By Michael Maruzzi
For most of my life Saugus, Massachusetts, was home for me. It was, in large part, because of the people of the community. As a teacher at Saugus High School, I was lucky enough to have interactions with multiple generations of Saugus’ residents. I am unable to adequately express my gratitude for the outpouring of support that I received at the Kowloon restaurant on June 27, 2023, for the launching of my first ever book.
Sunday, July 23, 2023.
Home. The place my wife, Arlene, finds her comfort. There are times in every life where it’s difficult to find comfort. I need only to look less than a year into my past where my comfort seemed out of reach.
Back in May our annual trip north started. Arlene and I traveled on a plane for our first ever visit to Chicago for a family wedding. Five days later, we boarded a second flight to Long Island, New York, where we met our vehicle. The Monday of Memorial Day weekend we arrived in Massachusetts for six weeks.
The second week of July, we began our journey back…a second stay in Long Island and a short visit to Pennsylvania. We finally arrived Home on July 23.
The next day it was almost noon before my eyes opened after a most satisfying night’s sleep. So much has happened over the last two months, but I cannot reflect on this trip without the context of my homecoming from last summer.
I vividly remember waking that first morning with a very different feeling compared to today. I was visited by a wound-care doctor. After a 10 minute exam, I was informed that I needed to go directly to the hospital. I was admitted four hours later. I spent the next 10 weeks having three pressure ulcers on my backside repaired by flap surgeries. A few days before my third surgery, Ian, a major hurricane, knocked out power in the entire city for weeks to make things more interesting. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and doubt brought me back to the night when I was first injured.
“This isn’t me,” I thought to myself. “I’ve been doing this for years. I am past these feelings. I have a wonderful life.” “On the other hand I am very tired” also crept into my psyche. “Once again, I’ve been doing this for many years.”
Now, after 11 months of physical and emotional rehab, so much has changed. I finished a book called “Walking Is Overrated: Witnessing the World from Two Perspectives.”
At the point last year when I entered the hospital, I still had a good portion of my book to finish. The completion, editing and the process of getting the book published continued during my time in the hospital. Writing was a distraction, and it was also cathartic to write about my true feelings in real time when they were impacting me. This experience also made for a relevant addition to my book.
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
My book launched back in Saugus, Massachusetts, my hometown. More than 270 people turned out to celebrate my personal accomplishment. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the response.
Saugus is where I grew up and spent the first 45 years of my life. Arlene grew up less than 10 miles and two cities away. The people of this community represent my original place of comfort.
Metaphorically, there is a home for each and every person. If you continue to make the choice to find your way through darkness, there is comfort in the light.
Editor’s Note: Michael Maruzzi, 54, suffered a devastating injury while playing in a hockey game for Saugus High School on Jan. 17, 1987, when he crashed into the boards head-on, leaving him paralyzed. Though confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life as a quadriplegic, Maruzzi made the most of his opportunities to pursue a career. The Saugus native became a mentor and advocate for spinal cord injured persons. Maruzzi is a 1987 graduate of Saugus High School. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Boston University (1992). Then he went on to spend 23 years as a math teacher at Saugus High School, retiring from teaching in 2015. He and his wife Arlene, who was a teacher’s aide and a cheerleading coach for Saugus Public Schools when they met, have been married for eight years and live in Fort Myers, Fla. His parents – Robert and Diane Maruzzi – and his sister, Sandra Nigro, still live in Saugus. Maruzzi has authored a memoir – “Walking is Overrated” – to show how any human being has the capacity to overcome any physical obstacle. He conducted a book launch on June 27 at Kowloon Restaurant.