<< The Body Politic

One wounded warrior’s story

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Over on his photography blog, Tim Dodd has a moving series of posts about his friend Taylor Morris, who was injured in Afghanistan in May of this year. Working as part of an explosive ordinance disposal team, Morris stepped on an IED, losing both of his legs, his left arm, and his right hand.

Dodd visited his injured friend as he was recovering at Walter Reed Medical Academy in Washington, DC. Here are a few excerpts from his account:

We arrived in Washington DC at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, following a quick flight directly from Chicago.  We went straight to bed so we could see Taylor in the morning.  I was a little nervous to see Taylor, not knowing if I’d be emotional or if Taylor would really care to hang out too much. I wasn’t sure what to expect and those thoughts kept me up that night.

The following morning we rushed up to Taylor’s room as soon as Danielle (Taylor’s long-time girlfriend) sent us a text message saying they were up and ready.  We walked into the room to see Taylor sitting in his wheelchair, Danielle on his hospital bed, and a nurse at their side dressing Taylor’s wounds on his legs.  I had seen many pictures of Taylor in this state, so I was ready to see his injuries up close and personal.  Taylor and Danielle both flashed us a quick smile, but their attention immediately returned to the dressing.  This anti-climatic greeting helped ease my nerves.  It made me immediately snap out of any thoughts of pity or feeling sorry and put me right smack in the middle of his current life.

Once the nurse left, we picked up conversation where we left off years before.  Taylor is still the exact same person he always was.  We talked about everything: Cars, motorcycles, the incident itself, their future, their plans, their goals and expectations. […]

Taylor blew us all away with his attitude.  He didn’t slow down, he didn’t complain ONCE, and he is sincerely thankful for his second chance at life. This attitude is contagious and immediately obvious to all those who work with Taylor on a day-to-day basis. You can tell in his big, puppy dog eyes that he is genuinely thankful for the love, support and encouragement he’s been receiving from everyone.

We were in the room with Taylor one night watching a movie when a new nurse came in to give him his pills.  She’s a kind, soft spoken Jamaican woman, who after briefly chatting with Taylor said, “Boy, you have a beautiful attitude.” Her face lit up when he nodded modestly with a soft spoken, humble “Thank you.” As she walked out of the room, she gently proclaimed ”You’re such a sweetheart.” Come to find out, admiration from the staff at Walter Reed comes often for Taylor.

Another Doctor told Taylor, “You’re the most injured one here, yet you’re the easiest to work with.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Taylor didn’t complain to them even when things weren’t ideal.  You can tell his goal is not to stay in that room, it’s to get out and continue his life as soon as possible.

Other patients, even the older ones, seem to look up to Taylor.  Everywhere he hurriedly goes on his motorized wheelchair, he leaves a trail of inspired people.  It seems an often occurrence that Taylor is speeding down the hall with Danielle’s teasing voice of concern soon to follow. […]

If there’s one thing I learned this weekend, it is that Taylor remains to be his typical humble, adventurous, fun, sincere and passionate self.  He does not want to be called a hero.  He states “I was simply doing my job, which I knew the risks of. The people who went into known danger to save my life are the real heros.” Taylor might not want to acknowledge being a hero on the battle field, but in my opinion, he can’t deny being the strongest inspiration to everyone who hears his story.  The bomb took much more than his limbs, it took his independence, privacy, ease of living and maybe most importantly to him and Danielle, their favorite way of showing love for one another, hand holding.  Yet through all this, Taylor is determined.  He is not letting his situation get him down or even get in his way.  He soldiers on fighting to make strides not only for himself, but for Danielle, for his family, for his friends, for his community and for his country.  I told Taylor, “When you feel like slowing down, just remember we’re all waiting for you to come home so we can hang out.” I could tell in the intensity of his stare, he took that as an order.

In subsequent posts, Dodd tells of Morris learning how to walk with prosthetic limbs and coming home. Read the whole series here–you’ll be glad you did.