Her Silence

Q: How will your presence enrich our community?

The cell phone beeped at the bottom of my mom’s white purse and she instinctively reached down and grabbed it. We carried on with our conversation as she punched in the password for her voicemail. Within seconds, I could see that this was no ordinary message. All the color drained from her face and her mouth hang open. “What’s wrong, mom?” I asked her. As her green eyes glazed over with tears, I began to question her more. “Mom, what’s going on? What happened?” Her silence told me everything I needed to know. She began to muster some words out. When the words all came together, I realized my best friend was in an accident and was now paralyzed. I was in the car going sixty miles per hour, yet everything in my life stood still. It was the day that the world stopped turning, and the next few minutes were the most surreal of my life.

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For the next two months, I spend almost every day in the hospital with my friend. It was hard to see her in agony, so I would figure out ways of getting her mind off the pain. Before her accident, I told her we would go polka dancing together (my family is German) but now she couldn’t dance, so I dressed up in an old lederhosen and danced for her and the hospital staff. I would give her the latest drama update from school, and tell her every last detail of what happened that day. Whether it was a stuffed animal or just an encouraging word, I would always bring something when I came to visit. Every time I walked through the hospital doors, no matter how much pain she was in, she would always put a brave face on and smile.

I learned that even on my worst day, I truly am fortunate. I came to admire her strength and perseverance. She thought I was the one helping her, but in reality, she was helping me. Up until that point, I had always thought of myself as a giving person. Her journey made me realize I can never give too much. She reminded me that I can give all I have, and still get even more back.

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Kalli Lynne Krueger

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