Friday, August 30, 2013


Today feels like a celebration!

Today is a celebration!

Five years ago today, I woke up ready to celebrate. Larry's birthday had passed a few days before, our anniversary a few days before that. He finally had a clear night on his calendar and we were going out for a celebratory dinner. I cleaned the house so that he'd come home to a nice place, and was heading back to the shower when the phone rang. I almost didn't answer it...I had planned on having a long, relaxing bath before getting dolled up for a nice dinner out.

But who can ignore a ringing phone? Especially one that has "NYPD" on the caller ID. That's when our world forever changed. "Your daughter was found on the ground by her apartment building." Confusion. "It appears she fell. Off the roof." Whoa. (That's six stories...but who's counting? And she laid on the ground over eight hours before being found...)

The passing of time took on a whole new meaning. I had to wait until the next day to get a flight to New York--no more planes leaving the afternoon I found out. I had to wait three hours on my layover in Baltimore. I had to wait another three hours at the airport on Long Island when there was a problem with the car service that had been ordered for me. I had to wait 45 minutes to actually see Nicole once I got to the hospital because they were busy putting in a central line, and basically doing all they could to help her stay alive.

Over the next few weeks, it wasn't a day-by-day wait-and-see. It was an hour-by-hour. No one could say WHEN she'd get off the ventilator...WHEN she'd sit up, WHEN she'd get to go home. A very arrogant (but very brilliant) neurosurgeon told me "it will happen when it happens." That's when time took on a new meaning. I realized things happen at the right time. In God's time. The plan, His plan, is perfect.

The one year anniversary of Nicole's accident was a milestone, but not a good one for her. She had set high expectations for herself and her recovery, but her body had different ideas. A damaged spinal cord takes an extremely long time to heal. The pathways from the brain to the body had been damaged or even distroyed. There was much more work to do.

Five years later, her body is catching up. Nicole has learned to celebrate her success and at the same time, accept that her body won't ever be the same. But her body is miraculous, and Nicole has learned to used what she's got to its full advantage. As the fifth anniversary of her accident has been approaching, she's been reflective and she seems to fully realize how much she has accomplished in the past five years. Finally, she's at a place where she feels ready to celebrate.

Methodist Rehab has a campaign called "Now I Can." They've wanted Nicole to be featured in the campaign for a few years. She wouldn't do it, because she never felt that she could do what she wanted to do. Yet. A few weeks ago, she contacted the folks at Methodist Rehab with a message. "Now I Can." She did a photo shoot with Talamieka and Charles Brice in the dance studio at USM, the place where she once felt the happiest. The photos are amazing, and one of them will soon appear on a huge poster in a hallway at Methodist Rehab.

We've all learned so much from Nicole and about Nicole in the past five years. I've learned a lot about myself too, and I've learned so many important life lessons.  Some of our best friends are those we met after the accident, and mostly because of the accident.  While I'd turn back the clock in a heartbeat if I could so that this never happened to Nicole, I don't totally regret it. I had intense time with her, caring for her, that I would not have had if the accident had never happened. We've laughed, cried, cursed and yes, we've celebrated.

So today, I feel as full of joy as I do on either of my children's birthdays. I guess it's because in a way, Nicole was given a second chance at life. Just last night I read author Anne Lamott's facebook post about the birthday of her son. "God is so good; all the time, every day. Thank you God for being such a Show-off and giving me Samuel John Stephen Lamott. Wow." For me, it's "Thank you God for being such a Show-off and giving me Nicole Elizabeth Marquez. Wow."

And in keeping with Lamott's latest book "Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers," today is also a day of thanksgiving that Larry is OK following a risky kidney removal surgery earlier this week. I thank God for his thorough doctor, Manisha Sethi, for looking at his blood test results so carefully, and deciding to investigate further when she discovered elevated enzyme levels. The tests she arranged for him to have revealed a mass growing in and on his left kidney. It was fast growing, and as we discovered yesterday, the pathology reports showed it was cancerous. He did great in surgery, and I am hoping he will come home today.

I am thankful that a surprise trip to the emergency room late yesterday afternoon resulted in my dad getting a once-over by Dr. John Brooks, who told my dad that he needed to double up on his diruetics each morning so he could get excess fluid off. His heart was in good shape, lungs were clear, and after having 70cc's of blood drawn off his knee which he had twisted the day before, he felt much better. I'm thankful that Sarah made a last-minute call to fly from Dallas to Jackson on Tuesday instead of going home to Nashville. She thought she was coming to help me with Larry, but God obviously sent her here to take care of Daddy because I was tied up with Larry. Perfecting timing...perfect plan.

In the quietness of my home, as I sit here alone except for Roxie at my side, and I'm able to reflect on and savor the reasons to celebrate today. There may be hiccups along the way, but the reality is that our life is full and we are abundantly blessed.

(Totally shameless plug: Nicole is featured in the September issue of FITNESS magazine...on newstands now! If you know of a group who needs a motivational speaker, that's what she does now...and she does it very, very well! See her website for more information:

Blessings to all who read this!

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