My youngest daughter, Stefie, is leaving for college again. Leaving home. Leaving today. I can't believe today is here.
Stefie spent her first year of college away in a dorm at Texas A&M - Galveston as a Marine Biology major.
Then, something terrible happened...she and three of her fellow students and friends had gone to a football game at the main campus in College Station and on the way home, they were in a bad car accident.
We had just purchased a new car, thankfully. A little Dodge Calibur and it had all the latest airbags, which saved four lives as the car rolled and landed on its side.
Stefie, who is not a huge fan of driving, was in the backseat, behind the driver. As the car rolled and they landed with the side of the car on the ground, Stefie was hanging from her seatbelt in the air and her back had been violently jolted to the point of causing it to break.
In addition, she also had a closed head injury...a bruised brain. Her best-friend had internal injuries and had been sitting next to her in the car during the accident. She began to throw up blood in the car before they were rescued.
|You can see the car on its side in the median. The Chevy truck driver|
was a grandpa aged man and very tender-hearted toward the kids.
His truck was totalled. Our car was totalled.
Two guy friends who were in the front seat seemed to be okay, but banged up quite a bit. The girls in the backseat seemed be most injured and were the two that were hospitalized.
Even though her sweet friend had a longer hospital stay, it was Stefie who would have the longest recovery. It would take longer for Stefie to return to school. The brain injury would take at least four months to heal, but in the first weeks after the accident she was unable to retain her short-term memory and would ask the same questions over and over, not realizing she'd just asked that question already. And her broken back would create terrible enduring challenges. Both girls would be affected forever. But, both girls are strong.
One thing I can say is, after this accident, Texas A&M impressed me to no end. She and her friend were sharing a dorm room upstairs on campus. They offered to move the girls to another dorm room downstairs, but both girls were adamant about returning to their room, exactly as it had been. Sadly, it would take Stefie six weeks for her back to heal enough for her to find the ability to go up and down the stairs to get to her dorm.
But, her professors sent her work home, let her take take-home exams, worked with her by computer and made her missing weeks less stressful. A&M students would show up to help us out.
By the third day after the accident, I was literally exhausted and had not been able to sleep. I had grown physically ill. Stefie was in so much pain that she'd scream every time we had to move her; it was extremely stressful. One night, several A&M students showed up and led me to my bedroom, told me that I was not to come out of my room and that they had watched how I cared for Stefie and that they would take over for the night. And they did. Perfectly.
Stefie finished every single class. As a science major, that was not an easy feat. She finished her freshman year in style and loved attending Texas A&M. She had great friends out there and wonderful traditions to always remember.
To allow herself to heal further and to take a load off of her worries, Stefie stayed at home for the next couple of semesters. However, after doing a lot of research and changing her major to "Child-Life Specialist," she has found that Texas State is one university to actually offer a degree plan in this specific area of study, so she's finishing her degree at Texas State. Since she is in her Junior year, this decision had to be made quick. We have a wonderful university nearby, but the appeal of this specific degree being available at Texas State is too tempting to pass up. And, her boyfriend, Brice, is also a student at Texas State, of Criminology, so they will be able to help each other stay focused. They are a cute couple that way...they have a positive influence on each other to excel.
However, this means that today is the day that my baby is leaving, again. After our rather traumatic year during her Freshman year in college, I am trying to keep myself from becoming a jumble of nerves.
Deputy Dave worked on Stefie's Frontier truck yesterday. It is always nerve-wracking for me to think about her on the road for hours while driving to and from college. But, I do consider that the accident they had coming back from an Aggie game had been while another person was driving...someone who wasn't too focused on surroundings as he should have been with the huge responsibility of having the lives of others in his hands. I've always been so thankful for everyone surviving the accident that I can't even go there...the paramedics said that they were shocked there were not any fatalities at this accident due to severity of impact and the difference between the two kinds of vehicles...a big Chevy truck hit our car going full speed through an intersection on a feter road of a highway, then the car went into such violent reaction that it rolled...taking out metal signs along the way.
One of the most amazing things about this accident is that this stranger was stopping at the convenience store on the corner of the intersection...just for a cup of coffee. This young man was on his way to a wedding of a family member, a wedding where he'd also be taking photographs. Then, he heard the terrible sounds of the accident.
He ran to the site and found that the girls had been laid in the median of the road, the gas tank of the car had been punctured and everyone was concerned the car would explode. Stefie had been screaming immediately after the accident, then this young man went up to her and as she lay on the median with paramedics approaching, he held her hand and prayed for her. Later, he would tell me that he did not think that Stefie would survive; he knew she was suffering with serious injuries. He held her hand and comforted her and prayed for her out loud.
Later, in the E.R., after they finally let us see our daughter...many hours after the accident...she kept talking about her "angel" who had come to her at the scene of the accident. She has no memories of the accident itself. She barely remembers anything, but she kept talking about an angel. In fact, after the first 24 hours of the accident, she spoke about this angel constantly. Then, we found out about Chris and his presence with our daughter. A young man involved in his church, a young man who is the father of little children, a young man who missed the wedding so that he could comfort a stranger who he thought might be lying by the road dying...he comforted her and I believe his prayers were heard.
Strangely, my mother intuition knew there had been an accident. Stefie and I kept our text messages to and from each other for about a year after the accident, but approximately ten minutes before the accident, I had a dreadful, overwhelming feeling overcome my entire body and mind; I sent her a text, telling her that I was very concerned and I had a feeling the car was involved and to not worry about that car...I just wanted them all to be safe. She sent me a text back to tell me, "Mother, the car is fine and we are all great." Minutes later, everything changed. Somehow, I knew it was coming.
So, today, I am reminded of this accident because she's going to be on the road a lot again, but I am also reminded about how good God can be and how he does surround us with mysterious angels. I think that we people on earth are sometimes commissioned to do an angel's work. Without really understanding our power and influence on others, we can be put into a situation to where we might be forced to make that decision as to whether or not we should attend the wedding or kneel by the side of a suffering stranger.
I am grateful for the angels in this world and the next.
And I am happy for my daughter, that she is able to gather the strength and the courage to again venture out into the world for her education, for her self-discovery and growth while building a life of her own. That's what life is all about...finding our place and make a difference in this place.
I'm proud of my daughter. She's overcome huge hurdles at such a young age. She's beautiful, inside and out. Once she finishes the hard work of earning her degree, she will be able to help other people through their own obstacles and this girl knows about an obstacle or two. She's determined, focused and blessed. Above all, she's blessed.
Even though she's been an Aggie and once you're an Aggie, you're always an Aggie...it's wonderful that now, she's a Texas State Bobcat!!
However, today still snuck up on me. She leaves today. I will probably cry today. It's the start of a new kind of life for all of us, I feel it in my bones. She's leaving for college to finish her studies and we're leaving for the country to enjoy our lives...things will be different, oh yes, it will be different, but it sure is exciting. Even if it snuck up on me.