Darrine: Pain is the motivation

It can take a single second for a life to be ripped apart. In Darrine’s case, that second was the time it took a bullet to shatter in his body and rip through his lungs, back, and spinal cord. The bullet was shot at close range from someone demanding his money. It contained the anger of a man who wasn’t given what he wanted.

Darrine at home in Washington DC

It took six surgeries and two near-death moments for Darrine to survive. Now he sits in a wheelchair, paralyzed by a piece of bullet, but freed in his mind. The bullet may have broken his body, but it couldn’t break his mind. As Darrine describes it, the snake became a butterfly.

But that transformation took time. When Darrine first came back to life in George Washington University Hospital and discovered what happened, he was hissing like a snake — angry at the world and bitter with life for throwing him into hell. The health workers avoided him, recoiling from his negativity. Even before the incident, he had become numb to many feelings and situations. So at first, the shooting magnified his negativity. But he had time to think. He had time to read the Quran. He had the presence of mind to ask God to give him more guidance and greater self-control.

One day, when he woke up from yet another surgery, the sun was shining on his face like a divine presence. He felt somehow liberated by the illumination, as if flying freely like a butterfly. He gestured to the nurses to take out the incubation tube. They said it was a risk; his lungs might not have the power to breathe. But Darrine insisted. It was a struggle; he coughed up a lot of stuff, but he took one deep breath and felt free again. He knew he couldn’t be mad all the time — that takes too much energy — so he was reborn into a better version of himself. Somehow, Darrine was able to hold the pain and then transform it into positive energy.

The health workers were at first baffled by this transformation, but then they celebrated it. Now, they all want to socialize with him, and they feel slighted if he doesn’t greet them whenever he goes back to the hospital. Part of Darrine’s desire for a new life was motivated by his twins. They were still in the womb when the bullet struck, and he wanted to do everything in his power to witness their birth. Sure enough, on April 20, 2021, Darrine was present when his twins entered the world.

Darrine is rediscovering the joy and mystery of life. At first, it was learning to do the little things again. Breathing freely. Sitting up. Holding a fork. Taking a shower. And then it was realizing that he had been given a second chance and needed to use his time well. When the medics who picked up his bloodied body came to visit him in the hospital, they were stunned. He wasn’t supposed to survive. There is something special about you, they said. God has special plans for you. Those plans include coaching basketball and motivational speaking. Darrine wants people to understand that one isn’t defined by the state of the body, but by the state of the soul.

No matter how tough life’s circumstances may be, there’s always a light somewhere. Darrine is living proof of that, floating like a butterfly when everything seemed lost.

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