June the third, 1967; the day disaster struck and tore my life apart.
Rain splashes against the windscreen. I wipe the fog off the inside; the wipers push the water on the outside. Visibility is poor; so are my young driving skills.
Suddenly bright red lights fill the windscreen. The car in front! It's stopping! Fast! I make a fateful mistake and slam my brakes! My car slides into the oncoming lane and becomes the perfect target for a large truck.
Bang! I'm airborne and turning in the air.
The next thing I know, I'm lying on my back beside the wreck. The rain now splashes on my face; not the windscreen. But the pain in my right leg makes it insignificant.
Flashing red lights and sirens punctuate my every thought as they race me to emergency surgery. Everything becomes an unreal blur for three days. The horror I wake up to is very real. My right leg is gone. Cut off in the accident.
Two constant things race each other around my mind. The first is, "I'll never walk again! Heck, I'll never walk, run, climb or even drive." This fills me with despair and anger.
The second is, "How can it hurt so much when it isn't there?"
The next six months are filled with agony. Skin grafts and repeat operations still leave the stump of my right leg ugly and the sight of it makes me sick to the stomach. What's even worse is that all the doctors and operations in the world are never going to repair my life.
Anger and hatred burn within. I hate God, I hate myself and for four long years I hate everybody in the world. Most of all, I hate 'The Thump'; the name I give to my artificial leg.
I despise the thumping sound it makes and I want to throw it into a fire. Burn it and urinate on the pile of ash it leaves behind. But it is me that now gets burnt in a fire, not the leg.
Susan is the first one to take me by surprise. I walk into the meeting hall to be greeted by, "Hello. Thump. Are we feeling any better today?"
In our last group therapy session, like a big mouthed fool, I'd spoken about my hatred for everything artificial; and particularly one certain limb. Susan confronted me about self pity and told me to grow up and get on with life.
It is easy to hate Susan.
I glare at her. She is actually very good looking, but I really want to smack her in the mouth.
“Come on, Thump. Smile for heaven’s sake. That smash could have taken a lot more than your leg.”
“It did! And don’t call me Thump.”
“Actually, the smash only took the leg. Anything else you lose is taken by you; you and the choices you make from here on in.”
“Rubbish! You try to run with a wooden leg. You kick a soccer ball, go caving or climb a mountain with a lump of timber. See how you go!”
“Well, now that you mention it, I was wondering what you’re doing this weekend. I thought we’d go for a picnic and I wanted to share some stuff with you about something called the Refiner’s Fire.”
“You and your God crap! When are you going to realize I don’t give a hoot. The big fraud’s never done anything for me.”
“You met me didn’t you?”
“Hasn’t anybody ever told you that women don’t chase men?”
“Many times. But you won’t chase me. Not while your life is controlled by that leg of yours. And besides; that leg also means you can’t run away too fast either.”
For the first time Susan’s smile penetrates my false tower of unapproachability and starts to crumble my defenses.
We go on that picnic and she does tell me all about God and what He is doing in my life; even through the times that I hate Him and blame Him. She teaches me many things from this point on; especially how to go through the Refiner's Fire.
Susan has been my wife for forty two years now. And even though modern advances mean that my artificial leg is very silent, she still lovingly calls me Thump.
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