March 19, 2013

My Point Is...The roller coaster ride of life

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Labeling myself as a “comparative” learner, I utilize that skill both on the job and in life. I often have to compare one situation or experience to something with which I am familiar in order to fully comprehend the new topic.

My own life, I have decided, is comparative to a roller coaster ride. There are the slow, jerky starts that eventually end with a smoother, more coordinated stop.

The past couple of weeks have demonstrated just how similar they truly are.

One morning began on a bad note and the day got progressively worse. The slow jerky beginning of that day had only a brief plateau before hitting a sharp and unexpected curve. After dealing with that situation, I assumed that another plateau awaited me, but in the true spirit of a roller coaster ride, I hit a steep incline that made left me with the strong urge to put my hands around a few necks and shake some sense into the persons they were unfortunately connected to.

The rush of adrenaline during the decline of the roller coaster ride was again challenged during a week off work, celebrated by the Chamber of Commerce annual banquet and awards program — an event I always enjoy immensely. Good company, great entertainment, delicious food, and my own favorite — the silent auction — are the drawing factors to this community oriented occasion that also awards three local teachers with a $1,000 check for their dedication to educating our youth. Honors to the business volunteer of the year and the volunteer of the year also highlight the many benefits which our Chamber offers to the business community.

The evening’s glory was subdued, however, when I checked my Facebook page later that night and learned that my cousin’s husband and daughter had been injured in a crash in Pulaski County, just about the time I was celebrating with my friends and co-workers. The father and daughter had crashed into a wooden fence and both were in critical condition. While Jimmy Jasper suffered several severe bone fractures, 12-year-old Jaden had been struck in the forehead by the fence, was unconscious and on life support. First believed to have severe brain damage, the seventh grade student continues to show signs of improvement. Although her eyesight in one eye may be permanently damaged, responsiveness to touch and sound have improved and the many prayers for this child have proven worthwhile.

The roller coaster ride hit another unexpected and breath-taking curve. I almost felt guilty for enjoying the fellowship with our Chamber members while my family was experiencing such life-changing turmoil.

Like the excitement and apprehension depicted by the popular amusement park favorite, my own course of action flip-flopped constantly over the next few days. Exhilaration at times of good news fluctuated when less positive reports were received. Emotions ranged from spontaneous prayers for my family members to tears of grief for their trials.

I held my own 12-year-old granddaughter tightly one night as she dozed off to sleep, thinking of my cousins who could not hold their grandchild due to the many machines that were then keeping her alive. And despite the trials that I have faced with my own children and grandchildren, I am thankful that none have been to the magnitude that the Jasper and Miller families of Somerset continue to face.

Sometimes it takes those curves, jerks, turns and screeching stops to realize that life’s journey is indeed brief and filled with unexpected events that range from exhilaration to disappointment in a matter of seconds. While we may be familiar with the overall view, there is always some perk that makes each ride and each day unique.

As of this writing, Jimmy Jasper is beginning physical therapy and has been released from the hospital. Jaden, his daughter, was scheduled for reconstructive surgery on Friday afternoon to repair a crushed left eye socket and cheekbone as well as the multiple fractures to her forehead. Updates on the progress of this brave young girl can be followed on Facebook on the Prayers for Jaden page.

The roller coaster ride of life is indeed unpredictable, even when the route is familiar. Those twists and turns can throw out some devastating challenges. It’s all in how we deal with them during the ride that determines whether the final stop is a pleasant one or not.