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My Husband's Broken Collarbone

November 1, 2016 | by Emuna Braverman

And my lesson in self-centeredness.

My husband broke his collarbone last week.

We wanted to create some really exciting story about the black diamond ski slope he was on in the Swiss Alps or the mountain he was rappeling down or the sharks he was swimming with, but he was actually just jogging in the neighborhood and tripped. He landed in such a perfectly wrong position that surgery was required in order to reattach all the tendons. It’s a long recovery with no carrying or lifting and, for the moment, no driving (thank God for Uber!), but in the end, thankfully it’s just a hassle. It’s not life threatening and it doesn’t prevent him from working.

Despite this optimistic outlook, I have to confess that I was feeling a little sorry for myself. It happened during Sukkot so I was walking around the last days schlepping tables and chairs in and out of the house and bags of garbage and recycling etc. etc. and complaining about it all. The words “I have to do everything around here!” may not have actually escaped my lips (I am able to exercise a modicum of self-control after all) but I sure thought them.

I was in that grumpy mood when I met a friend for lunch last week. She is someone with whom I have a wonderful connection but we don’t see each other that often, so I was looking forward to catching up. I told myself that I wasn’t going to say anything about my husband – it wasn’t that big a deal, I wasn’t looking for pity and/or compassion (Okay, yes I was!) and the conversation didn’t need to revolve around me.

She was busy on her phone when I arrived and asked how she was. “I’m dealing with something,” she said cryptically, “but first let’s hear about you.” I couldn’t have asked for a better opening. I was off to the races – the broken collarbone, the surgical procedure, the ramifications for my husband and for me – although I did try to keep the whiny, complaining tone out of my voice.

And it was a good thing I did. When I stopped to catch my breath she filled me in on her family news. “My husband needs a kidney transplant” she burst out.

“Whoa,” I said, “now I’m really embarrassed. You let me go on and on about this broken clavicle and you’re dealing with this?”

I was mortified. As our conversation continued it turned out that the procedure for getting a kidney is much more complicated than I realized. There are a whole series of matches and donations, all of which have to work perfectly in order for a patient to receive a compatible kidney. As we sat down to eat, she had just received a text that there was a slight glitch with one of the donors and a possibility that the surgery would be postponed.

Luckily I only ordered soup because I lost my appetite. She was calmly outlining the details of this serious medical situation affecting her family and I had allowed myself down the rabbit hole of self-pity over a broken collarbone? The Almighty is always right there, right next to me, giving me that wake-up call, that reality check, that little zetz that I need, to keep me focused on what really matters and to remind me to have a positive attitude.

I am concerned for my friend and her husband and I am praying that everything goes smoothly. Not only has focusing on her situation taken my attention away from mine but it provided me with that much needed perspective. I’m just sorry it was at their expense. I can still get a little grumpy. I can still wonder why “no one” is helping. I can still feel a little frustrated. But now I stop myself. Now I focus on how grateful I am that the accident was relatively minor, as was the surgery – and that, thank God, there is surgery available for these types of injuries.

The tendency to focus on self is so great and the effort needed to overcome it is proportionate, but the Almighty in His great love (much to my chagrin – and joy) is constantly putting me in situations where I am nudged to overcome my self-centeredness. And grumble just a little bit less.

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