Every week, I go to the gym with Edivan. Over the past year, we've developed a routine: Edivan's wife will pull to the curb and he'll open the door. Face the curb. Left foot down. Right foot down. Stand up straight. Right foot onto the sidewalk. Left foot onto the sidewalk.
Two years ago, Edivan was attacked and suffered severe brain damage. Doctors didn't think he would live, but he did. Then they said he would never walk, but he did that too. Before he got hurt, Edivan played semi-pro soccer, running, jumping and doing backflips.
These days, our celebrations are rather mundane in comparison: "Last week at the park, Edivan jumped!" or "Edivan stood on one foot for two seconds today!" The humor that Edivan and I share is often bittersweet: "I'm getting fat," he'll joke. "Yeah, when are you gonna get your six-pack back?" I'll ask. "One day…"
He says that sometimes. When we watch people lifting weights, he'll point at them: "One day." "When are you gonna do a backflip again Edivan?" "One day."
Most weeks, I don't really think about these things, about Edivan lying in a coma or relearning how to walk and swallow or how long it will take for him to play soccer again. Usually all I think about on Fridays is how early I have to wake up and whether or not Edivan is leaning too far to his left when he walks. But every once in awhile, I step back and think about the man in front of me and it hits me: what a miracle it is to simply walk, breathe and swallow, what a joy it is to be alive. But those moments fade. And eventually I get back on the eternal treadmill of to-do lists and emails and somehow creating more clutter trying to unclutter my life.
I hope that one day I'll be able to find joy in every step, to celebrate things like standing on one foot for two seconds, to be present to every one of God's miracles.
I hope one day I am as alive as Edivan is.
With a Perspective, I'm Nate Lee.
Nate Lee is a residential counselor at a shelter in San Francisco.