December 20– a day where people are running around doing last minute decorating, last minute shopping and the day many kids are finally done with school until after the new year.
December 20, 1995 – A date I don’t remember at all but it was a date that forever changed not only my life but my families life as well. The night of December 19, 1995 -My parents put me to bed as a healthy baby girl who was just learning how to crawl and roll over. On the morning of December 20, 1995 – my parents went in to check on me and something had clearly happened over the course of the night. They found me that morning laying there as as a helpless baby, unable to move any of my limbs.
No parents are ever prepared to hear the words, “Your daughter is paralyzed.” With my diagnosis being Transverse Myelitis, not many doctors had much information on it at the time. My parents took in all the information that was available and decided they weren’t going to let this situation define me or let it define our family. Little did they know what the rest of our lives had in store.
If you asked me anything about December 20, 1995 when I was little – I would say, “what, nothing happened- its no big deal.” But in reality it is. When I saw myself, I didn’t see my disability because I was able to do everything, just in a different way. I still had the ability to control who I was going to become and what I was going to do with my life. Each of us has a story in life, something that makes us different from each other. And this just so happened to be mine, so why not embrace it? Since my wheelchair is something I have grown up with my whole life- It’s been way more than a mobility device to help me get a around, it’s been a lifestyle. A lifestyle that’s made me who I am today.
The way I view life is as a deck of cards- each of us will be dealt different cards throughout our life. I have no doubt in my mind that everyone is dealt with some kind of “disability” in life- some just may be more visible than others but we each have them. We have the opportunity to take what we are given and create it into so much more. Our individual “disabilities” are what defines each of us. It’s not about what disability we may have as a person but it’s how we respond to it. We can take two paths. The first being that you tell your self there is no way to overcome and surpass it. You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself and watch your life pass by. If we keep focusing on the abilities we don’t have, we quickly forget all the abilities we do have. The second option is accepting what happened, looking at life and asking yourself what can you do with the situation on the table to help not only yourself but others around you. We go through life and things happen- many being things that we cant control. Storms pass by and we don’t know how long that storm will last but we do have the power to keep our heads up and look for the sun thats trying to shine through, even if it’s only a little.Our lives are shaped by the light we let through.
Since I remember absolutely nothing about December 20, 1995- I refer to it as “The day I got my wings.” I can confidently sit here and tell you that I have experienced way more than I ever thought was possible for an 18 year old. Don’t get me wrong, there are days I think about how my life would be different if I wasn’t in a chair. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to think about stuff life that because I go from that to thinking about my life now and all the opportunities I have had. I have been able to meet people who have inspired me, I have traveled to places I used to never know existed, I have been able to take the cards I have been dealt and make them into something great.
December 20, 2015– A day to celebrate what life has given me.
“To live with purpose. To say the courageous things. To celebrate the simple gifts. To follow your dreams. This is a happy life.”