The response to my last few blogs about my accident has been overwhelming – I can’t thank you all enough for reading! I received numerous comments and questions and even had a few suggestions as to what I could possibly write about next, such as what my parents’ reactions were to everything and was there anything that inspired me and kept me going?
I’m still working on having my mom help me write a blog about my accident from her view, so tonight I will write about my inspirations…what kept me going.
As soon as word spread about my accident, I received phone calls, emails, cards, flowers, and so many prayers from all over the place. I cannot praise my family, friends, and community enough because you could feel the love and all of the prayers that were sent my way...that in itself was what kept me going. It was one of my biggest inspirations.
I still have each and every card that I received while I was in the hospital and they mean the world to me, but I have three that I would like to mention. These cards and letters hold a special place in my heart and their words were so encouraging and so helpful to me that I feel forever indebted to them.
The first letter came from Mr. Jared Estes, himself. For those of you who do not Jared, you need to get to know him. He is such an inspiration to me, as well as so many others. In 2005, Jared was in a horrific car accident – an accident that killed his wife, Paige, and left him with severe burns all over his body, especially his upper body. Throughout numerous years of physical and occupational therapy, multiple surgeries and procedures, Jared has prevailed and has done so with a constant smile on his face and the best attitude a person could ever have.
Just one year and a few months later after his accident, he sent me a letter with such encouraging words to never give up and work hard to complete my goals. In his letter, he also provided me some cash to “bribe the nurses with.” He guaranteed me that if I slip them a $20 bill, I would always get red jello (which we all know is the best flavor)! He also provided me with a bracelet that Paige had made – Jared wore this bracelet throughout his first year of rehabilitation and wanted to provide me with the good luck it had provided him...and let me tell you, it has.
I received my first bouquet of flowers the day I was moved from ICU onto the regular floor. It was an extremely colorful arrangement in a white wicker basket and had a few butterflies floating among the flowers. That same day I received a cute card from that same person which reads, “Emily - Smile, laugh, and keep strong. You are in my thoughts and prayers. –Butch”
On Sunday, July 30th, 2006 – just eight days after my accident, Butch Riegel was killed in a car accident. It shook to me to my core when my brother Jason called me to tell me the news and all I could do was cry and remember his words he wrote in that cute little card.
After my accident, Butch had told a close family friend that he just knew that everything was going to be alright and that I would be okay. I’m not certain if that was a premonition of sorts, but what I do know is that Cassidy “Butch” Riegel is my guardian angel and I feel as if he is constantly looking out for me. I hope to never disappoint him and I hope that he knows that when I take my first steps, those steps are for him.
Last, but not least, on August 16th, 2006, I received an encouraging letter from K-State’s head football coach Bill Snyder. His daughter, Meredith, was told she would never walk again after a car accident in 1992 left her paralyzed from the neck down. She defied her doctor's words and now walks with a cane, has obtained her a college degree, is married with two children, and operates her own private business.
His words and his own personal experience with his daughter’s injury so close to mine, gave me so much hope. It gave me a glimpse of what was possible in terms of life after a spinal cord injury and truthfully, it still gives me hope today. At the end of his letter, he wrote, “My thoughts and prayers will be with you each day. Get well and please come see me.” I don't know about you, but I think it might be just the time to take him up on that offer!
Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere, but for me I didn’t have to look very far…just in the stack of the letters from home.