Just a few days ago, on May 31st, I opened my facebook after my daily routine of meditation and prayer, and the first post I saw on my news feed was that of my artist friend Aaron Paquette. Aaron is an amazing local First Nations artist, story teller and teacher from Edmonton, Alberta, who's work I respect deeply. We've connected only a couple of times but enough for me to know his soul. Strong, wise beyond his years, and compassionate.
By way of Aaron's facebook post, I learned that the previous night his beautiful, strong, young wife Clarice, had been in an accident involving two vehicles and a pedestrian. She was the pedestrian. (I've added his post as well as an update at the end of this blog for those who are reading and are unaware).
Life as this young couple knew it, changed in an instant that night. It changed for other people too. Me included. I cried that day for them and I prayed and have not stopped since I learned of their fate. I've never met Clarice or their one year old son Liam, but have come to know them through this journey on which Aaron is humbly and vulnerably taking us along via his facebook updates.
Creator works in mysterious ways and I believe has chosen Aaron and Clarice as powerful teachers in so many ways. Sometimes in our humanness (word? I don't know but I use it alot ;-)) we feel that life is not fair and we play the victim for too long, which ultimately hardens our hearts. While it's understandable to slip into that way of thinking at times, the path to true healing and strength comes from keeping the faith and trusting in a bigger plan for our lives. This is what I see Aaron and Clarice doing. They were both teachers prior to this accident. Clarice a school teacher and Aaron a teacher through his amazing paintings and writing. They have now become teachers to a wider audience and from an even higher spiritual place.
Clarice has been chosen to show us all what the power of love and prayer can do, as she continues to respond physically to the energy being sent her way by literally thousands of people. Showing us all, including the medical community, that miracles can happen. Aaron has been chosen to teach us that taking the high road by keeping the faith and humbly requesting our prayers and assistance that he has turned what some would call a tragedy, into a love story. His willingness and ability to communicate his family's heartfelt and very personal journey through words has brought thousands of people together in spirit.
He had a choice. He could have been angry and bitter, blaming people and even God, but he didn't. Just one day after the accident in one of his heartfelt posts he said "To the drivers, be at peace. We all make mistakes. Sometimes small things turn into big things in the blink of an eye. There are consequences, but there shouldn't be demonization. Use this moment and all moments after to strengthen your community. There will be a price to be paid, just make sure it's worth it. Again, none of us will ever live a faultless life." This doesn't mean that he will never feel anger about what has happened, that's a very important step in the process of healing. It does mean that he is not going to condemn these drivers, he has made the choice to use this entire process to learn and teach.
That, my friends, is taking the high road in life. Taking lemons and making lemonade as the saying goes, but this is not 'saying', it's 'doing'. Aaron understands that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. That experience may not go the way we think it's going to go, or how we had it mapped out. It's going to go how it goes. It is what we choose to do with the hand we're dealt that shapes our lives and the lives of others.
Aaron has shown us that it is okay to show our vulnerability by sharing our pain and asking for help. I believe that is one of the hardest lessons some of us humans have come here to learn. How to receive. Social media is such a powerful force when used in a positive way. Thousands of people from all over the world have been reaching out on facebook and extending their love and prayers, becoming a huge part of this family's healing journey. We are together witnessing the power of love.
This story is one we can use as an opportunity to get perspective on our own lives. It has the ability to pull us out of self absorption and put ourselves to better use by way of sending love and prayers to another human being who is worse off than us today. It has the ability to change an habitual careless, impatient driver into a more responsible, caring and patient driver. It has the ability to make us stop complaining about things and be grateful instead. It has the ability to change us if we choose. It's changed me.
It is customary among many Native traditions to dance for those who can't, sing for those who can't, eat for those who can't. I dance, sing, eat, and walk for others on a regular basis. It has been between myself and Creator until now that I do this. I'm telling you not to seek credit, but in hopes that you too will dance for Clarice, walk for Clarice, do yoga for Clarice, until she is strong enough to do it for herself again. Whether you follow a particular religion or maybe have been on the fence about what to believe, please pray today and in the coming months....it's working.
While he has expressed repeatedly that prayers are worth more than money, they will still greatly benefit only if you are able. The following link will take you to the donation link on his website http://www.aaronpaquette.net/?page_id=924 , while you're there, cruise through the gallery of Aaron's amazing artwork and soak up the beauty, and maybe even purchase yourself one of his powerful art pieces.
***********sharing two of Aaron's facebook posts...his first and his latest*************
POSTED May 31, 2012
"On Wednesday May 30, 9:10pm a body was shattered.
The body was that of my dear wife. She was just finishing up an evening jog with a friend when she was struck by a vehicle. It hit her and then ran over her, pinning her body beneath one of the tires.
Her friend was screaming at the driver but he was unaware there was anybody beneath the car.
Police and Emergency Medical personnel lifted the car from off her.
I was not yet aware of any of this as I was at home. Our 1 year old baby asleep in his crib.
Backtracking events leads us to the road snaking through our neighbourhood (she was only a few blocks from home), and a yield sign that was mostly ignored.
A car and an SUV had a contest of who could be more impatient, or who could text best while driving. Exactly what was going on in the two drivers’ minds I doubt we’ll ever know. But lack of concern, lack of precaution led to the accident. That we do know.
When I arrived on the scene there were dozens of people who had poured from their houses to see what was the matter. Emergency vehicles were on scene and my wife was in an ambulance.
She was alive. I asked her if she knew me and where she was. She looked into my eyes and blinked twice. Her whole body was shaking from the shock.
That’s when I noticed her wrist was snapped in half.
Her face was bloody and beginning to swell.
A couple of hours ago, after a long night of tears and waiting, we found out the rest. And there will be more to come.
Deep cuts, contusions and road rash all over her body and across her stomach.
All her ribs are broken.
There are tubes draining the blood that is gathering between her ribcage and her lungs.
Her liver and pancreas are lacerated.
Along with her wrist are broken fingers. This is her left arm. She is left handed.
She has fractured vertebrae. The worst is the T11. It’s obliterated. They will fuse the vertebrae around it with metal plates. There will metal plates holding her wrist together.
She will live.
She has many surgeries ahead and a long road to recovery. It’s uncertain yet if there will be any loss of limb function or if there will be any long term effects from concussion.
She will not be snuggling with our baby for a very long time. She won’t be doing any of the things she loves.
She loves to teach. She has a grade 3/4 split class. She was so excited to get back to them after her maternity leave and now she won’t be back for a very long time.
She loves to run. She was going to run a half marathon in two weeks.
She loves yoga.
She loves dancing.
She loves playing with the baby.
Right now she has tubes all over her, keeping her still, sedated, and alive.
Because someone couldn’t wait three seconds at a yield sign.
Because someone wasn’t paying attention as they drove a 1500 pound weapon.
I’m writing this to let everyone who is going to ask know what happened.
But I am also writing it to ask everyone who reads this to realize that as you scan these words someone is performing surgery on my beautiful darling.
Please slow down.
Please don’t text.
Please be patient.
And please remember that every time you sit in that car you take responsibility for lives you will never know except in passing. Literally.
Pass by. Pass by. Be aware and pass by.
And please, pray for my wife and especially for our little one who already misses his mommy.
We are blessed.
She is alive.
Please share this. Please let this horrific night make difference and save lives.
Please slow down and drive safe."
POSTED JUNE 3, 2012
"Through the morphine and the pain I have been reading your heart felt messages to Clarice. She fades in and out of sleep but wants to hear them all.
She wrote this out on a tablet screen today and I wanted to share it with you.
Your prayers have overwhelmed us. They have overwhelmed the medical staff. Her wounds are healing so quickly. They took an X-ray today and tomorrow will see if she can take a few steps!!
My whole life I will never be able to repay your kindness.
You have changed our family for the better and I am a changed man today.
I will try to live a life worthy of your prayers.
God bless you.
God bless you
You have given us so much light it is shining out of her skin. She looks more beautiful than I can describe.
God Bless you."