|Posted on August 22, 2016 at 4:55 AM|
It’s been ten years since Rachel’s world was turned upside down in a blink of an eye. She asked dad to write this blog because, quite frankly, she is tired of talking about herself.
August 22, 2006 feels like a lifetime ago; yet it seems like it all happened yesterday. The call at 10:20 pm stating your daughter was shot in the head. The ride to the hospital, shaking uncontrollably the whole way. Arriving at the ER and receiving the news that Rachel has been shot twice, once in the shoulder and once in the head. The bullet is lodged too deep in the brain and there is nothing that can be done. Call family in because she probably won’t make it through the night. What a nightmare! Well, against all odds, Rachel not only survived the night, but her recovery is considered a miracle, even among the medical professionals.
Today, Rachel is without a doubt, the happiest, most upbeat person I know. Anyone who has ever met her will have to agree. People are always asking if she was always this happy. What was she like before the injury? My response is that this injury didn’t change her personality one bit. She is the same person today as she was ten years ago. Sure, she has left side weakness, memory loss and other issues, but Rachel’s personality, character and spirit are intact. Her faith, kindness, honesty and wit is still very much a part of her being today as it was ten years ago. I still haven’t gotten over all the mean-spirited comments about Rachel, her friends and family from the “uninformed” (I’m being nice) by means of letters to the editor, radio talk shows, snail mail and even phone calls. If only these people would have spent one minute with my daughter, they would have walked away with a much different perspective.
Here are a few events that I can remember from before the injury that best describes how Rachel was and still is:
Everyone had gathered on the football field and made a large circle around those who were speaking. I ended up standing next to a young man I'd never seen before (and to be honest I never saw him again). Everyone was sharing their favorite Rachel "stories" and I asked him how he knew her. He said he didn't really know her but that the first day of class she walked into the room and sat next to him. "I'm the kid no one sits next to and she walked right up, asked if anyone was sitting there, sat down, and started talking to me. And every day after that she came in smiling and talked to me." I definitely got the feeling that didn't happen to him often. He said that's what he liked the best about her - she treated everyone the same no matter who you were. "She was so popular and I'm the opposite but she didn't care."
It’s interesting how a tragic event like this can affect the people surrounding you. Whether they just can’t stand to see Rachel injured, or perhaps they don’t know how to deal with it, or maybe they just don’t want to be burdened, but whatever the reason, some people who were once close to Rachel have backed away. BUT, so many new, wonderful people have entered her life. The ones now in her life just make her recovery all the more remarkable. Rachel’s place of employment, The Gentle Dentist, did not have to hire her especially only a couple of years removed from the injury. They took the chance, put her under their wings and made Rachel flourish. She is so much a part of their team and if not for them, I shudder to think where Rachel would be in her recovery. Thank you, Gentle Dentist!
What Rachel has lost bothers me more than words can describe. But not Rachel, she always smiles and says these are the cards that were dealt and God wants me to make the most of it. She always compares her situation to someone who has it worse and realizes how fortunate she is.
Rachel remembers all the wonderful support she received following the injury and she wants very much to pay it forward. For years now, she has volunteered weekly at “A Kid Again”, an organization that allows children with life-threatening illnesses to feel like a kid again. Just this last Friday she received the 2016 “Volunteer of the Year” award. How proud she makes us!
There have been many triumphs and also a few set-backs these past ten years. So much has been taken away from Rachel and there are times I become sad when I start dwelling on this, but then all it takes is for Rachel to greet me with a smile after a long day asking me how my day went. I know now all is right with the world again.
We love you, Rachel . . . looking forward to what the next 10 years will bring!