emergency room, not knowing if your loved one will live or die, well yeah, I felt that too. Watching as Bethany (lying in the hospital bed) reaches over to where her arm should be, only to feel the void, well that's worse in real life.

After "the accident" Dale picked himself up and carried on, playing in a paintball tournament (on crutches) just three weeks later (ignoring the ooze of the wound). Then a couple months later he wore his "first prosthetic" for a softball tournament. He had been pitching from a wheelchair, but for the championship game he really wanted to stand on his own (without crutches), so he duct taped a 2 by 4 to his stump and pitched the game "on two legs."

Life does go on. And yet life is never the same, for the disabled or their loved ones. Dale has become an expert at explaining his "robot leg" to kids in the grocery store, but no one in our family gets used watching him suffer through very real "phantom" pains.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that sometimes it takes a movie to remind you of what a gift life is. And sometimes all it takes is watching your husband put on his leg in the morning.

Our little family in the hospital

Upright for the first time

Longing for his brother's leg
Stitches ready to come out


  1. You are both an inspiration. When something big like that happens in your life you have to pick yourself up and carry on. Easy to say, not easy to do and many people fail. Your blog, although short, was a real kick up the bum for me - thank you x

  2. I love your blog. The humor, the reality, so good. I'm a soldier and have seen this happen to so many great men. I've learned that though this type of injury can expose the very best in us, it's often painful to get to that point.

    Thank you for sharing, and thank you both for being a source of light and humor.

  3. I'm really very interested in learning more about amputation. My son who is four years old has had problems with his left leg since birth. We've had a lot of surgeries and I'm concerned that one day the doctor will want to amputate. I write about my struggles and his wonderful, strong spirit on my blog. "Some Crazy Things" is a recent post where I talk about the pain I'm sure he has and my worries over amputation.

  4. Help - I wanted to look at each of the photos - but when I went to Day 1 - it says that I can click on the photo to make it larger...but there was no photo..just lots of comments. Do you have each photo? I'm a French teacher and wanted to use your photos to generate discussion:
    mariacochrane@gmail.com for a response, please

  5. We really appreciate your generosity in sharing your life with us. Thanks :-)

  6. Thank you for the honesty. So many of us have no idea what it is like and your post really helped me understand.I can't wait for the movie and I really can't wait for the resurrection.

  7. I still use some of the moves he taught me in basketball.

  8. I started reading your blog last year as a fellow parent who embarrasses her 11 year old by hugging, kissing and waving goodbye to him every morning, :) it was nice to see other parents who love their kids enough to embarrass them, as well. But what really moved me enough to comment on this post was that in every one of these photos of your husband, he has this huge smile on his face. Someone who can smile like that through something so difficult is really an inspiring and amazing person. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Oh may.. You're such an inspiration. I love the fact that you used humor in order to come out of the not-so-easy situation you were in (I loled at the robot leg remark :)

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  10. I discovered your blog via Pinterest. This post resonated with me when I read it. In the fall of my freshman year of high school, my grandfather lost his leg due to his diabetes. Unfortunately, we lost him three weeks later. Two years ago this past August, my aunt lost her leg the same way. Luckily, she made it through and now has a prosthetic leg. It's been a rough road watching all of this happen over the past 8 or so years, but it's also made me realize how precious life is and how it can change so suddenly.

    Also, great costumes! Can't wait too see what the Halloween set up looks like this year!