No Complaints

S. Hoffman Archives

My grandparents, Elwon and Dorothea Hoffman, members of the Detroit Motorcycle Club. Circa 1941

It was late July, the sun hadn’t quite set and in the sky was perched a blue moon.

My Harley rumbled calmly beneath me as I leisurely made my way home. Things were peaceful. It had been an uneventful ride and I had only a few miles left to go; by now, my thoughts had settled into the methodic rhythm of rubber rolling on pavement.

I have no memory of the hour that followed, when the deer hit the side of my bike. My mind, it seems, has spared me the tragic imagery of the moment. Instead I only have memories of the peculiar time when I was allowed access to my subconscious mind, and I will never forget what I saw and felt while there. But this post is about the celebration of life, and in that moment of subconsciousness it was revealed to me that our physical body is merely the small tip of the iceberg as to who we are. I peeked at the vastness that rests under the water; the sight of which, has forever changed my outlook on life.

When I was forced into consciousness it was told to me that my brain was hemorrhaging and that I broke numerous bones; some of which, the surgeon revealed, are near impossible to break. I broke that particular impossible to break bone – twice. He was amazed. I didn’t know what to think.

I remember while recovering, sitting in the office of my orthopedic surgeon. He disclosed to me that never before had he encountered a patient with so much injury that didn’t complain. I had, after all, twelve or so broken bones all along my left side. He then asked about my pain. I was thrown a bit by his question, but as is always the case, I offered a very sincere answer. I said, “Yes, I’m in horrific pain. But I almost died. So, the way I see it is, I have two choices, to be alive but in pain – or dead and feel no pain at all.”

He sat quiet for a moment, then said he sees people with a lot less damage, yet all they do is complain. I don’t know about them, but I know about me. And I was given a gift – the gift of life. I was allowed to see my kids another day, and hopefully for many after that. And I knew that if I could only push through the pain, I’d one day emerge: healed and whole. Reminders of that accident can still be found on my body. But I don’t mind. They remind me that I was given a second chance. So no – I have no complaints.

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