Friday, July 20, 2007

Courage

This is a long post. You might want to go brew up a cup of tea before you get started here!

Two years ago, rock bottom reared up and hit her with a wallop.
Two years ago, she was reminded how precious life actually is.
Two years ago, she started over.
Learned that family love is for always. That you can always go back home.
Two years ago, she began her first steps of taking back her life and learning that she was her own master.
I had given up hope of making her see the wonderful woman I knew she was.
She had given up, and nothing I could say would be heard. Eventually I stopped trying to change the course of her life. I foresaw a steady decline and after a couple of years, could no longer bear to witness her decent into her hellish existence.
It hurt so much to put up that wall. But I had to protect my own heart, which was near broken from seeing the suffering which she didn't seem to care to escape from. I was depressed and exhausted with worry. Part of me was dying because I felt I had lost my sister.
She lost custody of her children, and I knew that had to be killing her. Despite all her issues, I never doubted that she loved those kids. After that, I existed in a world where every phone call could possibly be the Police saying she had taken her own life or accidentally overdosed . . One day that phone call came.
We were on vacation half way across the country, at a family reunion of my husbands side. Keith took me aside and said lets go for a drive, just us two. I thought he just wanted a moment of peace from all the hubbub of the relatives. He just drove us a block away and pulled over. He told me he had received a call on his cell from Carols former partner, the father of her children. Oh GOD! I closed my eyes and waited for him to tell me she was dead.
She was hurt, real bad and was in the trauma unit. He didn't get details of how, what or why, just that she was in very serious condition. Right then, our holiday was over. We went and packed everything up and the next morning headed back for home.
When I walked into her hospital room, all the animosities and resentments that had been between us for the past year or so were vanished. Instantly, once more, we were just sisters. Everything that had been wrong was gone. Our love for each other rose up from the depths as we cried together. I wanted to take her in my arms and hold her tight, but her body was so broken that all I could do was kiss her cheek and hold her one good hand.
She had been beaten black and blue by her drug dealer boyfriend. In a frenzy, he had viciously assaulted her, tried to break her neck. But some thing happened as he was strangling her. She started thinking of her children and didn't want them to grow up without a mother. Suddenly, she wanted to live like she had never done before. She found strength in her love for her children to fight him off. As sirens drew closer, he snapped. Telling her"Now look what you have done. All your screaming, has the cops coming". Then he went to the closet where he kept his gun threatening that he was going to kill her. She believed him. The closet door blocked the way to the apartment exit, and she dared not try to leave by going past him. He was like a mad man. Pure adrenalin launched her beaten body out the closest window. Unfortunately, it was three stories high. That's when rock bottom came up to meet her.
When she landed, she had crushed several vertebrae and shattered her right hand.
Surgeons spent hours trying to fuse her back together. Her saving grace, is that her spinal cord was not damaged, so she would recover. How well, would have to be seen. They put fourteen inch rods along either side of her spine, used bone composite to mould new vertebrae, and pinned the rods to what good vertebra she had left. Her hand , they said, looked like a bag of potato chips that had been hit with a sledge hammer. They had pieces of bone that they didn't know what to do with.
She was bed ridden for two full weeks. Only able to move with assistance, being sure to keep her back fully aligned , turning in a log roll. Then a full body brace was made for her. She could only get up out of bed with it on. Every movement caused excruciating muscle spasms to course though her whole body. It was mid summer, and that brace was thick plastic. She would be sweating from both pain and the heat of this brace after just a few minutes up. Her first few weeks she could take just a few baby steps at a time. Some days she was afraid to get up at all, because she knew it was going to hurt! We all took turns sitting by her bed, putting cool compresses on her back. It would be a while before she would be able to sit in a chair.
I had her children stay with us as it was summer vacation. They swam in the pool every day.
She would go to the window to watch them for a few minutes. Glad to see them having a little bit of fun. After all, They hadn't witnessed the attack, but were old enough to realize their mom could have died. When they weren't swimming, her daughter spent much of her time clinging to her mom. The same day she was in the trauma unit, Her daughter was in the cast clinic with a broken arm, she had fallen on a slide when her other aunt had taken them out. So they were broke arm buddies together. When she was in the pool she had plastic bread bags taped over it!
As bad as it was for her, the physical recovery was a breeze compared to the emotional healing she had to face. For weeks she woke up terrified, dreaming that he was coming for her. Though he was in prison now, she couldn't shake the fear he had instilled into her. I had taken a leave of absence from my job and was nursing her in my daughters room. She took a lot of comfort from our dog and cat, who would lay with her for hours. We had lots of time for some long soul searching chats, which were the beginning of her "counselling" After a few months, she got stronger, and I was able to take her to a support group and for counselling.
She has never looked back. Since that day, She has been working hard to remake her life.
She has relearned the value of the person she is. She is recovered from the injuries as well as can be expected. She is back to work and in a place of her own. The almost two years she spent here have brought us to a closeness we never had before. We learned a lot about each other.
She has more courage than just about anyone I know.
She has said to me...
"Two years ago, I hit rock bottom. It was the best day of my life!"
Happy Anniversary Carol. I love you and admire your strength and courage. Keep up the fight to live. If you can pull through that, you can do anything!

16 comments:

Bobbie - said...

I've had the pleasure of meeting your sister. God was watching over her that day in the apartment. He knew how much she loved her children!

Happy Anniversary Carol! It's been a long, hard road but you've become a stronger person because of what happened to you. ((hugs))

leslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leslie said...

What a wonderful testimony to your sister. God certainly was watching over her, giving her the strength and perseverence to get through both the physical and emotional pain and come out a better person. I'd like to share with you a small section from the Bible that has always upheld me in all my trials.

Romans 5:3b-5 we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

I'm so glad your sister is doing so much better and I pray that the road will now be much easier for her and her children. Thanks for sharing your story.

Monica said...

I've followed Carol's story somewhat over the past couple of years and you are right...and I'm glad she's doing so much better. Happy anniversary to her and her children and to you for having your sister with you, stronger and better than ever.

Take care of you...that's to BOTH of you. :)

sharon said...

Wow, what an amazing story. She is a lucky woman for so many reasons. Just to be alive today being one of them, but having a sister who loves her as much as you do is truly a gift that I'm sure she will be thankful for forever. Thank you for sharing and please pass on your blogging friends' congrats. She's been through a lot and now she has the rest of her life to look forward to.

Vickie said...

I knew some of this from her "blogging days" I often felt her courage and strength when she shared with us.

Both of you are blessed that her angel was looking over her two years ago.

I miss the special touch she had and shared with us when she was blogging.

Congratulations and best wishes to a very strong lady---may her life be nothing but happiness in the day to come.

Thank you for sharing such a personal story, one which is full of inspiration.

Deanna said...

Best story of the day in my books.

Penny Halston said...

What a powerful story of courage, hope, and especially love. Thank you for sharing this very personal story.

Wind Blossom said...

Just simply amazing!

Canadian flake said...

wow what an amazing story. I can't imagine the misery she has endured and she sounds like a truly remarkable lady. Happy anniversary and keep up the good work!!!

sot said...

so very inspiring...

best wishes for your sister's continued recovery...

Maureen said...

Love is a powerful emotion and can keep you going even when hope is gone.What an amazing lady.The only way is up now.Well done Carol.Always remember,it's not how often you get knocked down that matters ,it's how often you get back up that counts.

Walker said...

Where do I start and where do I end this comment.
You know I am no stranger to her life becuase I have lived it, seen it and felt it.

No one can tell someone to stop doing something that is hurting them and others.

You can't force them to be what they don't want to be.
They have to find their way back to the living.

Drugs rob a peron of their life but not thier soul, it just blinds it enough so they can't see what is right but there comes a day when ones soul brightens up enough for that person to see what they are missing in life.

It's to bad your sister had to hit rockbottom but it was the only way she could bounce back to be the person she always could have been.

You are a strong and wopnderful sister to hang in there for her and the backbone she needed to become strong once more.
You never closed her off, you gave her what she wanted until she realized you were right and came back.

Beautiful post and congratulations to your sister for being the strong woman you always knew she was.

Have a nice day

Herman Verbrugge said...

I'm very impressed by this story. Everything I wanted to say has already been said here. And Walker, that is a wonderful comment you wrote. Best whishes and congratulations to Carol and her children. How strong are family ties?.... You and Keith are the answer.

Annie. aka.Urban_Woman said...

Wow Carol. I have the pleasure of working with you, and never knew any of this. I already admired your personality and fun sense of humor but now I admire even more so your strength and resilience to bounce back to become who you are today. Congratulations Our Carol and may God always keep you and your family close to his heart.

debbie Welsh said...

This was a true heart felt story; one of courage, resiliency and the will to live. Thank-you for honoring your sister and yourself with such a meaningful piece of work. That which comes from the heart touches the hearts of others. My heart has certainly been deeply touched and impacted.

Yours in spirit,

Debbie Welsh