I laid in a hospital bed, my left leg full of metal screws and one long metal rod (for which I had earned the nickname “The Terminator” a few hours earlier).
With four broken ribs, I couldn’t even chuckle when the nurse told me I should take up running.
My blue hospital gown, while incredibly flattering, left me cold. I pushed the button for the nurse and in walked my surgeon. “I happened to be on your floor and thought I’d check on you,” he said.
“Well, that’s an easier fix than the leg,” he smiled. “Anything else?”
“I’m miserable. And pissed off. But with regards to you and your job, no.”
“You know, Erin? Everything happens for a reason.”
I didn’t answer him. I stared with eyes that made it clear I wasn’t buying any inspirational messages today. He patted my good leg, handed me an extra blanket, and walked out.
We tend to mess up that idea that everything happens for a reason. We think that in the midst of cherry Jell-O and chicken broth served on cafeteria trays, we have to see the reason for there to have been one. I can assure you that after breaking my leg, four ribs, and earning a worthy concussion in a boating accident on the very day I intended to break up with my boyfriend who was driving said boat, I was not lying in the hospital’s non-slip socks believing any of this happened for a good reason. I was in pain, I was scared, and I could no longer break up with my boyfriend because frankly, the timing seemed ridiculous.
I wasn’t a bad woman being punished. I was never interested in finding out what a femur break looked or felt like up close. I didn’t even like boating! “There is no good reason for this,” I repeated to myself.
I couldn’t see it. Not yet.
You probably don’t ever see 90 percent of your own close calls and near misses that happen for a reason. That acceptance letter to one college when the other got lost in the mail. That car accident three minutes after your green light. Missing a doctor’s appointment on a day someone else desperately needed a last-minute one. But that college was all wrong for you! The accident would have been more serious than it actually was if it had been your little car that got T-boned! And while you may be pissed off you missed the appointment, you might have been thrilled to learn that you actually saved someone else’s life that day. You won’t ever know, of course. So somehow, you’re going to have to trust that life is, in fact, always happening for a reason—and always in your best interest.
I know. You don’t believe me. I didn’t believe me either, not in the hospital. I didn’t believe it until I was given the gift of seeing the reasons slowly over time.
If you’re ever given the whole story later, with all the “whys” answered—that, my friends, is actually a major life bonus.
I didn’t find out the fun way that my boat-loving boyfriend would actually become my husband two years later. I’d been asking for a husband who adored me, nurtured me, and provided for me. And there, right there in the boat, he was smiling at me when we collided with a tree (quite by accident). He turned out to be the man who quit his job, rented a house near mine, and helped with my rehabilitation every day for three months until I was well enough to walk on my own again.
I never would have experienced him adoring me, nurturing me, or providing for me in any better way—a way that convinced me he was the man I’d been asking for.
I can’t explain to you why it couldn’t have been a rough bout of flu or a particularly brutal allergy season that kept us together. I don’t know. But I am certain that this was the path of least resistance toward getting me to see and recognize my husband, right there in front of me, in the flesh.
And if I had to do it all over again? That’s right. I’d get back in the boat.
It does all happen for a reason. Most of the reasons aren’t ever revealed. Besides, if they were, we’d be exhausted all the time. That’s why we’ve got to flex our trust muscle. We don’t have to be happy eating the hospital Jell-O. We don’t even have to break a bone. We just have to be curious and trust that someday, it will all come together.
And man, will you be dazzled when it does.
Author: Erin Salem
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Kenni Linden