On August 7, 2013 our lives changed forever. It was an ordinary rainy Summer Wednesday and I was working from home. My wife had gone to work, though her students would not begin class for another week. My oldest daughter, Dee had been invited to go bowling with her best friend early that morning. Though, little did she know, this was the last time she would see her friend alive.
Dee's friend arrived late morning to pickup Dee from my wife's school, along with her mother. They chatted with my wife briefly and departed. The rain was only getting worse at this point. They were not traveling far, though they needed to return a book to our local library before they enjoyed the amazing loaner footwear at the bowling alley. This would be their last stop.
After exiting the library parking lot, they departed down a mildly windy road and the roads were terribly slick. One can only assume how many vehicles were hydroplaning that morning. As they drove down the road a sharp curve was presented, and the control of the vehicle was quickly lost. The vehicle hydroplaned around the sharp bend and it ended up in the opposite lane.
An oncoming vehicle t-boned them with almost no warning. The mother died upon impact, while her daughter remained unconscious. Dee was also unconscious in the back seat.
Within two minutes of the accident, first responders were on the scene. It was clear that the friend needed urgent medical attention and the emergency responders acted quickly to get her to a specialized care unit in North Atlanta. Due to the low visibility and severe rain, the critical response unit from the Children's Hospital could not fly to the scene, instead the team was rushed up by local highway to care for Dee's friend and transport her to the hospital. Dee would soon follow.
Approximately one hour later, I received a text message from my wife with "911" displayed. I had not seen this message since the days of the pager; it must've been urgent. The EMS unit had identified Dee, and through the county's resources located my wife as her mother. They were calling to share that she had been in an accident, but she was "okay" -- I realize now why they always say the same thing to parents, as I was driving erratically assuming it was not severe.
Upon arriving at the emergency room of the Children's Hospital we met Dee with what appeared to be severe cuts and scrapes on her face, as well as several cuts and bruises on her limbs. She was beat up pretty badly, though all things considered, a very, very lucky little girl. She suffered facial fractures, a concussion, mild internal bleeding, and severe bruising from the impact. Once we determined that Dee was going to be well, simply needed to recover and heal with hospital care, we met some of the Sheriff's Office scene responders. Within seconds, it was revealed that her friend's mother did not survive, and her best friend was brain dead with little hope of survival.
Queue all of the assumed emotions...
Dee's best friend passed away less than 48 hours later.
As you may imagine, this moment in time changed my life, and many lives forever. I lost a family member in 2001 who was a first responder on 9/11, so to hear that they were on scene within two minutes of the accident was a proud moment! We are extremely thankful and blessed to have such amazing people who act selflessly to help others. They do so without any expectation of payment or reward. These acts of generosity and kindness are what truly inspired me.
As my family moved on, we knew that we were blessed, and could never take anything for granted; though, we could never give back the amount of support received, it was that tremendous. Our lives were changed forever, and though I still have the fear of losing my child, she is still here, and I can only imagine she is destined for great things. I am committed to ensuring that she has every opportunity to change the world, as I truly believe she survived with a purpose. What this purpose is cannot be determined yet, though I am certain that it exists. My mission is to enable this purpose at any cost.
Sometimes inspiration comes from the darkest of times. These moments will change you forever. It is up to you to decide if you will let it knock you down, or rise up, inspired and motivated to learn and grow.
Live life to the fullest! Remember what others have done for you. Help someone else achieve something great, even if that great thing is simply a smile. When you awake, will your agenda for the day be something you regret, or something you proudly remember?
It is up to you, and only you. Live proudly. Act accordingly.
Enable the dreams of others.
"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away."
*Some names have been changed to protect the identity of minors.