Winds of Change

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eight years ago Lauren Kearney honored her fallen friend by donning a white gi for her performance on the nighttime stage at the 2003 Ocean State Grand Nationals. This year, 2011 and every day in between, she has continued to honor her young friend through the way in which she lives her life and in the way she shares her love and knowledge of the martial arts. Her greatest contribution to this art form, I believe, is in the way she has mentored and inspired others. This weekend is an example of that inspiration.

Tori loved the martial arts and aspired to reach the very top. She showed it through her approach to training and her approach to life. Even at a young age she showed the ability to lead. I clearly remember a time when only 10 years old, she was asked along with her brother to be a guest instructor at a summer training camp at a school in Massachusetts. She walked through the reception area and into the dojo with a confidence well beyond her years, looked her charges straight in the eye and began her lesson. She started by giving a short demonstration of a traditional form-saying as she performed-“traditional forms are about stances and focus and, having said that…let’s get started”. Unfortunately Tori was not able to complete what she started because of a choice of another.

The Winds of Change was about so much more than a free seminar. It was about what you CAN do, what you CAN be and what you NEED to do to get there. It was and is about the choices we make in life as individuals and about how those choices can have far reaching consequences, both positive and negative, so far beyond ourselves. It is how the choices you make in life dictate how those moments play out and how they will become either moments you long to relive or live to regret.

The Winds of Change is a moment to relive. It brought together individuals and entire teams to stand alongside one another and participate in something that celebrated a sport they love and supported a concept that when adopted, changes the future. It changes the future by ensuring that we as individuals will think through the choices we make and act in accordance with a positive outcome. It acknowledges there is a CHOICE in every MOMENT, celebrating the COURAGE found to make a difference and guarantee HOPE for the future of all.

John Paul Mitchell Systems and Macho Products Incorporated added to the success of our event with their support.

To the members of Change The Game-thank you. It is an honor to have met you and worked alongside you. Your commitment is visible through your thought, word and deed.
Team Paul Mitchell. We have always felt a special affinity throughout the years and now are forever bonded. You gave of your time, and of yourself-we are incredibly humbled and thankful to have had this opportunity to work together.

For 18 years, I have had the pleasure of knowing Don and Christine Rodrigues, the promoters of the OSGN and to be able to call them coach, Shihan, Sensei and friend. With all of the responsibility and commotion that engulfs them for months out of the year in preparation for this event they are always still able to be there for others when needed. They have been a great source of comfort and support for our family. And, to be able to host the Winds of Change at this event was incredibly meaningful. The OSGN, our hometown tournament, was always our premiere event, everyone wanted to win in their own backyard. This weekend we won big. To say thank you seems inadequate. To repay them is impossible. The OSGN, and its promoters, Don and Christine Rodrigues, are living examples of what we can accomplish when making choices in our lives that leave a positive impact on ourselves and others.

It has been incredibly gratifying to read the feedback of this event. People have shared how they believe the Winds of Change has changed their outlook on life. There seems to be a prevailing feeling of gratitude for the blessings bestowed on them in life and a conscious effort to not take things for granted. Life as you know it can change in a moment. Take a moment to make the change right for you and your future. Remember…, only you can power THE WINDS OF CHANGE.

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Day 2920: The 8th Year

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eight years have passed, and reflection of those years, especially the early days, have consumed me. I have found the need to revisit them. To be able to fully appreciate where we are now I needed to fully remember where we had been. And with the embracing of that memory comes a flood of so many others - memories from before the crash and how life "used" to be.

When I began to Journal I titled each entry by noting the Day. Entries titled, Day 61 Memorial Day or Day 80 Angels. When I journaled Day 365 Moments, I vowed that to survive and to move forward it would be necessary to start anew and with that I withdrew the practice of counting the days. At least in theory - for in my heart and in my mind the tally continues.

And so, now it has been 2920 days since I heard my little girl say my name and wrap her arms around me. It has been 96 months without my co-pilot joining me in song while driving down the road and it has been 8 years filled with sadness, loss, uncertainty and fear. It would be remiss of me not to state that it has also been 8 years filled with unconditional love. For I realize that even with, or in spite of, all of the pain - there is still joy. It is in the quiet moments, in the little victories we see our greatest accomplishments and feel the greatest love.

I believe that with life there is hope. I believe in honoring my daughters indominable spirit. I believe in seeing the glass half full . And while I can not bring myself to say " I believe everything happens for a reason," I do know that my reason for facing and embracing life as I do is because of a pair of big chocolate brown eyes that stare back into mine.

I also believe in Angels. We have been blessed with them from the beginning and the following entry speaks to that belief.

Angel of the Night

A beam of light split the darkness. Slowly the thin ray widened creating a surreal illuminated path in the room. And without warning, an object stepped into the light. She stood unmoving, bathed in the glow creating a soft edge to her silhouette. I rubbed the delusion of sleep from my eyes, trying to wrap my consciousness around our visitor.

I shifted in the hospital conversion chair. A unique contraption, a poor substitute but welcome gift of a bed. As I rustled to attention a voice interrupted the silence and a peaceful feeling settled about the room.

This was the first of what was to be many visits. She always came in the dark of night – becoming part of my restless sleep. She came to speak of angels and her name was Paula. Latin in origin, Paula means small or humble. Yet there was nothing small about our angel of the night. Her impact was immense. It was as though she entered our shelter and spread her winds, engulfing and protecting us from what lurked in the shadows. Always after her visits I was able to put my head down, close my eyes and give way to slumber.

One morning I awoke to find a book, The Sacred Magic of the Angels, on the table next to me. I searched my mind faintly remembering seeing Paula float effortlessly through our room in the quiet of the night. Tori was not yet awake and I took advantage of this time to become acquainted with our gift. The Chapters spoke of Transition, The Language of Omens, and The Healing Tree of Life. Flipping through the pages I sensed it would speak to bands of Angels and their presence in our everyday life. I longed for an opportunity to press Paula for information about her choice in reading material. She appeared that very evening. And as we sat huddled around the faint bulb of a nightlight, her features took on a heavenly serene transformation. “Petition the Angels,” she said. “Make your intentions known.” Her voice, barely a whisper, danced in the air. Its melodic tone entertained my ears as she spoke of the process by which our Angels reveal themselves in our time of need. We must have sat for hours and yet suddenly the morning sun tempted the night sky with its brilliance, teasing the horizon with barely a hint of what was to come. And then she was gone.

Now awakened, blindfold removed, I saw Angels everywhere. How had I not noticed before? They seemed to be around every bend. Later that evening as Tori slept I was lulled by the machines that constantly monitored her vitals. While sleep did not come, inspiration did and I journaled until the dawn. Finished, I felt refreshed. For so long I struggled to prop barriers against the door of doom. To be able to face each day it was imperative the door not be opened.

I feared once it did the grief would barge through and we would be trapped together bound by walls with no means of egress. Yet something was different now. A new strength was building. I could feel the walls of my resolve reinforced. The structure steadied and readied against any impending intruder. I was ready for whatever was to come. The Angels were here.

Our visits with Paula soon came to an end. Tori was being moved to the second floor. She was now deemed to be medically stable. While this should have been perceived as a victory, the initial reaction was one of fear. The notion of a new floor, a new team of caregivers and a room at a considerable distance from the nurse’s station started to knock at the door of my resolve. Breathing deep and calling upon the Angels I was able to put things in perspective. One floor down, one floor closer to the door meant one step closer to home and to the recovery we so desired.

Paula’s visits helped to prepare us for this transition. Our discussions held clues to the Omens lining the path. The healing tree of life, much like my earlier miracle tree which bloomed with progress, was rooted in our faith and in our soul. The Angel of the night guided us further on our journey. Step by step. One baby step at a time.

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The Blossoming Tree

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today I came across some journal entries, originally written while in Franciscan Hospital. The sentiment in this entry holds true even today. The promise of rebirth and renewal; the promise of Spring.

After two weeks of constant bedside vigil in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a reprieve was long overdue. Concerned nurses pointed out to us continually it was okay to take a break. They finally won out and were able to convince us to actually take a walk, to leave the unit and with it, our daughter. I pressed a paper with my cell number into the hand of the nurse manager. She assured me they would call immediately should something happen. Who would have thought there was need for such orchestration just to go and get a cup of coffee?

And walk we did, gingerly stepping away from our little girl’s hospital bed. Looking over my shoulder, I walked slowly as though testing each step. Walking on a pond of ice, listening for the cracks or other telltale signs the bottom is out to fall away. I let out a sigh of relief when it seemed secure and something solid was underfoot. Then without communicating, my pace quickened as did the beat of my heart when turning my back on the doors of the unit. Once passed, they began to close automatically. The telltale click of closure echoed in my ears. I stopped, breathed and summoning up strength, continued on.

The path to the cafeteria took us by a courtyard. The large palladium window in the corridor revealed a stark site. A large barren tree filled the view. This tree would become a focal point for me on these walks which were to become a daily routine.

While in the cafeteria we did receive a call. The doctors had arrived and a decision had been made. Today they would attempt to remove the tube that breathed life into our daughter’s lungs.

Racing back to the PICU, passing the barren tree, my eye caught site of a glimmer of white. A single bud stood out among the blackness. Without hesitation my heart declared, “Tori begins to bloom today.”

Once back to the unit a team began to assemble. Trauma specialists, respiratory technicians, pulmonary doctors, neurologists and a host of nurses coupled with residents and medical students gathered just outside of the room. I watched the Unit’s primary physician move to the middle of those assembled and begin to rundown the situation. The quarterback was calling the play. And like a well practiced team they all began to take their positions on the field. Each prepared to carryout their individual task, to work in unison towards the ultimate touchdown. Some were skeptical such a daring play would succeed. Others knew it could not fail.
Tori had a cheerleader. One persistent, dedicated young and optimistic nurse. Stacey. She was the ultimate pep rally. Just days prior she demonstrated to a less than impressed doctor why she knew Tori could be extabated. Much to his segrin, she climbed onto the hospital bed, strattled Tori and pointing to her throat, indicated the ever so slightly noticeable new movement. Hurray for our side as the doctor consented to try.

And so here we are, the home team getting ready for the big play. We stood on the sidelines barely breathing as we watched the carefully choreographed movements. Truthfully it was difficult to see exactly what was happening. In retrospect that is probably best. The team seemed to huddle even closer together creating a tight circle around the hospital bed. The respiratory technician with his hand on a switch, anxiously awaited his orders. And with the countdown, “1, 2, 3”, it was done. The tube was removed and all that remained was to see if Tori could finish out the play. The first indication of success was the burden that seemed to be lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. They somehow seemed taller. And while it did not mean that we had won or that the game was over, we were on our way.

My thoughts turned immediately to the single bud I witnessed earlier. I became obsessed with visualizing the transformation of that tree being a symbol of my daughter’s progress. And like the tree, she too would bloom. I desperately looked forward to spring. After prayers of thanks and tears of joy we returned to Tori’s bedside. The team faded away watching diligently from the sidelines ready to spring into action should something go astray. Thoughts returned to the tree, my miracle tree.

Light poured through the windows. A new day dawned and spring was in the air. The success of the extubation lightened our hearts. We felt renewed. The tree would tell me more. This time when we took a walk to the cafeteria we walked lighter, more certain of our path. As we rounded a corner I caught a glimpse of the tree. A lump caught in my throat as my initial assessment saw no difference in its appearance. As we neared the windows I could feel the heat of the sun through its glass and my eyes searched for more. And there, tucked around the side of the tree, I saw it. A cluster of buds had burst through. The tree was coming back to life. My spirits soared. But the moment was mine alone. I wasn’t ready to share this observation with anyone just yet. I held tight to my belief that this was an outward sign of renewal, of rebirth. A sign the dead of winter, the darkness of night, will eventually give way to spring and the gift of light.

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Taken Away

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On April 7, 2009 Catherine O’Toole was taken away. Stolen if you will. Taken away from her husband and six children. Taken away was her life in the present and her dreams for the future.

Taken away, a man’s partner, his soul mate, confidant and friend. Dedicated parents living day to day nurturing and preparing their children to embark on quests of their own, they dreamed of a time when they could ride side by side and make new adventures.

Taken away the familiarity and loving touch of a mother and the little things we may all take for granted. No more would a gentle hand pull the covers up to tuck them in bed. No more would there be snacks afterschool or heart to heart conversations of encouragement. This caring woman so in tune to the needs of others was taken away one dark night by a careless, reckless individual who willfully made a choice to drive under the influence.The actions of this individual left a family without their hub, the glue that held them altogether.

On Thursday, July 8th David Hazard will appear before the courts. Unfortunately what has been put before David Hazard is a plea bargain agreement that will sentence him to seven (7) years to serve. In our judicial system time to serve usually equates to two-thirds of the sentence given. How much more does the O’Toole family have to endure? Acceptance of this lenient sentence means also taken away from them is any sense of accountability or justice for the loss, the void that fills them. The O’Toole family is serving a life sentence. A life sentence from which they will never be released as it has taken away their future and their sense of fairness and safety.

In an era when the legislative body is starting to “get it” and have made strides to give law enforcement the tools they need we are seeing a trend towards lighter sentencing. What value life? What message are we sending to deter others from embarking on the same behaviors? The O’Toole family is representative of so many families in Rhode Island and across the country having been initiated into a bizarre and painful world that is a victim family reality.

When is the victim voice heard, when is there a semblance of justice? How long before more is taken away?

Written by Cathy Mobley Andreozzi

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The Anniversary

Saturday, April 3, 2010

March 26th has always been a difficult day for us. This year the emotions that come with the anniversary were eased being surrounded by like souls and caring professionals.

The Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island held their annual conference at the Crown Plaza in Warwick on that day and Lee Woodruff was the keynote speaker. Having had the pleasure of meeting Lee before, I knew those in attendance would benefit from her words.

Lee Woodruff, the spouse of ABC anchor and traumatic brain injury survivor, Bob Woodruff, knew what it was like to experience the wild rollercoaster ride of having life as you know it change in a moment. She spoke with honesty, courage, humor and hope. Suggesting to all, when the enormity of your individual situation becomes, well enormous-break it down into moments and learn to focus on those that re-charge.

It was a reunion of sorts as Tori was able to be present to meet Lee Woodruff and while in attendance, met a few old friends. Most of these friends had left the rehab center where Tori still attended long ago. These brave and beautiful men and women, young and old sought out Tori and beamed as they spoke of their admiration for my daughter. It seems all the while I felt so fortunate for Tori to be part of a group that reached out and included and accepted her, she was dolling out her own brand of therapy to all. Even in her silence Tori has a way of making everyone feel special. When those big brown eyes look at you and the corners of her mouth crinkle into a smile it sends your heart into a tailspin. Each friend shared stories of their experiences with Tori and the part she played in their rehabilitation.

Yes, March 26th is a difficult day. Every year it has been impossible to avoid going back to that place, that space and time where life took an unimaginable turn. And on each anniversary, I have found it important to reach out and to connect with those who shared that space and time with us. Gravitating one year to the firehouse to give them a picture of Tori and to thank them, because their efforts that day gave us what we still have today. Other years seeking out different police personnel to let them know the gratitude we felt for not only doing their job – but for the manner in which they did that job and their continuing unwavering support. There are some places I have not yet found the strength to visit. When leaving the PICU at Hasbro after weeks of living in the hub of the unit, I vowed we would return one day. In my mind it would be under glorious conditions such as one we experienced when a former patient, not expected to survive, walked into the unit on his own power. While that time has not yet come, I look forward with anticipation to share with them the celebration and gift of Tori. And one day, we will visit the Emergency Room staff at Kent Hospital whose early intervention kept Tori alive allowing Hasbro to continue with heroic life saving interventions.

But for this year, we were right where we needed to be. Among friends, among survivors, among dedicated professionals all with a common bond, we survived another anniversary. And this time, re-charged and ready to take on what life has in store moment by moment with honesty, courage, humor and hope.

Written by Cathy Andreozzi

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Friday, March 26, 2010

There is a stillness that comes with the night. It settles over the house slowly advancing until it consumes you. And, with it comes reflection.

Drifting from room to room, in a blanket of silence, pillows are fluffed and lights extinguished. Each stair climbed brings closer the final task of the evening.

Amongst the quiet, at the top of the stairs and through double doors, comes a gentle mechanical hum. Its sound matches the rhythmic rise and fall, the heave and ho, inhales and exhales of the room’s occupant. Together with a pulsing digital glow from a monitor at the foot of the bed, they tell the tale of peaceful slumber.

An innocent sleep, one reminiscent of long ago days; seen when peering over the tops of cribs. In the darkness, illuminated only by a crack of light through the open door, hearts would melt when gazing upon the sight of sleeping babies. The warmth that would travel throughout your body from the swell of pride would leave you weak in the knees.

Now, no different from then, emotions rise. In the present, they are a mix of loss and gratitude. Reflection of what is and what could have or should have been.

For this sleep is so very different from that former space and place in time. It is riddled with uncertainty and underlying despair where once was hope and promise. The past so far in the distant, shadowed in the fog seems as though it was just yesterday. The present, misty with shades of grey allows the sunlight to somehow peek through. And the future forecast, clouded with unknown chances.

And yet, it is the feeling of gratitude that prevails, that sustains. It puts all else into perspective. It is what truly matters. With life there is hope and with it the promise of tomorrow.

Hold dearly your past, take comfort in the now, look forward and plan for the tomorrow and let the reflection of your love shine through all time.

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posted by Cathy Andreozzi

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Day 365

Friday, March 26, 2004

A moment. A snapshot. A space. A place in time. Our lives are filled with them. Some moments are those of glory that you relive over and over. The emotion they create is so powerful it evokes a physical reaction. You feel a warmth shower over you. It’s as if a burning light has been placed deep inside and the heat it generates fills every fiber of your being. And then there are those moments, those snapshots, those spaces and places in time that bring a different emotion. These are the moments that irrevocably change life. These are the moments that leave an indelible mark on your soul. These are the moments you wish never happened. The moments you wish could be erased from time.

Some of these moments are seemingly insignificant in the scheme of things. Yet, no matter how small even these moments can alter relationships and change the course you are traveling. A question, unasked. A phrase uttered in a particular way. A task undone. An impulse let loose. There are things I have done, things I have said, that have produced moments such as these. Moments, that as soon as the words are coming out of your mouth or as soon as you feel your body moving you begin to regret. And yet, as much as any of these moments in the present can affect your future, they do not even approach the enormity of other fateful moments.

And so it is that 365 days ago a careless, reckless, irresponsible individual intersected with my beautiful, perfect and loving 12-year-old daughter. That moment, that space, that place in time is one of those irrevocable, indelible moments. To think that just seconds on either side could have resulted in a different outcome. But somehow, cruelly, fate decided, and that moment was born.

To this very day, I still feel that moment. I ever so clearly remember sitting in the living room talking with Bob anxiously awaiting the children’s return from school. I ever so clearly remember hearing a howling like that of a wounded animal. Immediately, something inside knew. We ran. Ran to the door, screaming Rob’s name. And, before he could answer, my eyes told me. Tori. Where was my baby? I have never and hope to never again see that look in his or anyone else’s eyes. His voice, hoarse, throaty, screamed, “she’s been hit, oh my god, she got hit by a car”. We were out into the yard and into the road before he could even finish. Running, running, not knowing what we would find. And there, there in the distance laying all alone was our little girl. Lifeless.

Not only in her body, but in her face. Oh my god, her face. That beautiful child with the porcelain skin which was now an ashen gray, seemed to have lost half of her face. And those eyes, big brown chocolate laughing eyes, were swollen and empty. Screaming. I just remember so much screaming. Poor Robbie kept screaming, “is she dead, is she dead?” And, Bob, dad, protector of his children, frantically scanned the crowd asking “who did this to my baby?” Somehow, I remembered, as a baby the way Tori would react to getting hurt. If we made a big deal out of it, she did. If we remained calm and seemed in control, she was. And so taking Bobby’s arm I asked him to talk to his little girl and to let her know we where there and that we loved her. And he did. And he held and stroked his little girl. Wanting to cradle her in his arms and yet knowing she was so fragile, motionlessly hanging on. Although to look at Tori it didn’t seem as though she could or should still be with us, she had a pulse. I witnessed her belly heave and loosened the snap and zipper on her jeans. I just remember thinking they were her favorite capris. It was the first day she had worn them.

And then, help was there. We were carefully moved aside to let rescue personnel get next to our child. It seemed an eternity. Yet within minutes they were taking her into the ambulance for transport. No words were spoken. And at that moment our family was separated. Bob and Rob needed to go off with detectives for Rob to answer questions. I watched my men walk away clinging to each other, clinging to hope. As Tori was put into the back of the ambulance, I was gently turned away. I proceeded to the front passenger door. The ambulance was just getting ready to pull away and the driver looked at me sympathetically. He reached a hand towards me to comfort. It seemed to take forever. The chaos of that ride seems so unreal even to this day. It was as though I was watching through another’s eyes. I do remember sitting backwards on my knees, clutching the sides of the seat and praying quietly to the heavens above. And then, I knew. I knew the moment her heart stopped. I saw it in her body and I saw it in his face. Wanting to scream and wanting to clutch my baby close, an inner voice took control. I heard my own voice calmly calling to Tori, assuring her of our love and begging her to stay. The young man tending to my daughter seemed startled and alarmed to realize I was present. I managed to assure there was no need to be concerned about me, just to concentrate on Tori. And, that is just what he did. Where it not for the persistence, the skill and determination of that young man coupled with a guiding heavenly hand, the ride would have ended very differently.

When we were greeted at the first emergency room by social work and chaplain staff they lead us down a corridor to the family room. I could not, would not, enter that room. It irrationally felt to me that if we didn’t enter that room then death could not touch us. We stood in the hall. Stood hanging on to each other until a nurse offered us a moment to be with Tori before we continued on to the trauma center. I can’t begin to explain what those next few moments were like. We walked into a cold, stainless brightly lit room and in the center was our child. She lay motionless, without expression. They had carefully pushed back her hair and wiped her face for mommy, dad and Rob. A gentle whisper told us it was time to go. The next journey seemed even longer, more desperate. At this time we still had no idea as to the extent or severity of her injuries. Details didn’t matter at that point. Only saving our child. When we arrived at Hasbro staff flew into motion and we awaited word. At the first hospital I had Tori’s favorite stuffed animal brought to us. Tori, even at 12, always carried Baby with her whenever we traveled. I carried that animal with me and held him tightly to my chest. Someone appeared with a small jar. Inside were Tori’s rings. I just remember Bobby holding tightly to that jar, so tightly his fingers were red. He clutched those rings to his chest for hours. Sometime much later I remember gently prying the jar from his hands. People. Family. Friends. Dear sweet friends who rushed to our side. In addition, the band of police personnel around us swelled. Tori was stabilized and prepared to go to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Once there, we gathered in the family room. That room was to become the hub of our lives for the next several weeks. Friends spilled into the hallway as word of the accident spread. Unfortunately, as we clung to one another a newscast told the rest of the story. An unbelievable story of an individual, who not only left our child at the side of the road to die but continued on her way to strike another vehicle. Now that individual had a name and a face. And, something, I can never erase from my mind, I saw the vehicle, and the damage, staring at me from the television screen. Somehow our circle of friends, and more importantly, Tori, survived those next few hours. The team surrounding Tori included many physicians from many different disciplines. Neurosurgeons to relieve the pressure inside her head, orthopedics to tend to the many fractures and broken bones causing massive bleeding, plastic surgeons viewing the damage to her face and foot, intensive care doctors, radiologists and general surgeons, all paraded in and out of the family room. It would be days before those same doctors would be able to tell us that Tori was stabilized and would stay with us. Ironically, it would be just after that joyful news that we would be hit with the next blow. An MRI told the story of extensive damage to her brain. Bob and I sat together holding hands listening in disbelief and with a heavy heart to the words the physician spoke. There were certain things they could assure us. There were certain healing processes they could predict. The broken bones, aided by more surgeries, would heal in time. The gruesome slashes to her face and foot would mend. Her brain, however, would not.

I remember thinking in the first few hours she lay in the PICU, how little she looked like Tori. Her features were so distorted, one side of her face terribly bruised and misshapen. It was impossible to look at her without your eyes gravitating to the cruel split below her lower lip. It would be several days before they would attend to that gaping wound. There were so many other priorities. Her bones have healed and her scars are mending. Some things may remain to be seen. One growth plate was fractured and time will tell if it will allow growth at the same rate as the uninjured one. Her foot, also so cruelly ripped open required several surgeries and finally a skin graft to close the wound. In addition, the foot was so severely crushed wires were placed inside to help support and rebuild. Tori overcame many obstacles early on. One can only imagine how much her physical condition, built from years of martial arts training, and her determination aided her in this quest. When Tori began breathing on her own she was extabated without a problem. Slowly, as each tube, each bolt was removed Tori looked more and more herself. And now 365 days later one priority remains. It is still, the unknown factor.

And so each day as others her age go off to 8th grade, the malls and dances, Tori gravitates between a wheelchair and a hospital bed. Instead of running through the halls of Deering Middle School with friends, she is pushed down a corridor in a brain injury center by caregivers and therapists. Jeans and hoodies have been replaced by stretch pants, and jerseys.

Some things have not been replaced. Her tight circle of friends remains the same. In fact, the circle of love engulfing Tori has widened. And though we can never ever come to understand or accept why, there are some lessons to be learned.

Take the time to make those controllable moments in your life, the kind of moments that you will treasure. Make the most of those moments. Say what is in your heart and do what is your hearts desire. Take a moment to hold close those you love dearly and tell them how you feel. Once a moment has passed it is gone forever. Don’t regret what you could have done, could have said. Live in the moment. Hope for the future.

And so, one year later, we still wait. We wait for that moment, that breakthrough, that possibility that time does make a difference. Time does heal. Live in the moment. Hope for the future. That’s what I do.

Written by Cathy Andreozzi

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