Finding the Miracle in the Mundane

by Jenny Feldman

“So this is what you meant
When you said that you were spent
And now it's time to build from the bottom of the pit
Right to the top
Don't hold back
Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain check...”

- "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons

This could have been the end of my story - but it’s not.  As I sit here and write this, listening to a little Imagine Dragons, I am surrounded by mundane normalcy.  Piles of clothes sorted into darks, lights, and whites adorn my laundry room.  I have carpools to drive, dinners to plan, and schedules to arrange.  Bath time, homework, date nights, girls' nights, and emails to answer wait for me, as well.  I have two amazing little girls, a fabulous family, and great friends, after all - and a wonderful husband who sometimes needs help with all these things, too (although buddy won’t usually admit it… ;) ).       

Our  little family at a recent wedding
But every September takes me back.  September always sucks.
I hold it in. I count the days.  I try so hard to JUST. GET. THROUGH.
“What happened???!!!” 
 “Will she ever walk again???”  
 “…Likely permanent…” 
“One day, there will be ‘bionics’…”
”Do you believe in miracles? I do.”

That last quote is comprised of words that were spoken by Dr. Ben Carson, during a conversation in my hospital room as he spoke with my family and me about what had transpired on September 28th, 1989. He is the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at a world-reknowned hospital in Baltimore, a position he has held since 1984 (at the age of 33).  He is the youngest doctor to be appointed to such a position in the history of the hospital.

What happened to me was not his fault, as he was not my surgeon, nor was he in the operating room.  He was brought in, a couple days later, to help my parents figure out what our next steps might be.  Two years prior to consulting on my case – which is a spinal-cord injury sustained during what our family thought was a “routine” spinal fusion for scoliosis – he had made history at the age of 36, when he successfully separated conjoined twins.  He has since performed similar operations for other children who come from around the world to be treated by him and his colleagues.  He is kind of a neurosurgical rock-star.  When he performed the surgery for the first time, Dr. Carson was the same age as I am, as I write this. 

I was 13 when he and I met, and I was more than a bit doped up on various pain medications.  A great deal of the conversation is lost on me, even to this day.  But his words - "Do you believe in miracles?" - have stuck with me off and on throughout the past 23 years.

I think, at the time, lots of people around me thought that the “miracle” would be my walking again.  After all, that is what I lost on that random Thursday in September, around 2:30 pm (or at least, I think that’s when they came out to talk to my mom about a “complication” while she paced in the waiting room).  And for a long time, it’s something I worked hard every day to regain, even if it meant cruising along at an unstable snail’s pace with braces up to my hips and crutches or a walker.  It was exercise, and it was good for my circulation.  But realistically, it eventually became clear that walking was not going to be my main mode of transportation.

I won’t lie - it is something that I mourn, just a little bit, every day.
Me, rocking the 80’s like no other at my 8th grade graduation, 
8 ½ months post-injury – I’m wearing braces and sneakers 
because I wanted to walk up to receive my diploma

I mourn it when I have to get up very early in the morning, before most people, to do things to get myself ready for the day at that un-Godly hour.  I mourn it when it takes the girls and me longer than it does Steve to get everyone out the door to school - or anywhere, for that matter.  I mourn it when I have to consider every silly logistic of every place I go to make sure that I can park and get myself and my kids out, get in, get to a bathroom, etc.

I mourn it when, just two weeks ago, while driving home from school and eating a snack, Caroline finally asked me THE question:  “Mommy, why can’t you walk?” Or when Molly casually mentioned to Steve, just this past week at soccer, “When will Mommy get better and not use her wheelchair?”

Yes, it has taken them six (or almost four) whole years (respectively), with a mom who has always used a wheelchair (since waaaaaaaay before their existence), to get around to asking.  They are amazing.  Meanwhile, they are both just grateful to hitch a ride on my lap on occasion.  Maybe I am doing something right? ;)

Twenty-three years.  Twenty-three years full of lots of stuff – of LOTS more ups than downs.  I thank God every day for perspective.

Rehab with awesome therapists, (including my good friend Karen Whitesell, with whom I have stayed in contact and developed a great friendship throughout the years, and who also popped back into our lives just a few weeks ago at a Bruce Springsteen concert!) put me in a position to succeed.  School, friends, summers (and other seasons), college, a career as a teacher, marriage, kids…life.  It all came in these past 23 years. With the help of family and friends, I have ticked all the boxes I was supposed to tick, and many more.  My life is a miracle, if you will.

You see, not everyone who is in my same situation lives the life I do.  Some go through the same experience I did, but don’t have the same result.  You can look at the variables that I had in my favor – a wonderfully supportive group of family and friends, amazing schools, a community with a huger-than-huge heart – and that changed things for me.  All of these people and experiences have formed who I am and what I believe.  I am a lucky girl. As such, I will always be someone who knows I have an obligation to live the way that everyone in my life has lived on my behalf.  I will give back whenever I encounter a person who needs my help, whenever I can, just because I have witnessed and was raised to believe that this is the right thing to do.

My fabulous younger sisters and me, taken a few years ago

And that brings me back to Dr. Carson, who I “revisited” with a couple weeks ago when a movie about him was on Lifetime.  Yes, THAT guy who came into my hospital room back on that random day in 1989 - when I was in a fog and couldn’t really even fathom where life was going to take me next - was there on MY flat-screen, in the form of Cuba Gooding, Jr. (who played him quite well, by the way!).  

It was life in fast-forward.  I was in my pajamas, face freshly-scrubbed, teeth brushed, and snuggled into my bed next to my sleeping husband of 10 years, with two daughters tucked into their beds down the hall and a Mommy's To-Do List a mile long.  Twenty-three years after meeting him in person, I heard Dr. Carson (Gooding, Jr.) say to another patient (albeit through the script of some screenwriter who obviously saw the importance of those words) "Do you believe in miracles?"

I DVRed the movie so that Steve could catch a glimpse, in a small way, of a person who provided a sweet little ray of light during the darkest days I have faced in my life, thus far.  

Ben Carson went through quite a bit on his journey to end up where he is right now, too.  His life wasn’t easy, but he made it happen.  He fought hard and never let his circumstances determine what he was capable of achieving.  He became something better than many thought he would become. 

And on that day, just after September 28, 1989, in a hospital room on the 8th floor of the Children’s Center, he passed that along to me. He probably doesn't even remember meeting me, but I most certainly remember meeting him, even under that fuzzy circumstance.  Dr. Carson didn’t make a promise he couldn’t keep.  I know for certain that he doesn't operate that way - figuratively or literally.  I respect him for that.  He could not promise me that I would walk again, but he believes in miracles and does what he can do to make them happen. And on that day, he thought great things would happen to me.  His words were my miracle.  I just didn’t know it yet, and I don't think anyone knew the form they would take. 

You see, maybe the miracle for me isn’t that I will walk again.  My life wasn't supposed to take the turn it did - but that's other peoples' deals to reconcile for themselves, and who's to say that another life would have been better for me, anyway?  Life has to be what we make of the cards we have been dealt.  As for walking - if it is to be, it will be.  Maybe the gift for me is that my life is supposed to be the way it is.  I am grateful for the fun and the chaos that come with being a daughter, wife, friend, teacher, and mother.  I also need to be grateful for the challenges that come my way.  That is what I pray for and about every day. They help me know just what I am made of, and are therefore a miracle, too.  So many things in my life are perfectly imperfect.  It’s just the way they are supposed to be.

It’s the mundane in my life that can drive this girl crazy.  But the normalcy?  I wouldn’t trade it for a hot second, because that is MY miracle.  Apparently, Imagine Dragons saw it - I guess it just took awhile for me to get there, myself...

"It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger, but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
I'm never changing who I am...

...This road never looked so lonely
This house doesn't burn down slowly
To ashes, to ashes

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger, but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
I'm never changing who I am....”

- "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons

Jenny Menser Feldman is a thirty-something woman who has been on the roller-coaster of spinal-cord injury, and has lived to tell about it!  She welcomes the opportunity to help others who are following in similar footsteps.  Jenny and her amazing husband Steve are proud parents to two beautiful little girls, ages 6 and 3 1/2. In her past life, she was a teacher, but for now, Jenny fills her days by being home with the girls full-time, as well as working with her small custom stationery business, which she owns with her best friend - Penny-Bear Printing (  She was injured in the Fall of 1989, and has been working ever since to make lemonade out of lemons! Visit Jenny's blog at You may also email Jenny at


  1. I met Jenny only a couple of years ago, and I can tell you one thing. Her Light SHINES BRIGHT! You are an inspiration to many Jenny, Carla F.

  2. are so inspirational!!!

  3. Beautifully written and a wonderful outlook.

  4. I love you so much...your a wonder woman...I'm never changing who I am either <3 hugs and kisses OH and by the have a beautiful are blessed baby girl!!

  5. One thing I know for certain is that God puts certain people in our lives for reasons at the time that may not seem clear (I mean, of course I loved our Dewey days together), but eventually they will completely take your breath away and lift you up and carry you when you need it most. I've said it before and I'll say it my sweet and loving friend are a gift to not just me but to our whole family. xoxoxo


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