• CELEBRATING BUFFALO TOGETHER
    #totallybuffalo

    CELEBRATING BUFFALO TOGETHER
    #TOTALLY BUFFALO

 

Turning Anger Into Hope was a Game-Changer

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.

Just One.

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.

Repeat.

Repeat.

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.

I did.

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.

July 31st.

Ugh, I dread this day.

But, I celebrate it, too.

There is an awful lot to celebrate.

 

 

Mary Friona

Editor-In-Chief at Totally Buffalo
Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years -seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.
Mary Friona

Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.

Comments (11)

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    Sheila Gannon

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    What a beautiful story . Love and HOPE – simple and yet so hard for many to see in this age of instant gratification.
    What is the name of inspirational quotes book that you bought ? Need to share with someone that needs HOPE

    Reply

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      Mary Friona

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      I will look through my boxes soon and try to find that book! I can’t recall the name but it was sure a game changer! Maybe I should write one of my own!!!

      Reply

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    Kim a Szczepankiewicz

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    This was an inspiring read. It made me smile… first real smile in quite a while.

    Reply

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      Mary Friona

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      Thank you so much! Makes me smile everyday!

      Reply

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    Tricia Lebediker

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    Elliot and I are so happy the story had a happy ending. Maria is such an amazing young woman! You and the hubby are blessed. While this was such a tumultuous time for your family, the song that came from this tragedy is as beautiful as Maria and everytime I hear it I remember to smile and say a little thank you that she came out ok!

    Reply

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      Mary Friona

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      You are so sweet, Tricia! Thank you so much!!!!

      Reply

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    Kathy Philipps

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    Thank you so much for sharing this, I read it on a day that I could really use it. I am so happy your daughter is alive and well. God bless your family

    Reply

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    Tracy Diina

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    Mary you are an amazing woman. I think so highly of you because you are a person who says great things—and actually does them too. I can’t imagine how scary that time was for you. So glad you are all doing so well now.

    Reply

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      Mary Friona

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      Thank you so much! I admire you and the work you do as well!!!!

      Reply

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    Julie

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    I had no idea that this happened to your family. Probably because 8 years ago, I wasn’t paying attention to guns or shootings, accidental or otherwise.
    My brother was shot and killed in Kaisertown back in 2015. Wrong place, wrong time. This never should have happened to him. One wrong bullet went right into is aorta and he died. ECMC tried for almost 5 hours to save him. I read your story and I know your anger. It’s different from mine but when I read your story, I can relate. I’m struggling to not be angry anymore. After all that has happened, I’m curious to know: your opinion on guns. Was it really the chaplain and turning to God what showed you that dim light? I’m going on 3 years and sometimes I see the light and then it goes out.
    Have you or your daughter ever thought about speaking publicly about your journey or do you forget it happened except for on July 31? Just some things I was wondering. It can be comforting to hear other people’s stories.
    Thank you for sharing yours.
    I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and especially more so, today❤️

    Reply

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      Mary Friona

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      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for the comment. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. It’s heartbreaking.
      I was filled with anger – but time, and yes faith helped me climb out. Living with anger is not doing anything except hurting you. Think about what you have to be grateful for in life. It’s obviously different because Maria survived.
      We are getting to a point where we may begin speaking publicly. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it and Maria lives with scars and pain daily so this is not something we think about once a year. We live by the notion – when it comes to your past, you should look back, but not stare. We can’t dwell on it although we do talk about it on a regular basis. As for my feelings on guns – I don’t blame the gun, I blame the person who was playing with it and the adults who allowed such a thing to happen. I, like anyone, hate gun violence but believe in the 2nd amendment.
      I am proud of my daughter and grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved her.
      Sending prayers and well wishes to you. You deserve happiness. Remember that.

      Reply

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