Photo Courtesy of James Ackerley
We all have our personal cross that we carry. Our crosses aren’t meant to be easy to carry, but they do make us stronger. I’ve been fighting for my life for my entire existence and have scars from every battle.
With faith, love, and hope I’ve been able to overcome odds. We all have our heroes that we look up to, and mine are my parents and siblings.
Unlike comic book heroes, my heroes are real and have saved my life on many occasions. From the get go, when Mom was pregnant of me doctors were trying to get rid of me. They were adamant about aborting me since I viewed as high risk due to Mom’s age and being that I am the sixth child. Even though I have caused lot of pain and sacrifice, my parents fought to keep me alive.
Through countless of illnesses, bumps, bruises, laughter and tears, they have seen me through it all. Nothing could have prepared them for the turn of events that would occur.
The morning of August 26,1993 started off as an exciting 2nd day of the new school year. Even as a little girl I became animated when I would talk about my goals and aspirations. I had this spiritual awareness that I could only attribute to the amazing upbringing I had. So as I was talking about how grateful I was that I would be in the same class with my friends. I was looking forward to getting to learn new things, Mom and I had no clue this driver had lost control of her car.
I have no recollection of what happened after the bus turned around the corner just that the lights went out. I had been side swept by a distracted driver, and this was before the cell phone craze came. The way they explained to me; this woman was putting on makeup, while reprimanding her kids. She spilled coffee on herself which in turn ripped me away from Mom’s side all within a blink of an eye.
It took me eight days to wake up from my coma. I have to try to think of the best way I could describe it. It is like having you imagine that feeling you get when you feel like you’re trapped in a horrible nightmare. A nightmare that you just can’t wake out of.
Everything was blurry, painful, and stressful. This anxiety fueled rage in me that I never knew existed. A power flooded my entire being. I began yanking wires and needles and started whacking anyone in sight.
I was so confused with what was happening. If it weren’t for
Mom’s voice telling me to calm down, I would have done even more damage to my brokenness. I remember crying myself back to sleep. The days that followed I had to deal with the fact that what I was experiencing wasn’t a nightmare. It was my new reality. Life had changed not only for me but also for my family.
I could only imagine the torment that my parents and six siblings
went through. From Mom actually viewing the whole scene to Dad and my siblings receiving the news. Even though my body paid a heavy toll that day, they were the ones suffering. That’s something I don’t wish upon anyone. The doctors told them that if I lived: I would never walk. The doctors told them that I would always be dependent of them, so they needed to count their losses. So once again my heroes did all that they could to keep me alive. Mom came to sing to me many times that I flat lined. My family united in prayer and hope which secured my survival.
My family called my St. Joseph’s Parish Family and other parishes of many denominations to pray for me, and comfort my family. I remembered being told about a woman who received a message from God saying that she needed to pray for a little girl who was greatly ill, and that girl was me.
Many people from all walks of life sent me cards, and flowers, and even raised funds. So why would I give up? I didn’t want feel like “the girl who had an accident” because in the eyes of my heroes I’m a survivor and has given me purpose.
Sure for many months I saw myself as a monster with all traces of the accident all over me, even down to my shaved head. Oh how I would cry because I was so ashamed of what had become of me not knowing that other people saw hope and confirmation of God’s existence. I remember asking Mom if she felt embarrassed of me because of the visible scars and wheelchair I was in, and she snapped at me. She was upset that I would dare to think that she could ever be ashamed of me since she had fought so hard to keep me alive. She told me that she was the person to administer CPR on sight without hesitation. My hero told me not to feel sorry for myself because I was alive for reason. So inspired by the words of my hero I set out goals to recuperate my independence. I knew I couldn’t allow the doubt or threat of a doctor determine for me what I was going to be able to accomplish.
This was probably easier for me to do because I had so many people on my side to provide the fuel I needed to stay positive.
Even before my accident I was a very happy and confident person. So I needed to work on my smile and laughter because those were things that I couldn’t do, and needed my trade mark back.
So every chance I could remember I would try a new laugh, and smile a little wider. The first attempts did make me cry since I had no real control due the brain injury I sustained. It probably looked like I was practicing some Richard Simmons’s facial routine, but it worked. I was giving Elmo a run for his money with the concerto of laughter I had created. My smiling is my signature because there is so much more to smile about. Laughter is truly a healing remedy and a smile can not only make your day but those around you as well.
Photo Courtesy of Stephen
In the process of learning to smile and laugh, I was making
attempts to walk again. Can you imagine a house of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living/dining room, and small kitchen for 9 people? As it was space was tight, but now I had a hospital bed and wheelchair to deal with. My initial goal was to be able to walk up Grandma’s steps for Christmas because I didn’t want Grandma and Grandpa have to worry about having a ramp installed just for me. And the thought of being carried in was humiliating. Mind you I wasn’t accustomed to this life of limitations. Prior to this I was this loud, rambunctious, genius kid who loved entertaining others.
Still to this day if I stumble, I make my family worry just as much as I did in those days of brokenness.
There are events in our lives that could make or break you. Things can happen so fast. There are no redoes and the consequences can be unforseen.
You just have to heal what has been broken, and live with what you have in the now.
Photo Courtesy of Mark Seton