Six months ago I woke up in a hospital room in La Mesa, Texas, with no recollection of how I got there. I looked to my left upon hearing my father’s voice to see him lying in the hospital bed next to me. I soon learned we had been in a serious car wreck. My world had already been crumbling in the previous months, and in this moment it began crashing down completely.
A million thoughts raced through my head: Does my mom know? Does my family know? Can I go back to school? Where is all this pain coming from? How bad are my injuries? How far behind in class will I be? Will I be able to study abroad this summer as planned?
I was determined from the start to go back to school, a week later than everyone else, but back to school I would go. My family begged me to take a semester off. Having been hit on my side of the vehicle at 80 mph left me with a liver laceration, a hemothorax (fancy medical term for a blood blister) on my lung, and in a generally fragile and exhausted state.
Doctors put me on two months of restricted activity, where I could not lift anything heavier than five pounds for fear of reopening my internal wounds. On top of it all I was under chiropractic care for stretched ligaments in my neck, dislocated ribs and other various bone dislocations. I went for appointments three times a week until I started improving. Saying I was easily exhausted and in constant pain was an understatement. I pushed through and did my best though.
Soon after the wreck my Great Aunt Mary, whom I had just reconnected with in the previous year, passed away. My Great Aunt’s death left me emotionally vulnerable again. Just two months after the accident my dad was struck by a drunk driver on his way home from work, sending him back to treatment after he had just been medically released from the first accident. Again I was shaken and broken.
In the months prior to the wreck in West Texas, two events had brought my world to a screeching halt. My longtime best friend was horribly brutalized in her own home. A man had broken into her apartment in the middle of the night, robbed and raped her then forced her to drive him to an ATM to obtain more money. By the grace of God, he let her go and her life was saved. Ironically the second event began with the same best friend. We found a kitten in a parking lot on my birthday in November 2016. I kept the kitten that was only a couple of weeks old so I had to bottle feed him, causing me to fall instantly in love with him. Six weeks later a tragic accident took the life of my sweet boy.
For weeks after both events I would randomly break down into tears. Needless to say this six-month span of my life from October 2016 to March 2017 were the hardest of my life. I did not know what to do other than to cling to my family. And I held on for dear life. I went home every weekend and found comfort and peace in their presence. They were there to comfort me through it all and help me build my strength back up.
During the weeks leading up to my study abroad trip to Budapest I was very nervous. I had clung to my family so tightly, and I hadn’t been away from them for more than five days in the five months leading up to me leaving for Europe. I had seen the pain and grief life can throw your way and I was terrified something bad would happen again while I was gone. I expected to be terribly homesick.
Surprisingly I wasn’t. The day I boarded the plane I became calm, after having a small breakdown the day before and having nerves through the roof the whole weekend before leaving. Upon arrival in Budapest I was calm and content. I did miss my family but not in a heart wrenching way where I called home every day. I was excited to be in this new place and to be back independent again. Coming to Budapest was just what I needed.
I found my independence again and my confidence was boosted.
I had to navigate a new city on my own. I had to figure out the language and how to communicate. I had to find the grocery store and learn where everything was. These tasks were second nature to me back home. I had to relearn but this time I was all on my own. I did not have my parents there to teach it all to me. I found my independence again and my confidence was boosted.
The wreck also left me with a different outlook on everything. When I had to face my own mortality there were two roads I could have taken. I could have decided to let fear dictate my life and never gotten behind the wheel again and never traveled again, or I could have pulled myself back up and done everything in my power to see everything in this world I wanted to see and to hold my family a little bit closer. Being in Hungary and able to travel around Europe is so much sweeter. I have taken it all in even deeper than other times I have traveled. Tomorrow is never guaranteed so I enjoy every moment in a new place, never stress the small things and love on my family more than before.