We’ve made a decision. A very big one.
When I say we – I really mean my daughter, Maria.
She’s 20 – but she’s still my baby. She has her own apartment – but she’s still my baby. She has a great job and is navigating life in a lovely way – but, she’s still my baby.
You get it.
You may or may not know that Maria was involved in a terrible accident 7 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. 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.
Maria spent one month at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. And then four months at Boston Children’s Hospital. Followed by 8 weeks of outpatient rehab also in Boston.
She spent months in physical, occupational and emotional therapies. She still struggles with pain now and then. Her legs are filled with scars that she says give her character. I couldn’t agree more.
It was a long process. A long time wondering if things would ever be okay.
God was on our side.
I am at a point where I can talk about it – and so is Maria. We didn’t bury it, but we pushed it down somewhat. Tried to focus on other things.
The truth is – we were lucky. Maria was lucky.
That sounds ridiculous – but it’s not.
It’s true. She was lucky that the most amazing surgeon was on-call the night of her accident. She had the most amazing nurses, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and many others. All on her side. All rooting for sweet Maria.
When I first arrived at the hospital the night of the accident and saw Maria – she was as white as a sheet. She’d lost so much blood. She was very much drugged up on painkillers. A bag of blood hanging – entering her body. An enormous staff working on her, including a doctor who said I needed to sign a form that allowed them to amputate her leg. I remember telling him that we could live without her leg, but not without her. I begged him to save her life. He made no promises.
Surgery was about 8 hours long. Dr. Jason Kim saved her life. He saved my Maria. He’s our hero.
Dr. Jonathan Gross then saved her leg. I literally LOVE this man. He is our hero, too.
It was a long haul. We were surrounded by family. And friends. We felt very loved.
And very scared.
Maria had just about every set back and complication you can imagine. Her pain worsened. I remember being in a room with a dozen people – my husband, Scott and I with all this medical staff – We were told there was nothing more they could do. That this was how Maria’s life would be. She would have chronic pain, be on painkillers, and have limitations for the rest of her life.
I refused to accept that.
I searched and found a specialty clinic in Boston – that had a waiting list of 18 months – I begged. I told them how this sweet girl had been shot. The trauma. The pain. The helplessness I felt. I begged them like I’ve never begged for anything in my life. I prayed. I went to the hospital chapel and promised anything and everything to God, Jesus, Mary, all the Angels and Saints – who ever would listen. My sister, Paula – who flew to Rochester from Florida – who happens to be very persuasive – also called the clinic. In the end, Maria got in.
Maria and I went by ambulance from Rochester to Boston – which is a story in itself.
The doctor there – Nevil Sethna gave my daughter back her life. Helped her figure out how to walk. How to control her pain. He’s our hero.
So you see, there were an awful lot of heroes. Of course, Maria being the biggest one of all. And Alexa – who saved her sister.
But there are three other heroes that we’ve often thought about. Three unknown people who we have had countless conversations about. Three people who also helped to save Maria’s life. There is absolutely no doubt – without these three – Maria would not be here today.
They are the Mercy Flight Crew that flew her to Strong Memorial Hospital. They stopped the bleeding. Kept her calm. Treated her sweetly. She remembers it. I don’t know how, but she does. In fact, the first time I heard what had happened – that my daughter was shot – they were loading her onto the chopper. She called to tell me what happened. She called to tell me that she was going to be okay. She called to tell me to take my time driving to the hospital. As long as I live – I will never forget that phone call. I realized then and there that as a mother, I must have done something right. For Maria to worry about me? For Alexa to handle things the way she did? I was and still am in awe of my girls.
She was in good hands with that crew. She remembers them telling her that everything was going to be okay.
They were right.
So you see, they are the heroes that we haven’t been able to thank.
We will be meeting the crew very soon. The folks at Mercy flight have figured out who was working that day, who cared for Maria. And Maria is going to have the opportunity to thank them in person.
I can’t believe it! Maria is going to meet them. And I’ll be right by her side. I know that saying a mere thank you for saving my daughter’s life seems so insignificant, but I have to.
How do you truly thank someone for such a gift? How do you truly show how much their service, skills, and kindness are appreciated by our family?
We will find out soon. Very soon. Maria is ready. The crew is ready. And we have a date! We will meet the crew on July 27th at 7 pm. Stay tuned as we share our story!!!