Several months after I was mugged, stabbed, and left unconscious along the shoulder of Washington’s Highway 2, a friend asked me what being stabbed felt like. I told her it hurt.
Really, how do you describe pain? Sometimes doctors ask us to rate our pain on a scale from one to ten, as if that number had some reliable meaning. In my opinion there needs to be a more objective rating system, something comparative; like, would you trade what you’re feeling for a root canal or maybe half a childbirth?
And with what would we compare emotional pain—physical pain? Arguably, emotional pain is the greater of the two evils. Sometimes people will inflict physical pain on themselves to dull their emotional anguish. I understand. If I had the choice between being stabbed or losing my wife, McKale, again, the knife has the advantage—because if the knife kills me, I stop hurting. If it doesn’t kill me, the wound will heal. Either way the pain stops. But no matter what I do, my McKale is never coming back. And I can’t imagine that the pain in my heart will ever go away.
Still, there is hope—not to forget McKale, nor even to understand why I had to lose her—but to accept that I did and somehow go on. As a friend recently said to me, no matter what I do, McKale will always be a part of me. The question is, what part—a spring of gratitude, or a fountain of bitterness? Someday I’ll have to decide. Someday the sun will rise again. The only uncertainty is whether or not I will rise to greet it.
In the meantime, what I hope for most is hope. Walking helps. I wish I were walking again right now. I think I’d rather be anywhere right now than where I am.
© 2011 Richard Paul Evans
A01: Richard Paul Evans
Bio: Richard Paul Evans is the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box. Each of his more than twenty novels has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list; there are more than seventeen million copies of his books in print. His books have been translated into more than twenty-four languages and several have been international bestsellers. He is the winner of the American Mothers Book Award, two first place Storytelling World Awards for his children’s books, and the Romantic Times Best Women's Novel of the Year Award. Evans received the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award for his work helping abused children. Evans lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife, Keri, and their five children.