She walks today. I said one day she would walk. One day she would run. Four fractured ribs, four fractures in her pelvis, compound fractures in her tibia and fibia of her left leg, a shattered left ankle, twelve "wings" broken off her spinal column and a level four lacarated spleen. SHE MADE IT A YEAR TODAY.
Sometimes I feel it's borrowed time. I feel as if there is no way she has made it to be sitting on the phone with me and I am living in a dream world. Today she made it one year. A year that she often crawled through... a year of surgery after surgery, triumph after triumph and tear after tear. Stephanie Suzanne Stewart Harrison stands today as one of the strongest women I know. She says the same about me. That is why we are sisters.
Last year on that fateful Saturday Stephanie went into a diabetic coma causing her small car to flip many times breaking a telephone pole and flipping end over end in the process throwing her out onto the land of farmers near her work. I got the call that morning and immediately went into shock mode. I was so far away and there was nothing we could do. She had flown so many feet in the air. No one would return my phone calls. Everything about my mother's death flashed through my mind as I prepared for the worst. There were no calls for what seemed like hours upon hours. I remember Dad calling me around 2 PM to tell me her baby had not made it, but Teffy was fighting. Still fighting? What did that mean? No one had told me she might die. I remember praying and calling many friends. I remember trying to keep busy. There was nothing we could do.
The day my mother died Stephanie and her mother went to the hospital before my Dad could get there. Mom arrived there by ambulance, but she was already gone. They were family. That day and always. I screamed at Stephanie when we were viewing the body when she quizzed me on how I felt. I cussed and screamed at her because she was my little sister and she was there. We had grown up in different crowds, yet were always close. She was an elite gymnast trying to get to the Olympics. I was a socialite trying to make Homecoming Queen. I was in she and Jason's wedding. I should have been the Maid of Honor! To see her that happy warmed my heart. I've seen this girl break her nose, her eye socket, ankles, teeth - all in gymnastics... well, teeth when she bit the trampoline railing doing flips... Stephanie is a severe diabetic so maybe it isn't far from my mind that yes, things go wrong and yes, medical situations will arise. This wasn't real.
I found out later Dad and Brenda told me she was going to be okay so I wouldn't drive to Lubbock. I was in my mode of getting things packed and letting the world stop to get to West Texas. I ran around the apartment doing everything in my power. I drove to Tyler that night to a church event. I cried the entire time. Funny, I never cry. Brenda tells me now that they didn't know she would live until later that night. I did find it strange when Dad called me at 11 PM to tell me she was stable. I thought they already knew that!
Stephanie and I have been friends since we were three and four years old. Our parents spent their weekends together meaning we were thrust together in good and bad times! I smiled last weekend as Dad told me the Stewarts were coming over. It is not my own mother, but now Brenda and no "kids" - just them having a good ole time watching television and hanging out. What a blessing. I yearn for that type of friendship with another couple. God knows His stuff...
They forced Stephanie to have her child though he was stillborn. They buried him down the road. She had a long time to deal with the mental aftermath during her hospital stay and time at home. She has always been such a strong willed young woman. I remember the first time we spoke as she was in her hospital room. I felt as if I was in a dream. We cried together and it was surreal to hear her voice.
This photo was taken a month after I lost my mother in March 2001. I love it because it shows how laughter and love truly prevail... tears will see laughter again.
We flash forward to today. Stephanie has had multiple surgeries to fix her ankle, but she is about 100 percent better. She told me the other day she wanted to go skiing. I was in shock... and she is serious. She told me she is glad she doesn't remember much of today last year. She has had a year of supportive family and friends flying around her giving her love. She is a blessed young lady. And she knows it. Sometimes it takes a life changing event to make us change our lives, but Stephanie knows each day is a gift and she is just happy to be living and breathing. She told me one of the best pieces of advice the other day about life. She said, "Don't play the game. Just live life." She says this to a woman always striving to be one of the best in a crowd of sharks. She says this as she sits there with a lovely little family and two dogs on a happy little farm in West Texas. She is living her life not caring about the game... it didn't take the tragedy to make her live this way; she just always did...
I flash back to the year after losing my mother. To the day that I stood on the mountain of a year. I broke knowing I had faced the mud and been drowned by the waves, but I stood on top with my hands raised above my head in thanks to God for allowing me to keep breathing through the pain. Today Stephanie stands on that mountain after wading through the mud and being drug through the crashing waves. Each day a battle. Each day a victory. One day at a time.
You made it, Teffy. Here's to many more mountains...