Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Lesson in Perspective

per-spec-tive: A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

As individuals, we all bring a unique perspective to every situation we encounter. The way I see things isn't always the way others do. I recently experienced an eye-opening lesson in perspective - one that I would like to share here.

It all centers around this image:

My friend Kylie, whose husband has a spinal cord injury similar to Jeff's, recently snapped this image of her husband and their daughter. Kylie's husband Maciu was injured in 2015 in a rugby match. He recently underwent tendon transfer surgery in his right hand and nerve transfer surgery in both arms to help with hand and finger function. As he recovered, his sweet daughter, Ariella, helped feed him.

As soon as I saw this image, I immediately identified with it, having taken so many similar ones of Jeff and Evie myself. These moments happen fast, and I've learned to carry my phone with me always. I've become adept at whipping it out of my back pocket, pressing the 'quick pic' camera icon on the screen, and snapping away.

I stared at Kylie's photo with a little smile on my face. Look at the way Ari is helping to feed her dad. Look at her adorable grin.

The picture is just so stinkin cute!

So I decided to show the picture to Jeff - so we could both experience the sweetness. I told him I had a cute picture to show him that a friend of mine posted. I brought my phone over to him, and flipped it around.

He focused on the image. He didn't say anything at first.

Then he nodded slowly. Silently. And a couple seconds later he said, "I know just how that guy feels."

What? Where was the oohs and aahs and the That's so sweet! And in looking back on this, why did I truly expect my husband to say those things? But the truth is I did expect it at the time. And what I got was very different.

So later that day I showed the picture to Evie. I introduced it to her the same way I did to Jeff. And when I showed her the image on my phone, she immediately said, "Awww!"

Finally, someone who could see things from my perspective, I thought.

Then she immediately said, "I like her robe."

What? Her robe is the thing you noticed in this picture? My mind was reeling.

But my mouth said, "Yeah, it's cute, huh."

"Yep," she chirped. Then she went along her merry little way.

I stood there alone feeling a bit defeated at this whole picture sharing/bonding attempt that I was clearly failing at.

Why can't they see what I see in this picture?

The answer didn't hit me right away, but once it did, I felt stupid for not realizing it sooner.

When we each looked at the picture individually, we were identifying with the person whose role is most similar to our own.

When I saw the picture, I saw it from Kylie's point of view. From the wife of an injured spouse. From the mom of a child who often has to slip into the role of caregiver for her paralyzed dad. From the family historian whose job it is to document these bittersweet moments to both share with friends and family, but also to remind herself that they are making the absolute best they can out of a really sucky situation.

That's how I saw it.

When Jeff saw the picture, he saw it from Maciu's point of view. He identified with a man in a vulnerable position. When he said he knew how this guy felt, he wasn't just talking about being paralyzed. He was talking about how he knows what it's like to have to be fed by someone else - he understands all the implications of what it means to have to be fed by your child - a child he used to feed.

That's how he saw it.

And when Evie saw the picture, she saw it from Ari's point of view. She saw a cute little girl with a beaming smile wearing a fuzzy white robe with pink stars. And she just happened to be feeding her dad.

That's what she saw.

And it was only when I took a step back that I could see how it all came together.

Looking back, trying to get my husband and daughter to see this picture from my perspective was selfish. And expecting them to have the same perspective as me was naive.

We each play a different role in this life. We each see this life a little differently.

This is something I plan to remember as we continue on.

But no matter how you see things - what your perspective may be - I think it's pretty universally clear that the bond between these two dads and their daughters is a pretty special one.

A huge thanks to Kylie for allowing me to share these photos and this story. These encounters - these shared experiences - are mutually beneficial to the families living this life. It's comforting to know we're not alone.

If you would like to learn more about Kylie and Maciu's journey, you can follow along on their Facebook page: 4Matty.


  1. beautifully written Kristen!
    Thankyou xo

  2. and what about your readers perspective upon seeing these images...what comes to mind is how strong the love and bond is between father and daughter, no matter what adversity befalls people, loves seems to overcome any situation.

  3. BTW I want to say Jeff is looking so healthy, and he has not put on weight, all credit to your caregiving skills, I also notice Jeff seems to like grey colored clothes :)