Helen was uneasy all day. “Something’s wrong,” she said at dinner. When she got home at 8:30 pm, the phone rang. It was my college roommate. “Helen, Stacy was in a diving accident. She broke her neck.”
She arrived in the ER to find my head in a C-Clamp, tubes down my nose and throat, heart monitors on my chest, and IV’s in each arm, paralyzed from the neck down. She looked down at me, and all I could say was, “I’m sorry mom, please don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad at you, honey; we’ll get through this,” she said, touching my face.
I spent the night in the ICU; my mom spent the night outside my door. The next day the doctors told my mom I would never walk again. She never told me.
“Imagine yourself running along the beach,” she said, sticking with me for a month in the hospital and three months in rehab. She learned to give me shots, medicine, and stretch my legs. She helped me re-enroll in college and accompanied me to class, taking notes, because my fingers were still paralyzed, and typed my papers at work. She lifted my heavy wheelchair in and out of the car, driving me to therapy three mornings a week and to class at night. Two years later, I walked on crutches to graduate magna cum laude, my mom by my side.
In 1999, my mom walked with me to complete the New York City Marathon in 11 ½ hours. Today I am grateful to be a wheelchair athlete, Ms. Wheelchair Ohio 2002, a motivational speaker and an author. For every dream, I can count on my mom to be cheering. She never let my broken neck break my spirit.
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