At the center of our humanity is a need for connection, and I am a firm believer that God gives us the people we need in our lives, at just the right time.
20 years ago, God put Bekah in my life. 15 years ago, He made us best friends.
Exactly 6 years ago today, He nearly took her away. She had been standing less than 3 feet away from the first bomb that went off, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Bombing.
10 months ago, the day I was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis II, she was the first person I wanted to call. She was the only person who would understand. But I couldn’t.
I knew that if I called her, I would just cry, and I wouldn’t be able to get words out. So, I texted her…
“I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance last night after an episode at home… Apparently a headache I’ve been experiencing for the last couple of days is serious. A CT scan showed multiple brain tumors, one of which is causing seizures on my left side. I was admitted and am having a MRI done this morning and then developing a plan with a neurosurgeon. We definitely need to remove the tumor; it sounds like I will go into surgery sometime tomorrow. I’m so sorry.”
I apologized at the end, because I knew exactly how she would feel after reading it: the same way I felt upon learning that she’d been blown up by a bomb.
Her next message was plain and simple, “I’m getting on a plane today. I love you.”
Upon learning of my condition, there were several people who jumped on flights, and in their cars to get to Colorado, but Bekah was the first one to arrive. She even beat my dad and stepmom by a couple of hours!
As soon as she walked into the hospital room, she jumped right into bed with me, and both of our eyes filled up with tears.
Neither of us needed to say anything; she knew exactly how I felt, and I knew exactly how she felt. I’d grown accustomed to seeing her in a hospital bed, and she’d gotten used to me visiting… neither of us expected to have the roles reversed.
That night, after all of our visitors left, and the hospital became quiet, Bekah sent my husband home. He knew I was in good hands, and I knew he needed a good night of sleep.
Like any reunited friends do after time away from one another, Bekah and I stayed up talking, laughing, and crying until the crack of dawn. Eventually, she took her prosthetic leg off.
When a nurse came in to take my stats, Bekah joked, “let me move my leg for you.” My nurse smiled comfortably, as only nurses know how to do, and casually asked what happened.
It was a story I had heard so many times before, but that night, something was different as I listened to Bekah talk about how she had been less than 3 feet from the first bomb that went off, separated from her 5 year old child, rushed to the hospital, and finally had her leg amputated due to the severity of her injuries.
As she spoke, I mentally filled in the blanks, remembering how mangled her body had been, how her hair had been singed away by the blast, how she’d endured 67 surgeries, how much shrapnel was still embedded in her muscles, and how many nights she’d called crying. How she’d almost died.
But, in true Bekah fashion, she never got lost in the horrific details of that experience. She always stayed positive; stating the facts and how she’s grown as a person because of it.
She said, “Being a victim is a not a choice, but being a survivor is.”
Although that night was like so many others we’d spent together, it will always stand out in my memory. It was the night I decided to be a survivor too.
When the time came for me to go home to my family, and Bek to get home to hers, she left me with a necklace that said “Be Brave.”
Around her own neck she wore “Be Strong.” It had been given to her as a gift after the bombing. It had come with a match, ‘Be Brave,’ and a note that said one day, she would know who to give it to.
She’d held onto ‘Be Brave’ for 6 years before placing it around my neck.
I wore it every day until surgery. It was exactly what I needed to overcome my own challenges. Every day I would look at it and be inspired to find the beauty amid tragedy, just as she had.
After my first craniotomy, the first words I said were, “God is not done with me yet.”
If you’ve been following my story, you already know this. What you may not know is that it was a subconscious line that I had heard before… they were the same words Bekah said upon waking from her medically induced coma after the bombing.
In a state of semi-consciousness, we both said the exact same phrase during the toughest moments in both of our lives.
Perhaps it is all of those years of friendship that have entwined our strength together, or maybe, just maybe, those words are true;
God is not done with us yet.
This is our story, and it is not over yet.