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A Humbling Transition That Changed my Life

Updated on August 4, 2011

Transitions With the Tides

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I was almost seventeen years old and thought of as a football hero in my school by many of my classmates. I had come up through the grades and excelled at all sports and impressed my coaches everywhere I went. My grades were average at the time. I spent more time on the ball fields than I did studying as I should have done back then. My father was very proud of my abilities in sports, and was at all of my practice sessions. I seemed to be living a charmed life that every high school young man dreams about. Suddenly, one day near the end of a football practice session, my pride was turned to anguish, and the life I once had came to a grinding halt.

I was tackled by a much larger player than myself and he seemed to take out his frustrations on me as he delivered an excruciating blow to my back. From there I was transported to the local hospital and then a long period of guilt and regret was experienced by me over what had happened. I suffered mightily over the next few weeks and had to return to a doctor for further investigation of my injury. I was soon referred to a neurologist who did x-rays and found that I had suffered three ruptured discs in my lower spine. I was soon readied for a dangerous operation in which my parents were told that I might not walk again after it was done. I underwent the surgery and after a long rehabilitation process filled with much pain and stress, I finally made it back to my classes in school. Over the next year I found that the once popular ball player had few true friends that really stuck by me. I was shunned by my fellow players and classmates, as well as the coaches who had high hopes in my becoming one of their stars that attended a famous college and gave them more notoriety. I now was a fallen star and looked upon as a has been who did not need to be recognized at my school.

I was stressed out and soon took on behavior of a person with severe mental problems. I kept to myself a lot and became very shy and could not even read aloud without stuttering and my voice breaking, as was required in some of my classes. Some of my teachers were more understanding and two of my friends stuck by me for the rest of high school. Some of the girls that I had dated in the past were puzzled as to why I no longer was more social. Somehow, with the help of my parents and a few understanding adults, i managed to enter my senior year on a more positive note and with more self reliance. My last year in school was spent more on studying and upon graduation, I was more stable and stronger emotionally. I was preparing to go to school in Florida and spent the summer with a couple of my friends at a nearby gas station. We were watching a ball game on T.V. there and suddenly a loud blast and extreme heat filled the station. Suddenly two workers, who had also been our friends, burst into the room with their clothing on fire. We were shocked and my friend and I chased after the boys who were on fire and tried to stop them from running. We knew that they needed to have the flames smothered and I took off my shirt and tried to beat out the flames that seemed to engulf one of our friends. My former classmate was able to tackle the other worker and helped put out the fire covering his body. Despite our efforts, both friends died on the way to the hospital that day. We found out that they had been using gasoline to clean the racks and that the owner of the station had tried to advise them not to use this method. Upon sudden ignition, both workers were engulfed all over their bodies and little could have been done to prevent serious injury or death. I felt horrible about the deaths and I will always feel that this tragedy led me to give my life in helping young people in need. I later became a school teacher of special needs kids and remained in the field for more than twenty-five years.

Gradually, as I spent more time helping others, I gained much more confidence in myself and advanced to higher levels in college with four degrees and a lot of pride and joy in my chosen field of work. In a way, I felt that I was actually chosen and that I had not made this decision myself. The humility and self confidence that I had learned over the years has made me feel much gratification. I now realize that some times our lives are changed in the long run, for the better. Although it may seem as if at times disaster has taken charge of our lives, we must never give up hope and keep trying to make things better. It has been a long and wonderful education that I have been given and the opportunity to experience it has made me feel that my life has been lived with a good purpose, filled with my love and sharing.


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    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 20 months ago from United States

      From time to time I re-read a hub written a few years ago. It reminds me of who I am.

    • brewskitimeguy profile image

      brewskitimeguy 6 years ago from Maine

      excellant hub...filled with thoughful life experiences

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      whonunuwho – I agree wholeheartedly with you: When bad things happen to us we can for a long time not see the purpose of it, but the time always come when we realize it was lessons we had to learn in order to become who/what we are. I believe pain is merely a fertilizer; without it we cannot grow. I am sure you are today a pillar of strength for many. Thanks for sharing your story – it testifies the ability of people to grow in spite of being afflicted with horrible shocks and pain. Take care!