I dread this day.
And I celebrate it, too.
Exactly 8 years ago, my daughter nearly died. So I hate this day.
But, she lived. So I celebrate it.
Just about everything in my life is categorized BEFORE and AFTER Maria’s accident. Funny how that happens. It’s almost like a different person, different family. And in many ways, it really is.
You may or may not know that my daughter, Maria was involved in a terrible accident 8 years ago. It was hell.
She was accidentally shot by a little boy playing with what he thought was an unloaded gun.
It wasn’t unloaded.
There was one bullet in the chamber. That’s all it takes.
The bullet went into Maria’s thigh. It shattered her femur and severed her femoral artery. She nearly bled to death right then and there. My Alexa tied a sweatshirt around her sister’s leg and saved her life. My life-saving Lex! I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call. Worst of my life. Thank GOD for Mercy Flight – Maria was flown to a trauma center in Rochester. She would have died, otherwise.
Maria spent a month or so at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. And then several months at Boston Children’s Hospital. Followed by 8 weeks of outpatient rehab also in Boston.
It’s funny what I remember from that time period. It was a robotic existence. Wake up, talk to doctors, get breakfast for us, watch Maria struggle through physical therapy, try and pass time, get lunch, more therapy, more doctors, get dinner, watch a movie or read to Maria, get a snack for her, be sure she gets her meds, call and check on Alexa, talk to my husband, try and get some sleep on the chair while checking on Maria. Cry.
She was antsy.
I was livid. Like, LIVID!
For weeks, I spent nearly all of my time fuming on the inside. How could this happen? I was bitter and angry.
It took quite some time for me to realize how much the anger build up was hurting me.
I started including the hospital chapel into my daily routine. That helped me so much. Instead of being angry with God, I asked for help. They had a little table in the chapel. On the table was a basket, some paper and pencils. They encouraged you to write down your wish, your prayer – your feelings – and put it in the basket. No name needed.
Everyday. The same prayer. Same feelings. Same everything.
The hospital chaplain came to visit Maria – at her request – every day. I could tell by the way he talked to us that he had connected those anonymous prayers to me. He told me one day that I should turn my anger to something else. Anything else, basically.
So I did.
I turned it into determination.
I asked friends and family to send Maria positive, inspirational quotes that we could hang on the wall of her hospital room. And boy did they.
Lex and my sister, Paula came to Boston and we painted our hospital window – “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”
It was a game-changer. I walked to a book store and bought a book on inspirational quotes and stories. We read from the book every single night before bed.
It made a world of difference. I felt hopeful. That’s the key, really. Whatever the situation, however dire it may be, it’s hope that you need most. One of my favorite sayings is “If you have hope, you have everything.”
We began to laugh more. I walked to a hair salon and got a hair cut – after six months of nothing. I felt like a new woman. I convinced the lady to come and cut Maria’s hair, too. It was amazing. We started to feel like human beings again. We started to feel the tide turning. My husband came to Boston on a regular basis – he was a life-line.
We even had friends fly to Boston for a visit.
They say attitude is everything and guess what – it is.
Maria was still in pain. I was still incredibly sad. But, we finally saw a light – a dim one – but a light nonetheless. We knew we were finally headed in the right direction. We changed up our routine a bit. I would put Maria into a wagon – she couldn’t walk at all – and pull her into the courtyard where we could feel the sunshine on our skin. We found a Ms. Pacman game in the hospital and played non-stop in the afternoons. Our days still sucked, but they sucked much less. Alexa came to visit on weekends – and that helped me, too.
I’m telling you – that basket with the paper and pens really changed the trajectory of our journey.
So think about that the next time you are struggling. Think about where you can find inspiration. Our friends showered us with beautiful sayings, pictures and quotes. We still have them – in boxes and in our hearts.
If you know of someone going through challenging, difficult times – send them love and HOPE. It will make a difference. I promise.
We are so grateful and thankful and will be forever. Maria is doing amazingly well and living a happy life – helping others in the medical field!!!!! I’m beyond proud.
Ugh, I dread this day.
But, I celebrate it, too.
There is an awful lot to celebrate.