One thing I know about life is it's uncertainty. As a young girl, I knew I what I wanted to be when I grew up and I couldn't wait to have the most fun and handsome husband and to become a mother to my incredible children. I didn't know that life includes things we plan for and things we don't plan for. And the things we don't plan for can often be the greatest lessens we ever learn in life. If we let it.
I was only 23 years old when I experienced the greatest heartache I think I could possibly experience. My body and heart were broken as Shawn, Sage, and I were hit by a drunk driver, they were killed instantly, my brain collided against my skull and the bones in my body broke. As I laid comatose, each breath I took became harder and louder. Quickly, an ambulance arrived with paramedics hooking me up to a ventilator, and taking me to St. Alphonsus where I laid still in bed for three weeks with many family, friends, and strangers praying for my life to continue. Their prayers were answered as I began breathing on my own again and slowly came out of the coma. Picture a mirror being dropped onto a tile floor. You would see broken pieces and fragments of that mirror scattered. If you want, you can pick up the pieces and glue the mirror back together, but it will never be the same mirror it used to be. My bones have healed and grown back together, but my broken heart still remains and I am not the same Natalie I used to be. Like the definition of broken, my life changed direction abruptly and I had to decide if I wanted to piece myself back together. That is a choice each of us have. It may not happen as fast as putting a broken mirror back together, but if we want to and if we put forth the effort, we can feel whole again, even if it is a different whole. Richelle E. Goodrich said, “You will find there are times you must grasp your life with both hands and forcefully steer it in a new direction and then strain to hold your course until the storms of fear, weakness, and doubt abate.” It can be very hard to keep holding on during that storms of life, but we must grab ahold with both hands and know we are in control.
Visiting my doctors, nurses, and therapists at St. Alphonsus recently and sharing with them the huge accomplishments I have made since they saw me last made me feel victorious. I didn't let my traumatic brain injury keep me from going back to college and receiving my bachelors degree. I didn't let my broken body stop me from training for and crossing the finish line of two half marathons.
We can't choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react. Remaining broken won't give you the accomplishments or happiness we are all in need of. I am grateful I have chosen to not remain broken.