Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lydia Herrle - Inspiration, Beauty and Courage

On May 23rd, I posted about a local girl, Lydia Herrle, who against all odds had survived a devasating accident a year ago.  Her journey is one of recovery post traumatic brain injury and coma after being hit by a garbage truck while getting off her school bus across the street from her house.

She has spent this past year undergoing intensive therapy first at a children's rehab hospital and then at home.  She has had to relearn everything:  to talk; to eat; to walk.  She still has on-going affects from the accident.

She has come quite a way in this past year.  Yet, she still has far to go in her journey of recovery.  How far will she be able to go?  At this point, that is anyone's guess as she has progressed further faster than anyone could have predicted after such a devastating accident that most people do not survive from.

Yet, this year a little more than a year after the accident, she stood up at her grade 8 graduation from public school (a big thing in our region) and gave a four minute speech.  One she had written herself.  One she had practiced at home many times.

Her speech was slurred, indicative of the brain injury she is recovering from.  Someone was with her to remind her of her place in the speech when she forgot.

But she did it.

I have taken the liberty of copying the text of her speech posted in her parent's blog Pray for Lydia.  Although the format didn't translate well from their blog to mine, it is still worth reading.

Because although Lydia's message is, in a sense, all about her, it has a deeper message to all of us.  Something we all need to hear.

The message, a stirring reminder for those of us who have been traumatically injured whether through a losing confrontation with a garbage truck or the unending impact of dealing with hostile co-workers on a daily basis, is one we all need to not only hear, but internalize.

As promised, here is Lydia's speech that she gave at her grade 8 graduation in text form. 

I can do anything. I have learned this truth this past year. I have been on a hard journey of recovery. I could have died, but God gave me a second chance to live, and life is a precious gift. I am doing my best to live fully, to treasure the life that I have been given.

I want to share the hope that I have. I want to ignite a flicker of hope in others, reminding them that anything is possible.

I spent 2 months in a deep coma, at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, where I could not talk, or walk, or even move on my own. From July until October, I was at Holland Bloorview, a children’s rehab hospital. In August, when I was at home visiting my family, on my dad’s birthday, I spoke my first sentences. This past school year, I have spent at home with therapists, teachers and support workers, and I have relearned how to walk, balance, think and communicate. I am recovering.

Our attitudes are very important. They shape us. They have a huge impact on life. It is important to not face each day with a crummy attitude. Instead, put on a smile, be thankful, and face each day with hope and strength.

“Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% of how we react to it.” We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control our attitudes. Expect the unexpected - something totally out of the ordinary, and when that happens, you’ll be ready to embrace it, whatever “it” is.

Over the last year, I have gone through many mixed emotions. There were times at night, when I felt like giving up, but God gave me hope. In the morning, I awoke with a new perspective, renewed faith, and determination. When hard times come your way, when the unexpected happens, do not lose hope or give up. Have faith, a positive attitude and you’ll find strength for each step of your journey. Thank you for encouraging me in mine.

Click on the first link in this posting to watch the YouTube video of Lydia giving her graduation speech.
As a survivor of workplace abuse who still copes daily with "altered abilities" caused by the abuse, I felt like standing up and shouting "Amen!"

Her message was what I needed to hear. What we all need to hear.

We are victims, yes, of unforeseen circumstances.  But at the same time, we are survivors as well.

How far will any of us go?

That depends.

How much effort are we willing to make in the effort?

How much support do we have?

Today, I leave you with these questions to mull over as you walk your own individual path.  Today, my path leads me to my counsellor to mull over all the issues I've been processing as I write this blog.

May God go with you on your journey.

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