Julia, you don’t know me, but your life has touched many in these brief 18 years you’ve journeyed through. Yesterday two people from two completely separate circles in my life sent messages about you, the accident and requests for prayer and God’s healing grace. Your touch and reach in this world, though so young, says a lot about the wonderful, thoughtful, caring woman you are.
Julia, you don’t know me, but I know you. I see the love others have for you. I see your gorgeous face shining with happiness in the pictures in my inbox.
That is not how I know.
I know your Mom and the heartache she’s experiencing. I know the feelings you have underneath the constant pulse of pain – a mixture of fear, hope, gratefulness and terror.
I know you Julia because I was you, and now I am here.
If knowing me – like I know you – helps you have hope. Helps you to believe. Helps you to understand.
Here I am.
Ten years ago, on August 28, 2005, I was struck by a car that crashed into my Volvo head-on. The young man who was driving that vehicle was 18 years old, a Senior in High School. Ramiro was going 107mph. I was driving 55. Because I had a split second where I saw him coming I was able to swerve slightly before the collision. That swerve resulted in him hitting me at an angle with the impact directly to me, the driver.
I was conscious for the 24 minutes it took Air Rescue to arrive to extricate me from my vehicle. The impact and collision had amputated my right leg at the knee and broke all of the bones in that leg, as well as shattering both ankles, feet and my right arm.
After months being in the hospital, many infections, 17 surgeries and a year of physical therapy I was out of the wheelchair and home walking with my two precious children who were 4 months old and 2 years old at the time of the accident.
They were not in the car.
My Volvo was on fire; I was stuck in the car, and my leg was removed at the knee by the steering wheel that had pierced it in two except for one tendon holding on strong bridging the divide.
The steering wheel acted as the necessary tourniquet.
The surgeons at Jackson were able to save my life. They were also able to save my leg. I limp now as a result of an infection that resulted in the parts of my knee being removed. I can’t bend my right leg at the knee, but I walk of my own accord. Walk very quickly, I feel free to add. Walk very gratefully, happily, thankfully.
I tell you this story because I am a walking miracle.
Our God is a good God.
Our God is bigger.
Our God can use all things, even horrific things, for good.
Our God performs miracles. I am walking proof.
I realized the same thing you will when I woke up at the hospital. If God wanted to take me home I would have died during the accident. The journey back home for me was hellish and filled with pain.
The journey that we’re taking together all of these years apart is a difficult one, full of potholes and tears. There are days that are terrifying. There are days that are inspiring. There are days filled with love that will steady you and pull you through.
I knew God had me survive for many purposes. My purposes include my kids and the opportunity to live this story out loud for others who need hope in Him.
Julia, I am here. I have laid where you lay now. I uniquely understand your journey.
I understand your fear; I understand your sorrow; I understand your hope; I understand your pain. I understand the burden you feel needing help from everyone all of the time and how that is impacting your family. I understand how hard it is to watch people suffer as they help you.
You will feel as if no one can understand.
I want you to know that I do.
I also want you to know that I am here.
I am you and I am walking. I am you and I am happy. I am you and I am safe. The memories of this trial are present, but don’t consume me.
Someday, you will be me. It is a long journey. It is not easy. I want to tell you, Julia, you don’t know me, but I know you. You don’t know me, and I believe in you.
Here is me at different stages of the recovery, and here I am now with my children.
I hope to see a similar picture of you smiling, happy and confidently upright at just the right time that is right for you. Until then, you don’t know me, but I know you and there will not be a day that goes by that I am not praying for you.