My wife and I took our daughter to our favorite park for the first time today. We had a wonderful time watching her play with friends and run wild. I ended up running into someone I kind of knew through a photography group on Facebook. She was there with her husband and daughter. Her daughter was just a couple years old and really beautiful. Her husband looked relatively young, handsome and healthy, except that he was in a wheelchair.
She told me that he’d only been in the wheelchair for a year and that he’d broken his backbone in a mountain biking accident. She said he would never walk again without a real miracle. I watched him playing with his little girl on the other side of the playground. He was staying as close to her as he could, encouraging her and making sure that she was polite to the other children, and I wondered how much he must have enjoyed playing with her in her first year of life. 1 year olds are fun to play with, but it’s actually just around 1.5 years that they can really play hard. His accident was bad enough in and of itself, but the timing must have made it all even more heartbreaking and frustrating.
For a father who so obviously adores his little girl to not be able to play with her freely… I can only begin to imagine the kind of regret, frustration, and sadness he must feel. I felt an inkling of it myself just watching him. The fact that such a thing hasn’t happened to me doesn’t give me a whole lot of comfort. Instead, I find myself imagining and dwelling on all of the heartbreaking and terrible things that happen to people every day. Of course, these things should make me feel thankful for my own good health and fortunate circumstances, and I do. It just doesn’t make the sadness go away.