I've only cried *EVER* in a few movies. The first was E.T. and the second was The Joy Luck Club. And the third was just a few days ago when I watched Soul Surfer.
This movie is based on a true story about teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton who gets her arm chomped off by a 14-foot tiger shark. I cried during the movie not only because it's so inspirational, but because I could completely relate to Bethany's personal battle to not let tragedy destroy her life. I say "battle" because on the one hand she said things like, "What am I supposed to do now?" and "How will I succeed?" or "Why did this have to happen to me?" These are some of the EXACT same questions that I struggle(d) with after my Traumatic Brain Injury. Bethany lost her arm, which changed her life. I lost part of my brain, which changed my life.
And on the other hand, she keeps at it until she can learn to surf with just one arm. When someone asked her, "Do you think you'll surf again?" She curtly answered, "Think??? I 'know' I'll surf again." Her determination is key.
Bethany really had to learn how to love and accept her new self and I feel like I had to do the same after my injury. I saw Bethany's parent's struggle to know when to accept that she may not be able to accomplish the same things and when to push her to still dream big, just as I watched my parents push and pull back with me.
Through my years as a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor, I've found myself much more conscientious of others who are someplace in the midst of a personal struggle. And I've found that's everyone -- to some degree -- everyone struggles with something. For some of us it's a missing limb or missing brain cells, but for others it's the death of a loved one, a broken heart, or financial mishap.
It puts my own struggle in clear perspective when I think in these terms.
My favorite quote from a Bethany interview is this: She hopes her story will "encourage people, young and old, to learn to love others more, cuz I think that's what this world needs -- is just more love towards other people. I mean, we're all not perfect, all of us have something wrong with us . . ."