I am a "Native Floridian!"  I am slightly obsessed with the Florida sun!  The hotter the better!  I have always loved being outdoors and very active.  In my preteen years I played on a softball team, enjoyed skate boarding, skating, biking, fishing, mini golf, bowling, and playing football with my neighborhood friends.  

My teen years weren't extremely different.  I still enjoyed all the above-mentioned sports and more!  Like playing volleyball at a nearby local beach and checking out all the guys!  I did fairly well in school, but never really tried to excel in any subjects.  At this point my goal in life was to get out of school as soon as possible and get a job.  Yes, I did get a high school diploma (early).  Then my first real job.  

My late teen years and early 20s were spent working many different jobs. They ranged from secretarial duties, to hardware store clerk, meter reading, landscape and pool maintenance, water line installation, operating equipment such as a forklift, front-end loader, backhoe, chipper, table saw, chain saw, dump truck, etc. The more physical the job, the better I liked it.  I was constantly on the move, until…  


It was a warm July afternoon as I listened to music on my walkman radio.  As I bent over to pull some weeds from a flowerbed I was in charge of maintaining, I was startled to feel someone tap me on the shoulder.  I turned around to see my boyfriend, whom also frequently worked at the same retirement community that I did managing his own business, standing there.  Being the boss allowed him the freedom to find me or have lunch with me any time. 

As I stepped out of the flowerbed and took off my walkman (so I could hear) he said, "your 25th birthday is coming up and I'd like to take you out of town to celebrate it this weekend.  How does that sound?"  I said, "it sounds great, but I have to work the next two weekends so why don't we wait until I'm off for the weekend so we can stay out as late as we want to and I don't have to worry about going to work the next day."  He agreed that would be good, gave me a kiss and we both went back to doing our jobs.

As I continued weeding, planting flowers, and mulching flowerbeds, the July sun became warmer and warmer.  Loving the outdoors and the sun since I was very young, the hot sun actually energized me as I thought about how much fun I was going to have celebrating my birthday. 

I thought about what we would do, where we would go, and of course, what I would wear!  I would have to wear something different than what I had worn in the past on dates.  Something special.  I grew more excited just thinking about all the details!

As the next few weeks moved along we saw each other at work, had a few lunches together, went to see a movie one evening, and went bowling one evening.  I had always enjoyed bowling but wasn't an extremely good bowler.  I enjoyed the competition, but was really there just for the fun of it.  That night I actually bowled my highest score ever, a 112.  I felt good and was overjoyed with my new personal best score!

During those few weeks I would often think, how could my life be any better?  I have a job I enjoy, a fairly healthy family, friends I enjoy, a boyfriend I adored, and my own health.  What more did I need or want except maybe a few nice material things sometime in the future.  Material things had never really been that important to me so I basically felt satisfied with my life.  I had it all, I was invincible, I just wanted to have fun and enjoy everything I could!

As my weekend off approached I decided what I would wear.  A favorite pair of jeans, a new tank top, a nice black blazer type jacket I borrowed from a good friend's daughter incase I got too cool that evening in just a tank top, a comfortable pair of black shoes with flat heels so I could move around easier on the dance floor.  I didn't know our exact plans yet, but we were definitely going dancing no matter what!

Friday was finally here!  I got off work at 3:30, went by my friend's house and picked up the jacket her daughter was loaning me.  I headed home to take a shower and get ready to finally celebrate my birthday.  Around 6 p.m. my boyfriend arrived to pick me up.  He had a single red rose that he graciously gave me, told me I looked nice, and asked if I was ready to go.  I said he looked nice also, and yes, I was ready to go.  I then asked where we were going.  "It's a surprise, it's somewhere I've been before and want to take you to dinner there," he said.  I asked could I take his picture before we left for the evening.  He agreed, I snapped the picture, but he didn't offer to take my picture.  I thought briefly to myself that it was kind of strange that he didn't offer to take mine, but quickly dismissed the thought.

We were happily driving towards our destination and listening to the radio when my boyfriend suggested that we stop at a convenience store and buy a six-pack of beer to drink on the way.  I was completely in agreement.  We stopped and got the beer, immediately opening them and continuing on.  We would talk and drink until we arrived at the restaurant.  It was a seafood restaurant (seafood is one of my favorite foods.)  There was a long line of people waiting to enjoy the delicious seafood so we were told we could wait at the bar until a table was available.  We gladly did so, consuming a couple of mixed alcoholic beverages while we waited.

Our dinner was finally served and we ordered another drink along with it.  When we finished my boyfriend said he knew a nearby club that played great music and we could dance there.  I always loved dancing!  My boyfriend was a good dancer and had recently been taking line-dancing classes.  We arrived at the club and quickly ordered a drink.  The band was excellent as we partied and danced for hours.  In between having numerous mixed drinks.  At one point late into our partying, I got a strange feeling and made a comment to my boyfriend that maybe we should slow down or stop our drinking because we had a fairly long drive home ahead of us.  He shrugged it off and said not to worry that he would be fine driving home.  Having had drank and drove many times myself before this night, I shrugged it off also and continued to drink and party.

The club was about to close so we decided to leave and begin our trip home.  My boyfriend got in the driver's seat and I got in the passenger seat and reclined it so I could relax and sleep on the way back.

The next thing I remember was waking up, looking at a broken windshield, wondering where my boyfriend was and why I couldn't move.  I then heard people talking (which I later learned were paramedics.)  My next recollection was waking up in a hospital bed, unable to move; wondering where was my boyfriend and why was my family there?

I was told that I had been in an accident and was completely paralyzed from the neck down.  I was then told that my boyfriend had been ejected from the vehicle and did not survive the accident.  I felt like someone had just stuck a knife in my heart!  All I could do was cry and try to make sense of everything I was hearing.

How could all this be happening?  Just hours before I had been celebrating my "25th" birthday with my boyfriend, feeling invincible, and in an instant my whole life was changed forever!


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