This will be the last post about Tate’s accident, and in the seventy-five days since it happened I’ve heard a lot of words get tossed around: I hear the word miracle a lot. I hear luck just as much. Some people bring God into it, some don’t. Regardless of affiliation, disbelief seems to be a common theme in all of this. Tate was hit by a drunk driver in a speeding pickup while she was trying to care for a wounded dog on the road and today she just walked out of the hospital on her own two feet, a survivor.
Tate is home.
The girl was supposed to be dead. People don’t just get hit like that and pull through. Seventy-five days ago my family should have been planning a funeral. And here’s Tate now: she makes jokes, she talks about her cat too much, she asks for her makeup kit, she’s already having meetings with her staff at work.
I suppose disbelief sometimes opens the door for gratitude. This could have all shaken out so differently. It’s one of those times where even my most genuine “thank you” falls short of what I’m actually trying to convey:
I think about all the people who cleared the way for Tate to show her strength. Her sister who had to do the terrible work of identifying Tate’s mangled body hours after the incident because nobody knew who she was at first. Her brother and his wife who drove from Spearfish just to try to provide some sense of stability for a family wrapping their heads around the news. Her dad having to suffer the tragically familiar phone call that his daughter was struck by a drunk driver two decades after his own brother was killed by one. Her mom who slept on a hospital pullout couch every single night Tate was there.
Then there’s the medical staff who did the right thing at the right time. The 36+ hours she spent in surgery with people who knew they could save her and did. The letters from her students that covered the walls of her hospital room. The visitors. The well-wishers. The prayer chains. The people who contributed in so many ways. All of you who’ve followed her progress from the grisly beginning to this new beginning.
But the thing that’s rallied us is the person at the center of it all. From the moments she was fighting for her life to the bouts of inescapable pain to the depressing experience of watching other patients arrive, heal, and leave before she even knew if her body would fully recover to the time she stood up and hobbled with a walker one stubborn step at a time, Tate has endured. No matter our role, no matter luck or miracle or chance, in the end we are all witnesses to her strength.
And now she’s home. I don’t know what it must have been like for her to pull up to the house and for the first time see the stretch of road her blood was smeared across seventy-five days ago. I can’t speak for her, but I can’t imagine a scenario where that’s easy to process. It’s a reminder that for as far as she’s come, she still has a long way to go. Therapy will continue to be strenuous, the obstacles still real and demanding. Even so, I’d like to think that after overcoming so many odds and enduring such hardship that she has learned to see things differently than the rest of us, for this is a woman who’s seen the other side and come back––one whose strength is continually revealed and whose eyes are trained on the future.