So, what happened?
And then came tragedy mixed with blessings:
The gravel-covered berm on Noe Bixby Road’s infamous S-curve – where many have died in similar accidents – became my fateful “crossroad.” An overnight graduation party in 1985 was interrupted by a friend in need of an early ride home. (I was always the friend to count on.) My decision not to ignore her desperation changed the future of my entire family, and kept me from serving my country.
Amy can now be seen annually as the wheelchair-bound co-host on the local coverage of the Labor Day Telethon.
Almost 17 years later… an unexpected email message from Amy:
Subject: My dear friend
Date: Saturday, July 20, 2002 10:13 PM
I just checked your web site out! You blow me away. Brad gave me your web address today. I just recently got back in touch with his family.
I need first to tell you how much I have ached over the years knowing that you were only driving at that point for me. I know that there was no way to know what was to come, but I knew you did not want to leave, you were just being kind to me. And how did I repay that kindness, I ran away. I saw you, held your hand and cried the next day, I have never forgotten the exact moment I saw you laying on that turning board, I felt so ashamed and guilty It changed something in me forever and I stayed away until a few years ago.
Although you have never left my heart or my thoughts, I just thought you and your family had to be so angry with my selfish behavior, that none of you wanted me around. Saying I am sorry does not begin to cover it. I am sorry for so many things Kevin, mostly for not being there all these years, for being to ashamed of myself and fearful of your rejection and letting that keep me away from your beautiful soul. I pray that you can forgive me for being a selfish little girl all those years ago. I am so ashamed that I didn’t know better.
I am back in Ohio mainly because I don’t have much of a choice right now. Life is one unpredictable journey! Turns out I have a progressive degenerative neurological disorder named Friedrich’s Ataxia (FA). Seems that I was born with a defect in my genetic makeup that wasn’t even discovered until 1996.(15,000 cases in the US) I started showing symptoms in my early 20’s but wrote them off as being clumsy or lazy. Turns out all this stubbornness has helped me hold off the inevitable!
I always knew my life would be different from the norm but I never could have guessed anything like this. It sure does explain a lot in retrospect. I have maintained my strength much longer than some but there is no way to stop it. It causes the loss of all motor skills, walking, talking. swallowing, etc.. It’s a slow loss of everything.
So here I am with my Mom in Pickerington. I built an addition onto her house for handicapped access and safety from my many falls. I am in a wheelchair most of the time but I still push through the pain and use my crutches now and then. I to have a wonderful support system with God being at the top of that list.
I am so proud of all that you have accomplished Kevin, you are truly an inspiration to me. I don’t know that I will ever be able to express to you what a positive impact that knowing you pre 1985 and following your successes since then have made on me. I am a better person for knowing you, I am able to smile through my darkness because I know that I am not alone in my struggles. we all have them.
I can say, that this disorder has made me a better human. The smallest task is so hard to achieve yet I try and am so proud of the inner strength and faith that I have shown. This life no matter how hard is so precious.
I so hope you can forgive me for not being in touch, I know how lonely I have felt going through my thing, I hope you never felt that. And if you did I am so so sorry.
Kevin, I hope to renew our friendship, I am filled with so many emotions right now. I mostly want you to just feel the love I am sending with this mail. You are as amazing as you always have been. Please know that I have relived that tragic night in your life so many times and I take responsibility for my ignorance and selfishness. I am just so damn sorry that you had to be the one who’s life was altered. I don’t know what else to say, I should not have waited this long to let you know that you have never been far from my heart.
Love an old friend,
Subject: Re: My dear friend
Date: Saturday, July 20, 2002 11:10 PM
I wanted to reply as soon as possible, so please forgive my late night English skills. I just couldn’t bear letting you live another second thinking there was something to feel guilty about. It’s been so long since I’ve thought about living a life other than I do now.
There is nothing but an old friend on this end of the line. If only you could have contacted me sooner. I’ll write more later. I’m in the middle of a project and I’ll fill you in when I can. Let me just say that God’s timing is perfect and He must have guided you tonight. Again, I couldn’t possibly let you wait for a reply. There’s much to say…