17 August 2009

Deep Thoughts on Shallow Topics

Do you read NieNie (Stephanie Nielson)? I started reading her blog the day after she and her Mr Nielson suffered that horrible plane crash that killed their friend a year ago.

The first post I read was the one where her sister C-jane posted quickly to say that the crash had occurred and to ask for prayers.

I then read the previous post. How bizarre. Just a few short hours ago she had been safe and well, asking for people to consider advertising on her blog. What a lovely photo of her and her son Oliver. What had happened to her since then, I wondered.

Over the last twelve months, many of which were spent wondering when Nie would come out of the coma and if she was okay, I read most of her previous posts. I learned a lot about Nie. She and I are very different in some aspects, as she comes from a Mormon background and I am a Christian. But I still marvelled at the depth of her faith, I enjoyed reading about her family and how she loves being a wife and mother, and in general enjoyed peering through this bloggy window into her life.

How exciting was it to finally hear from her - out of the coma, back home and blogging again! How sad to hear of her struggles with her rehabilitation and self-image, including this heart-wrenching post about when her baby boy didn't recognise her, as her appearance is now very different.

Although our faith backgrounds are so different, I have been praying for her. I've never met her, never emailed her and never commented (as she does not haave the comments open on her blog), but I feel I know her in some small way. My heart aches for her, and I feel that there's nothing else I can do except talk to God on her behalf.

Now here is what's on my mind right now.

A short while ago, she posted this on her blog. Check out this link. Read her words. Look at that gorgeous picture of her and admit - she is a lovely person inside and out.

16th August was the anniversary of the plane crash. After a year of posting photos of everyone and everything else in the world, she finally posted a photo of her new self. You'll need to follow that link too.

Do you feel what I feel as you see the difference?

Okay, so the new Nie is beautiful inside and out as well, but the outer beauty is dramatically altered and bears the signs of her year's struggle with horrible burns and the many surgeries she has had. The most important thing is that she and her Mr Nielson are alive. And all this is just about appearance, right? ... Right?

But seriously? I can't believe what a hard road dear Nie is walking.

For us women, our appearance is very special. It's part of our identities. Is it any wonder that Nie has struggled with the change in her appearance? With the way that this change affected her youngest child so deeply in the days when he didn't recognise her?

In Nie's situation, I would struggle so deeply. You know I would. I'd fall apart. I shouldn't, but I would.

So today, after reading her blog post last night and seeing the photo of her new self, I have Deep Thoughts. Deep Thoughts on the Shallow Topic of appearance, what it means to me, and whether it really should mean all that to me. And I'm tying myself up in knots.


The Accidental Housewife said...

Do you knwo what I love, LOVE about the after photo? That necklace. To me, it says "Hey world! Regardless of what's been thrown at me, I still have a vibrant, happy side. Don't you dare forget it when you look at me!"
It helps me see past the burns wrapping and the bandages and into her personality.

Givinya De Elba said...

I loved that her eyes were as filled with love as in her before photos :)

Crazy Sister said...

She sounds amazing. What a thing to live through!

Jodie said...

Humbling. Really humbling.

Sassy Britches said...

It really puts things in perspective. There are people out there who have it way worse than I do. And they are thriving not just surviving. I do hear you though; I really cannot imagine how I would hold up in her situation...I think I've taken my apperance for granted (as I'm sure seh did as well, beautiful thing). Having it altered dramatically would...there are no words.

Jen said...

Wow, I don't know this blog but what a journey. I have goosebumps reading all of this.

I love your thoughts. I love that it has started to make me think.

Wow, just Wow.

Tracy P. said...

The quote from Washington Irving above the photo is fabulous.

WOW! What a change! I think that one of the reasons our appearance is so important to us is framed perfectly by what happened when her son didn't recognize her, and couldn't for so long. It is our very identity. And not just to us, but those on the other end of every relationship we have. Not only our strong and beautiful features, but even the over-pronounced and awkward ones that make us uniquely us. She lost it all. What unimaginable grief.

I think it's all about doing the best we can with what we have--but not obsessing over it. So hard especially for us women to find the balance. But I don't think it is as shallow a topic as it may seem.

Hairline Fracture said...

I just started reading her blog not too long ago! I can't imagine how hard it must be for her to see herself so changed--but from her posts I can tell she is an amazing woman. (Reading her posts makes me ashamed when I get whiny.)

DysFUNctional Mom said...

God, that is so sad. I totally get what you're saying. It shouldn't be so important, but sometimes it just is, and I don't know how to fix that.

Hippomanic Jen said...

We do identify with our skins, even when that's really so little of what the essence of me is.

It really can use some thinking through, I've always thought I'd like to glory in wrinkles as I gain them - they show my experience of the world (and I hope they are happy smile lines, not frowning or worrying ones).

But to have my face suddently redone like a reformatted hard drive would be a challenge.

Not to be recognised - even by myself in the mirror, let alone my nearest and dearest. Some deep thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Some really thought provoking words there, from and of course from her. Wow. I remember this happening, but a year ago? Goodness. Thanks for such a thought provoking, deep post.

sewfunbymonique said...

Wow! People like that remind me of my blessings and really inspire me. An amazing woman!!