Today marks one year since the accident that changed my life. It happened on February 26, 2016, a Friday then. I remember sitting on the side of the road, burned and broken. I had no idea at that time of what lied ahead.
I could spend this blog post rehashing what happened. Telling you about the days spent in the hospital and the weeks spent at home. That’s not what I want to remember, though. Instead, I want to take a little time saying ‘thank you:’
To my neighbors, thank you. You quite literally saved our lives. You deserve all of the awards in the world and this moment will forever be one of my most cherished memories.
To the first responders, thank you. You comforted me, convinced me that the two IVs you had to put in my hands weren’t that big of a deal and joked that my burned head “wasn’t the worst you’d ever seen.” I’m still not over you having to cut off my favorite jeans, because I’m telling you… I could have gotten the blood stains out! I swear! (But you are probably right. They were probably ruined.)
To my doctors and nurses at UNMC, thank you. You quite literally healed me physically and mentally. I will never forget the nurses that showed me how to live life with burns, cracked jokes about ‘Frozen’ at 4 a.m. to make me smile and snuck their personal shampoos and conditioners into the shower so I didn’t have to use the stuff that didn’t smell all that good.
To Dr. Reilly and the entire burn unit staff, thank you. You are practically family now and I’m happy to have you all as my healers. I don’t like the circumstances in which I got to know you all, but knowing you has been life changing. You love me (even if it’s tough love) and for that I am thankful.
To my mom, thank you. You rushed into that emergency room with a sense of purpose and never stopped doing anything you could to make it better. I’m not sure how I’d feel as a parent walking in on what you did, but you handled it (and have continued to handle it) better than anyone could have expected.
To Kyle, thank you. You never let me believe I was anything but beautiful, even when my head was wrapped up like a mummy. I will never forgive you for trying to change the channel from Gilmore Girls, but you were amazing otherwise.
To my family, thank you. For showing up. For bringing BB-8 (shout out to you, Dad). For supporting me.
To Kyle’s family, thank you. For breaking into the house because we never thought to give anyone a spare key. I (and Jacks) cannot thank you enough.
To my friends, thank you. Some of you drove hours to be there. Some of you drove five minutes. All of you were incredible, no matter the distance. I will never forget the night we watched the Oscars in my hospital room, as if nothing had ever happened. I will also never forget you all showing up, day after day, once I was home with food, hugs and smiles. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have you all.
To my Internet family, thank you. Yes, I have an Internet family. That includes my Twitter followers (and a special shout out to the former @kchuskerz especially) and my Tumblr family. You went above and beyond by reaching out, donating to my GoFundMe, sending me sunscreen (and hats!) and more. I received so much support that I’m still not sure how to properly thank you all. I truly wish I could meet you all personally and give you a hug (or 10).
To my Nebraska family, thank you. The hat and signed football that arrived from the football staff on the first day of spring practice was so kind. The box of gear (with hoods!) and a toy for Jacks from the basketball staff was too. You reminded me once and for all that there is no place like Nebraska.
To Boys Town and Hail Varsity (and especially Aaron, Jen and John), thank you. You understood when I desperately wanted to get back to work but also reminded me to take the time to heal. You showed me again why I’m so lucky to be a part of what you both do.
To Lisa, thank you. I will never know what you thought when you got my message that I had “lost some of my hair,” but you never faltered. You put me back together.
To Omaha Ballroom (Elizabeth and Angel), thank you. You got me back on my feet when I needed it most. Dancing with the Omaha Stars will forever hold a special place in my heart.
To Delta Gamma, thank you. When I pledged DG ten years ago, I never knew what you meant by ‘for life.’ I get it now. ITB.
To Jacks, thank you. You’re a very good dog.
To you all, thank you. You sent notes. You had your classrooms create cards. You brought us groceries and casseroles and pizza. You reached out to a person that some of you didn’t even know. You lifted me up when I was at my lowest and never let me get too far down. I am where I am today because of you.
And to anyone I forgot, thank you. I hate leaving anyone out, but please know anyone forgotten was not intentional.
I’m incredibly lucky. I know there are many who haven’t received the same support that I have and I try to remind myself daily of my privilege in all of this. I didn’t (and still don’t!) deserve all you did for me, but I hope in time I can pay that forward in your honor.
One year later. How far we’ve come. All because of you.