A Note From Janis
It has been a few years now since the life-altering experience of losing my hands and legs. In addition to my own personal journey, the entire family went through unimaginable agonies, starting with the daily life or death uncertainties of the first weeks I was in hospital. Yet even those weeks saw a tightening of family strength in ways that perhaps only trauma can bring about. So we, as a family, are truly thankful for all the miracles, large and small, that have grown out of our experience.
I was asked to comment on the ways in which life is different now from the first couple years and the looking back always takes me by surprise - at just how many changes there are, with such great strides, interspersed with the inevitable bumps in the road. Overall, the greatest change, for which I am the most thankful, is the relative normalcy of life now, something that was hard to imagine the first year or so. Contributing to this normalcy are things that range from the minor-sounding mastering of putting on eyeliner and mascara without hands (!), to the major independence of being able to put my prosthetic legs on by myself, which the doctors and Prosthetists assured me I would never be able to do. (And therein lies one of the things I’ve grown more and more thankful for ... flat-out stubbornness!)
When the Taher family (all of us - not just the few with that last name) puts on thanksgiving dinner at Abbott Hospital, for staff and families of patients, there is a recurring theme among those who join us: it’s about their realizing that someone cares enough about them to show up, to spend time with them at a time that is typically spent with family. For the nurses and doctors who were with us from the beginning, they talk about loving to see the yearly progress I’ve made and the full-on living of someone who’s life literally hung in the balance, in their hands. And for the patients’ families who join us, they are simply thankful for the gesture of compassion and for a really delicious meal at a time they least expected it.
I believe that everyone who has experienced the impact of giving, who has felt the joy of simply being able to share something with someone who is in need, knows what it means to be truly thankful.