As much as she wanted to Mom couldn’t keep the truth or me forever.
My dreams of seeing my best friend that summer had been replaced with images of hospital walls, doctors poking and prodding and ministering medicines at all hours of the day and night. It became the summer that everything changed.
It was certainly the summer that changed me. I went from a fifteen year old who was independent talking about dreams, making plans for the future, to being one lying in a hospital bed wondering what tomorrow would bring. Praying for a miracle.
Mom had broken the news to me as gently as possible. Not only would I not be going to see Myra I was not going to be walking barring a miracle.
The way I hit the ground had caused a spinal cord injury, a T_1-T-2 Thoratic Spinal Cord injury, I had know idea what that meant other than I wouldn’t be walking barring a miracle. I would have the use of my arms, my hands, my upper body was fine, but I felt nothing below the waist.
I was now a Paraplegic, one of those people in a wheelchair. The ones I had felt sorry for before, now people would be feeling sorry for me.
I didn’t need anyone’s pity though. I needed a miracle. And I needed to get away from the smell of the hospital, it smelled like a Lysol factory had exploded at times, to hide the scent of sickness and death that penetrated the walls, and I needed some real food. The hospital food was tasteless at best, disgusting at worst.
` The summer I was fifteen was supposed to be the summer of adventure, but sometimes, actually a good number of times plans are altered, never had I believed that I would face this though.
At fifteen I had to come to terms with wheelchairs, and learning to adjust to a world where only half of my body worked. I also had to remind myself over and over again that just because my legs did not work did not mean that I was any less of a person.
Still something like that does change a person, it gives you a new outlook on things, and after you go through all the stages, you suddenly become aware that you are still you, and you slowly come to grips. It takes time as all things do, because when your fifteen even a pimple can seem like the end of the world, being told you will never walk again, that is definitely more traumatic than a zit this is bigger than fitting in with the right clique this is something you have to spend your life overcoming.
Mom had taught me from an early age to be an over-comer though. She told me not to let what others thought of me get to me, and I had that in my head so often that even at fifteen I wasn’t as easily influenced by others as some of my peers. Perhaps people thought I was childless, but the truth was I was mature enough to go with my heart and my faith.
Even in the hospital I didn’t hate God for what happened to me, as some say they do, and I didn’t let it completely break my faith. That is not to say I never asked why it happened, why that guy had to get behind the wheel drunk and then hit me. I never thought I should have died though, as some do when something like this happens. I had to much life left in me to want to die, I simply wanted to understand.
I guess some things are beyond our understanding this side of Heaven anyway. Perhaps we will get our answers on that day when the Lord calls us home, but perhaps we simply won’t need them either more. Answers will no longer matter because we will be with our creator.
I did a lot of praying in the hospital and had a lot of one on one conversations with the Lord. For some they might have seen this as a test of faith, for me my faith strengthened and I had a greater appreciation for the gifts the Lord had given me. Even learning to sit up again became a reason to celebrate a reason to praise.
After relearning things as simple as sitting up I was able to move on to the real work, the real rehabilitation, hours of physical therapy everyday, because the fact of the matter was I was determined to leave the hospital before summer ended and go back to school. My trip to see Myra may have been ruined but I would be darned if I was going to fall behind a year.
I knew adapting would be hard, not just for myself but for those around me. Most everyone had heard about what had happened by July though, and some had even come to visit me, for some the visits seemed strained, for others they talked as if nothing had happened. I preferred the later, because I didn’t want the pity of my peers I just wanted acceptance of me, the way I was. I didn’t want to be “poor Sienna in the wheelchair” as some viewed me I wanted to be treated the way I had always been. Sure I wouldn’t be running races, but I didn’t mean I didn’t want to hear about those who could.
Mom was great about treating me like she always had, once the shock wore off, once the tears were dried. She expected out of me what she always had, love, respect, faith in my creator, and in myself and hard work. Mom would not go for me giving up, and the truth was I wasn’t going to go for it myself. Giving up was not an option I was going to succeed.
It was around that time that I decided, that no matter what the doctors said, I was going to walk down to receive my diploma on graduation day. I would have two years for this miracle to occur. If I didn’t then I would not hate God or anything, my faith would not be broken no matter what, but this was a goal I set for myself and one I spent many hours praying about.
I would have two years for this miracle to occur, I was going to work hard, and pray even harder.
The intense physical therapy would not end once I left the hospital, it would continue.
I was not about to give up once I got home.
The day I was released from the hospital to get back to the business of living outside of the hospital walls, was a day of celebration. I was not walking yet, but Myra was back. Her Mother and she decided to move back because we were as close as sisters, Myra’s Mom was my Mom’s best friend. I lovingly called her Aunt Sheila, because she was more real than any my so called “blood aunts”. Mom had called my Dad’s sisters to see if they would help her locate him after my accident. Their response had been “We’re not doing that so you can slap him with medical bills.”
I knew the Lord was against hating another, but dang I was sure these women the Lord’s patience was even tested with.
How could anyone be so hateful? But I was going to focus on the good things and celebrate the fact I was out of the hospital. I still had obstacles to face, but the truth is we all do. Everyone has some obstacle to overcome, but if we persevere I believe the Lord will reward us in that, if we have faith in him.
I am not ashamed of my faith, even in school I proudly talk about the Lord, and how Jesus died for me, a few months before that Summer I was nearly expelled for speaking about my faith. I won the battle though. They had no right to discriminate against my believes when they didn’t do it to others. Being a Christian is not a bad thing, but public schools have a way of making it seem like the worst offense in the world.
As a Christian I knew I would face others who went against everything I believed, who discriminated against me simply because I was a Christian. People would try to trip me up and so would Satan, but even in the hospital when I started feeling as if the world was against me I would pray and lean on the Lord. Amazing the strength you can find on leaning on the Lord. You talk about the ultimate high.
Perhaps the reason I could accept what had happened to me in a way others did not was my face. I knew that even if I never took another step on earth I would walk the streets of heaven one day, but I wasn’t giving up on hope of a miracle. I was just counting my blessings and doing what I could to make the best out of the situation.
Before you get me wrong and think I have some kind of “Pollyanna Complex” where everything ends happily ever after I don’t. I have true faith, faith in a Lord who can turn even something negative into a positive, that is not to say I don’t get frustrated because I do, and the truth is I have shed more than my fair share of tears over what happened. There comes a time though when the tears have to dry and you have to work on picking up the pieces, or you will succeed at nothing but making yourself miserable.
I wasn’t going to spend my life making myself miserable. I was going to prove to others what I could do not waste my time thinking of misery when I could think of the blessings I was surrounded with. A huge blessing was the fact that my best friend was back, and she was doing everything in her power to help me through this. She was shocked I think at first when she saw me, I mean she knew what happened but knowing and seeing is two different things. Especially when it comes to finding out your best friend is
In a wheelchair. I mean hearing it and seeing it are two very different things.
I think once Myra saw that I wasn’t down in the dumps about everything though, that I wasn’t giving into huge fits of pity she expected things a little better. The truth is though something like this not only affects you it affects those around you. Some real concerns are thrown out, but sometimes people just get silly and start treating you like glass, thankfully that wasn’t Moms or Myra’s style. When I was strong enough I was expected to help with household chores just as I always had been of course Mom wasn’t having me put the glasses on the top shelf, but I was doing my share, and truthfully I was thankful for that. Keeping busy left less time for me to even consider feeling sorry for myself.
“Sienna I don’t know if I could be as strong as you.” Myra told me as we sat on the couch in the family room, watching television and relaxing for awhile. I had just had a long sesion of therapy and had got a few chores done, so now I had the freedom to relax and I was doing just that.
“Myra it’s not my strength it’s God’s.” I reminded her. “I pray with all my heart nothing like this ever happens to you, but you are strong in the Lord Myra, I have no doubt you could get through it just as well as I am.”
“I don’t know about that.”
I had taken after my Mom with my ability to encourage others despite what I was going through. It was a good trait I felt and I was very proud of my Mom. If someone told me I was like my Mother I took that as a great compliment one that made me feel good. My Mother was a hard working self sufficient woman who stood her ground when it came to her beliefs, taking after her was definitely a positve in my book!!!
Myra looked up to my Mother as well and I to hers. Our Mothers both worked hard to provide for their only children and had managed to find success in careers that often were dominated by men. They had both been hurt by the very men who had vowed to love them, and somehow that had only strengthened their friendships, went back to before Myra and I were born. Mom and Sheila had gone to school together, and had connected once again after college two friends, facing the challenges of finding careers after college and they had Sheila as a Literary agent, and Mom as an anchorwoman.
I think Sheila in a large part is the reason I decided to write my feelings down about what happened to me. I had always loved to write, but usually my stories were made up, something fired out of my imagination. Now I was writing about something that was real though, and it did help, getting my thoughts on paper, a journal of sorts, but something much deeper than that. In her own way Sheila had showed me that I could do it, and she had come back just in time to encourage me through this. I knew this was no accident, that she had done this for my benefit and for Myra’s and I appreciated. It was good for Mom to have a friend close by though. Her best friend, they were as close as sisters, closer than some sisters I am sure.
Sheila had given me a red Leather Journal with the word Hope etched on the cover, and that is where I began telling my story. I had no intentions on showing anyone other than maybe Sheila, Myra and Mom what I had written the thoughts were private, but after much prayer. I decided to adapt my story, leaving some parts out but I wanted to encouage others. I wanted to show others that with the Lord anything is possible even when the world tells you it is not.
Myra encouraged me as well reminding me how much my story would benefits other. Reminding me that I could tell others that people do not necessarily want or need someones pity just acceptance. Myra accepted me of course, she was my best friend the closest thing I had to a sister, and through everything even her moving across country two summers before things had not changed between us. We were soul sisters and we always would be.
Lord I know I am blessed with these people you have brought into my life, and the strength you have given me to allow me to get through this. I know some are crushed with far less, but you have shown me where true courage comes from and that is from knowing when to lean on you.The biggest reason I “adjusted” so well was the fact that I had the faith, that I knew I could lean on the Lord leaning on the Lord was important, it was something I needed to do. I found my faith in leaning on the Lord and I was blessed for that. I also had a great support system and I was blessed for that, I had a family who supported me and my best friend was by my side. I knew I had what I needed to beat the odds and to show the world just what I could do.
Now don’t get me wrong I did have those moments when things got to me, when the reality of what happened would slap me in the face. I would be reminded of the way things changed and believe me not all those changes were pleaseant. I had to face new ways of dealing with things, and as strong as I was, I certainly did have those moments when I broke down.
I found strength in the word of the Lord as well turning to my Bible when the questions.
I took a greater appreciation for the Lords word, Isaiah 40 was when we really leaned on the Lord.
Comfort for God’s People
1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling:
During the weakest moments I found myself leaning on my Mom, Myra and Aunt Sheila for the strength I could not find in myself. I was glad I had the people in my life to lean on when I needed that strength the strength I could not find in myself and I was mostly glad that I could lean on the Lord.
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the LORD[