Sunday, May 3, 2009

Finding a New Dream; A Soldier's Story of Loss and Discovery

Gabriel Garcia had a dream. A strong, tough young man, he planned to pursue professional Cage Fighting after his discharge. On Jan. 8, 2009 this Army Staff Sgt. was leading his platoon on a patrol of the market area near his base in southern Afghanistan, about 200 yards outside the base in a "safe area."

"A shopkeeper had loaded his store with explosives and as we walked by, he detonated it. My two friends who were in front of me were both killed," said Gabriel, who lost his right arm above the elbow. He also lost vision in his right eye, had a fractured right hip and right knee and had shrapnel all over his body.

This 26-year-old has endured nearly 20 surgeries and there are more in his future. He has spent months at the Walter Reed Hospital recovering from these ongoing operations and beginning the long journey toward rehabilitating his broken body, with another year and a half of hard work likely ahead of him.

Many people would be angry or severely depressed after such pain and loss—understandably so. But Gabriel has a unique perspective, "For a guy that was practically dead three months ago, I've got a lot of options," he commented in a recent story in the Yuma Sun.

Gabe's brother Miguel has been one of the many people praying for him since before the assault took place. As with the rest of the family, Miguel has been concerned, fearful and sad for what's happened. But Miguel says that his younger brother's upbeat attitude, faith and desire to help others has been his biggest comfort and inspiration.

With the knowledge that his dream (of Cage Fighting) will never be realized Gabriel has formed a new dream. He wants to be a great dad to his little boy, a wonderful husband to Christina and encourage others with his story.

He is now considering continuing a career in the Army where he may travel and inspire other wounded soldiers with the hope and recovery he's experienced.

Many of us have dreams that die; marriages that end, the loss of loved ones, financial challenges, career letdowns, health struggles and recreational goals not realized. It's not unnatural to grieve the loss of a dream, but some people find it nearly impossible to continue on without that one dream. They can't let go, much less begin to formulate the spark of a new dream.

Reading Gabriel Garcia's story of sacrifice, loss, strong will and resilience; fueled with the love and prayers of family and friends offers a new perspective. If this young man can overcome the loss of his limb and vision and allow his dream to be transformed by new circumstances, maybe others will too.

What dreams have you lost? Were you able to recover and find a new one like Gabriel? Comment below.

Diane Markins

*To visit Gabriel's blog and read more of his story, send get well wishes or express thanks for his tremendous sacrifice go to Gabriel'

1 comment:

Jeff Williams said...

Great post Diane!

Not sure who said it first, but this is one of my favorties, "The glory of life is not never falling, but rising every time you fall."

Many have fallen in many ways in a tumultuous world, but 'failure' or lost dreams can be new beginnings.

Thanks for the encouraging message, and God Bless Gabriel!