After I posted my last blog, I received 2 forms of feedback that stood out. One was from my teacher who I wrote about who brought that beautiful rendering of the Blessed Mother back from Israel. Incredibly, and in the name of my theme, Connectivity, she wrote the following to my mom:
Your timing is miraculous!!!
I received your email as I was on the bus with a group of Westtown students driving to Nazareth in Israel to the Basilica of the Annunciation, where Julia and I first saw the mosaic of the Blessed Mary in 2016.
On the bus, I shared the story of Julia and me first looking at Blessed Mother together and about Julia’s accident and her miraculous and challenging recovery, and of the picture we had given her of the Blessed Mary just a few months ago.
When we got to the Basilica, the students agreed that the mosaic portrays Blessed Mary with such strength, power, and grace. We each thought of Julia and I lit a candle in her name at the Basilica.
Thus your timing was miraculous. It brought Julia’s story to another whole group of Westtown students who are traveling in Julia’s footsteps these two weeks in Israel, and who now know her story and will keep Julia in their hearts and in the Light of healing.
Please express our love to Julia and thank you for sending your email exactly when you did.
The 2nd was from the driver who hit me, Malchijah:
Hello Julia, Dyan, Bo & Pat,
I apologize for not responding sooner. It’s kind of ironic that I overlooked this email which I have been eagerly anticipating for weeks now. I’ve been so anxious to know how Julia and her family took to heart my sincere words and account of the moments both leading up to and following this DIVINE MOMENT OF OUR LIVES.
I felt a loving, righteous energy coming from Dyan the nanosecond I met her at my preliminary hearing last winter. This same beacon of energy was also overt when Dyan took the stand advocating for restorative justice on my behalf. Like the saying goes “Fruit doesn’t fall from the tree”. These same attributes of LOVE were so discernible in Julia.
Julia, I will forever be hanging onto every last one of your words from this blog entry. TBH it was like reading a novel I didn’t want to end. You are a breath of fresh air. Everyone connected to you including myself are blessed by your graciousness. We should all be able learn from the sacrifices you’ve made.
I’m just so moved by you and your family’s perseverance. Instead of digging two graves you’ve created two Halos. I still cannot put into words how thankful I am for you and I to be with our loved ones. I will always pray for you because we are incredibly connected.
I would love for you to get to know me as well as my wife personally. It would be awesome if a group of us could go out for coffee or brunch someday. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t take much for many of us to become jaded. For me, Julia stands as a constant reminder of the narrow path we all travel aka: THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.
A sincere, warm, heart felt THANK YOU Julia, to you and your family!
In keeping with my commitment to promote a form of justice that is more restorative to the person (me) and community (you) harmed, and more meaningful for the perpetrator and thus more correctional, I applied for a Summer Scholars program through SJU to further my study. Below is the response to that application, from my Faculty Advisor, Julie McDonald:
In case you missed it, Julia had a letter to the editor published in Friday’s Philadelphia Inquirer! I’ve attached a copy of her letter, as well as the article to which she was responding. I understand that Julia’s already had a number of responses, since the PI required her to attach an email address to her letter. (In this case, she used her gmail address – I’ve added it to the CC line above should you wish to contact her at that address.) And since Julia’s letter cited the blog, “MeaningThroughTrauma,” which she and her mother Dyan Furey have been writing, the blog has also received many new hits.
Also, please join me in congratulating Julia for being awarded a 2019 Summer Scholar Project grant! Her research this summer will examine the theory and practice of restorative justice. If you’ve followed the blog, you’ll know that Julia has decided to enter into a process of restorative justice with the driver who was arrested after striking her on City Avenue. During her summer research, Julia plans to continue this process, as well as study classic and contemporary texts on RJ. Betsy Linehan, Jenny Spinner, and I will serve as her SJU SSP mentors, as will her mother Dyan Furey, M.S.W., who first raised the topic of RJ given her past research.
All best wishes to Julia, as she continues to heal, and plans a return to her studies.
My Summer Scholarship kicks off on May 20th and I am eager to dive in.
Thank you for continuing to take the time to read these posts and follow my progress. It really means the world to me.
NOTE FROM MOM:
After taking 2 courses at her boarding school, Julia bumped up last semester to actually taking an on-line course through SJU, the grade for which would go against her cum: Philosophy of Human Nature. Plato, Aristotle, DesCartes… An extremely dense an ambitious endeavor. It entailed hours a day – reading and re-reading, notes and more notes.
When it came to her exam, I took pains not to assist in any way. When she was ready to submit I steeled myself away from even proof-reading. I emplored the prof to be objective as possible! This is an experiment. Our goal is to get a baseline of where she is academically so we can track progress going forward. A realistic yardstick is the only thing that’s useful. If she doesn’t pass, fine. It was only a year ago that we were told Julia would never return to college.
Julia received a C+. It may as well have been the golden ticket in Charlie’s chocolate bar to me. There were time-limit assists. She was given a longer window to submit projects. But she did the whole thing herself. Her dad calls her a Worker Bee and that came through in spades.
The next goal is her Independent Project on Restorative Justice this summer. Julia wakes up daily at 5:30 AM. When I beseech her to go back to sleep she says she’s too excited about the work on RJ we are doing this summer.
Lastly, Julia is still in the boot that supports the intricate tendon-replacement that she underwent 5 months ago. She is not stable enough to go without it. Her PT has started introducing a sneaker on that left foot during her PT sessions. They walk gingerly as the foot is delicate. Pat and I have taken to walk her a little bit at night also without the boot and just the shoe. She still has a long way to go. She says, I don’t care if I walk with a limp forever, long as I can go back to school. But don’t you miss climbing trees? I ask. Yes, that’s true, okay, good goal.
Yesterday, at a 5K for Brain Injury, Bo came in 2nd in his age group, and Julia walked 1 whole mile in her boot. Her dad deserves all credit for pushing her to do this. She slept the whole way down the shore to see my mom, and 2 hours after that. She was shot. But she did it.
That left foot that is still booted, has not seen the light of day unless to wash it. She sits on her shower chair in the tub, we wash the foot and leg gingerly, dry it, and put her boot cast back on before she gets out. Her bare foot has never touched the ground.
A goal her dad and I had for spring break a few weeks ago, was that she might take her boot off in the pool. And with the buoyancy of the water, try to step on it. Everyday I checked in; every day she wasn’t ready. It was only on the 7th day that her dad got her to simply dangle her feet over the edge into the water. That was enough for her.
Even though her dad is the one who pushes her, I’m the safe place to land, I did tell her last week the only thing I wanted for Mothers Day was to go to the Y and have her go into the hot tub with me, bare foot.
Today, as God as my witness, after saying a motivating prayer in the ladies locker room, Julia did the following:
She took off her boot on the bench. She stood up on 2 bare feet, held my hand and slowly walked 30 ft across and around a slippery pool deck and down 6 steps into the hot tub, across the hot tub and took a seat on the bench. 2 minutes later she says, I think I’d like to dunk my head. 5 minutes later, Julia decides she’d like to remove her glasses. With that, she walks, BY HERSELF, across the hot tub, places her glasses on the towel and walks back. (I’m trying to act like all this is normal.) She was even able to rise up on her hands and pull her legs up straight enough for the tips of her toes to crest above the water. We had a contest who could hold it longer.
After 20 minutes, Julia walked AHEAD of me, across the hot tub, around people, up the 6 stairs, BY HERSELF, and then across and around to the bench with my hand. But confidently. It was like 1 of those Baptist TV Evangelical shows where people get out of their wheelchairs. She was fearless.
I felt like I was watching Helen Keller hand-spell W-A-T-E-R into her teacher’s hand under the spigot.
As she dried her foot and replaced her boot I said, What made this so different than 2 wks ago on Spring Break? She didn’t know. “That I trust you?” “You trust your dad too.” “That’s true.”
We showered, changed and went to the car, me like a psychopath on Crack. All I could think of was telling Pat and her brother.
As we sat in the car, she said, “I think I know why… It’s because you bring out the courage in me.”
“Because you teach me that I have a choice.” (re: Victor Frankl: “The last of human freedoms is our ability to choose our attitude in any situation.”) “So I say to myself, ‘This could be a good experience… If I want it to be.’ And since I know I have the choice, I just make it one.”
So, it’s not about your dad or me. It’s about you.
To all of you, males and females, who have “mothered” Julia this past year and a half, I hope you take this as a small dividend on your investment. Thank you for being vital cogs in the wheel of our ongoing journey towards connectivity and healing.