Friday, September 23, 2011

A Personal Essay by Matt (2002)

This is a memoir written by Matt after achieving a great goal following his recovery.

"I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature." -John D. Rockefeller

"Shot-gun!" I called out, and grinned at Berk. "Matt!" Berk shouted and stomped his foot hard on the pavement, while Scott chuckled. That's the last memory I have from June 2nd up until sometime around the 6th of July. Sometimes I think I can remember the car accident or being in the hospital, but I'm never really sure. Are those vivid pictures in my mind real, or only imagined after being told of what had happened to me?

While in the hospital my friends, family, and even strangers prayed for me. They knew that I could get through the coma and my injuries. I sustained a left parietal lobe hemorrhage, and a left orbital fracture to my skull. One of my doctors told my mom and dad that he didn't think I would survive. Well, I did more than survive. Through hard work and determination I climbed my way out of the three-week coma. I was released from the hospital July 5th, but I still had to learn to walk, talk, and eat again, so I was transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Center. The doctors predicted I would need at least five to eight weeks of inpatient rehabilitation. I was discharged after three weeks, once again overcoming all odds.

After returning full time to Rockford High School, my next goal that nearly everyone thought was impossible was to earn my varsity letter again in swimming. The season started in November, and ended at the beginning of March. My times wouldn't budge throughout the season, no matter how hard I tried. I was beginning to lose the confidence I needed to get my letter. I knew that everyone would understand if I couldn't reach my varsity letter time; everyone except me.

It was the beginning of March, and I was facing the last opportunity of the swim season to earn my letter. I found myself standing on a starting block, overlooking twenty-five yards of water. The adrenaline surged through my body as Coach yelled, "Go!" I leapt off of the block with every ounce of energy stored in my anxious legs and swam harder than I thought possible. I went through the first turn, then the second and third. Nearing my last turn I took a breath before the flags and saw Coach Seifert telling me to push as hard as possible. I came out of the turn and saw my teammates cheering me on, as well as my friends who watched from the stands. It came down to the last second, and I hit the wall. Taking a deep breath, I looked up and heard everyone clapping with energy and joy. I did it. Only nine months after lying in a coma, I earned my varsity letter. There are no words to describe how I felt that day. That was the day that I knew I could do everything I had before the accident, and more.

Now I stand on the starting block that overlooks the next great challenge of my life - college. I will approach my studies and education with the same determination and sense of purpose that I did during my recovery from my injuries.

Once, I took life for granted. On June third in the year two thousand, that changed forever. I know now that life is a gift. I also know that with faith, hard work, and perseverance I can accomplish anything.

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