If I Can Walk for Three Days
김형기 스테파노         6/3/2024

If I Can Walk for Three Days

Stefano Hyong Gi Kim


I read an essay titled "Three Days to See" during my freshman year of college, and it left a subtle but profound impression on me. When I lived in Alabama, my family and I visited Helen Keller's birthplace, which was about an hour and a half away by car. The memory of her essay came to mind during that visit.


Though Helen Keller never saw, heard, or spoke, she wrote an essay titled "Three Days to See," imagining what she would see and feel if she had the opportunity to see for just three days. Helen Keller's words gently comforted Americans struggling with the aftermath of the Great Depression, reminding them of the miraculous nature of the world we encounter every day.


While my physical condition is incomparable to Helen Keller's, I do face many inconveniences due to one missing leg and another in a damaged state. There are numerous things I cannot do in my daily life. Sometimes, I dream of being able to walk properly even for just one day. Although it seems impossible, the ability to dream is always present.


Imagine one day God grants me the ability to walk normally for three days. The thought of it alone would be overwhelmingly exciting. If given permission, I would make the most of those three days. "What are three days?" I would request with fervor. If He's granting a wish, might as well make it lively. Extend it until I die, or for three years, or even just three months. However, in the end, I would settle for the three days that the Lord allowed. After all, what are three days?


A few years later, if one day I hear the words of God saying that I can walk for three days starting tomorrow morning, I wouldn't be able to sleep all night. What would I do during those three days? Where would I go? Throughout the three days, I would ensure I tightly grip the steering wheel while driving. I would showcase exemplary driving without receiving a single speeding ticket, displaying the ideal driving skills that my wife has never seen before.


On the first day, I would wake up before sunrise, drink a cup of coffee with an excited heart, and repeatedly listen to "Mananita." Breakfast could be a quick stop at a rest area on the way. Finally, the sun rises, and my legs return to normal. Suppressing my excitement, I would rush my wife to get into the car. Where to? Cape Cod. Although it may take some time, the route is planned to follow the coastline. As always, my wife, sitting comfortably, would fall asleep shortly after we depart. Now that we have GPS, I won't have to wake her up irritably to look at the map.


Finally, we reach the sea. First, I would scream like crazy towards the horizon, very loudly. I would release the accumulated sorrows and anger into the sea and sky. Then, dressed in a swimsuit, I would jump into the sea. Is this the sensation of seawater that I haven't felt in years, a bit cold but warm and comforting as it wraps around my body? Remembering to have fun, I would playfully swim, whether it's a doggy paddle or a froggy paddle. I might get tired soon, but it's still exciting to float in the water.


After a while, I would come out of the water, walk on the sandy beach, and climb a not-so-high rock. While trying to catch the water dripping through the cracks, I would catch a small crab and place it on my palm, teasing it before letting it go. While watching the setting sun beyond the horizon, I would yearn for the deep blue and rough waves of the hometown sea. I would long for the old friends I used to play with on the hometown beach.


On the second day, although a bit tired, I would get up and cook ramen. Since I have to be out all day, today's ramen would include two eggs in two packets. Of course, with plenty of green onions. After breakfast, not too far from home, I would head to Bear Mountain, which is not too high or far. Today, I would park the car in the parking lot on the hillside and walk up to the summit. It would be tough after a long time, but the satisfaction in my heart would be great. At the summit, I would shout loudly for everyone to hear. The triumphant scream, returning to the summit after a long time, would be refreshing. Showing off the healthy walk, I would go down, this time regretting that I couldn't bring pork belly and soju.

While watching the setting sun, I would recall the winter day in my twenties when I climbed Mount Manisan with a beautiful girl (now my wife) on a chilly day with a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius. At that time, it was an exhilarating experience to shout from the summit. Now, seeing her as an old grandmother, I would feel a bit sad as I think about the young girl who was fresh and lively back then.


On the third day, I would take my elder and younger daughters' children, in other words, my grandsons and granddaughters, to the neighborhood park. While the children play on the playground, I would go around on a bicycle. If I get tired of cycling, I would play with the children. Riding on my shoulders, I would let the youngest ride a rocking horse until he gets dizzy. Holding the slightly bigger one's arms, I would spin him round and round until he feels dizzy. Riding a seesaw, pushing a swing, or doing anything the children enjoy, I would do it all.


Lunch would be a barbecue in the park. I would set up the fire, grill the meat, cook sausages for the children, and place the food on the outdoor table. I would do it all myself.


In the evening, I would go to the church and participate in Mass. For the first time in a long time, assisting the priest as an altar boy, I would personally feel how great the grace of the Lord is.


Late at night, while praying with my wife, I would express gratitude for the grace of the Lord who allowed me to walk for three days.


And I would express even greater gratitude for the grace of the Lord who allowed me to walk with two legs for a long time before the accident.


I would endlessly thank the Lord for teaching me how to live happily even with prosthetics and crutches, despite the inconvenience.


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영성의 샘
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