how to not die: the missing piece

Still reposting my rock-climbing accident story. This is part four, where I talk about something many people are often surprised by — you.


Ten years ago today (January 25, 2003), I fell 80 feet (24 meters) while rock climbing at T-Wall, a popular climbing site in Tennessee. The doctors said I might not live; when I did, they said I’d never be the same again. Today, not only am I “normal,” most people don’t even know this incident ever happened. This is part four of my story. (To read parts one, two, or three, click here, here, or here.)

mp 2


For an audio recording, click here:

There’s a piece of my story that’s missing
the piece that is all about you.
It’s the piece that I’ve struggled the most with
the piece so many assume true.
I recovered from my accident eventually.
My rehab is on the next page.
But what of my soul, of “God‘s purpose”?
What is it that I…

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5 thoughts

  1. You made me cry. It’s interesting, but not terribly surprising that your travels have shaped you more than the accident. It happened to change someone’s life, just not yours. Many years ago, a friend and I were riding motorcycles in South Africa. He was hit by a car, critically injured with massive blood loss, etc. As I was trying to comfort him, waiting for help to arrive, he saw that I was a mess, and this extraordinary person said to me, “Stop crying. This is for me, not you.” And I immediately knew what he meant. Today he is healthy and happy, but that was the defining moment in his life, much like it most likely was for your family, if not for you.

    • Wow, Miles. I’m so glad my words touched you… What your friend said is interesting, though. “This is for me, not you…” In some ways, I feel my accident was for both my family and I, though it truly affected us in different ways. For my family, they saw the fragility of life, and how easily I could have been lost. For me… I guess I saw my fragility, but… Again, I didn’t witness the struggle. If I’d died, to me, I simply never would have woken up…

      Obviously now I’m glad I *did* wake up, but yes. As far as life perspective goes, my time abroad changed my worldview so much more than a mere brush with death…

      I’m so glad your friend is okay. I would love to hear more about Africa.

      • Jessica, there were a few things I forgot to say in my original comment: You’re a grotesquely talented writer (yes, that’s a compliment – my highest!) Also, you’re an extraordinary person, based on my view through the little window you open to your soul. And your poetry is, without question, as good as any I have ever read.
        South Africa was truly amazing; the people are truly amazing. The accident happened in Swaziland and, they also were amazing. I’m sure you would agree that any particular is great, if it is, because of its people. I simply can’t say enough about the generosity, the strength of spirit, the resilience, and the innate kindness shown by this people, who, for all intents and purposes, have every right to be bitter and unforgiving. Oops, I have to run, but will tell you more later.

      • Hi again, Myles, and I need to apologize for misspelling your name earlier!

        One of my coworkers in Hong Kong spent 25 years teaching in Africa. Her stories of the scenery and the amazing people there are much the same as you’ve described. I certainly hope to make it there someday.

        And thank you so much for the compliments on my writing. I’ve got a poem coming up that I think many will enjoy… If I can just work the rest of it out!

        Best to you. I hope you’re having a great weekend!
        :) Jessica

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