“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll, evangelist, motivational speaker
When it comes to seeing the glass half full, Sherri is a pro.
At first glance, this lovely woman appears like any ordinary 55-year-old. Hard working. Good with words and numbers. A legal secretary in a large law firm for many years, now working in retail and customer relations.
“Have I told you my story,” she asked one day in passing.
“No,” I said eagerly, sensing I was about to hear something remarkable.
It was June 15, 1997. Sherri and her husband, Tom, who had been married for about six years, were planning to visit Tom’s dad. After all, it was Father’s Day. The couple never made it. Sherri suddenly was stricken with a ruptured brain aneurysm.
Tom found her lying on the floor, and with a faint voice she said, “Something popped in my head.”
After Tom’s urgent call to 911, paramedics struggled keeping his wife alive on the way to ER, where a neurosurgeon told her family he would need to operate immediately.
During the six-hour surgery, she died three times.
“Did you see Heaven?” I asked.
“No. Should I have?” Pausing, she added, “It wasn’t my time. God still needed me here.”
After surgery, Tom asked the doctor if his wife had a 50-50 chance.
“No,” was the doctor’s dismal reply. “A patient with her brain injury has a 95-percent mortality rate.”
“If she survives, will she be Sherri again?” Tom questioned in a hopeful plea for return to normalcy.
“Not likely,” responded the surgeon. He didn’t expect her to make it through the night.
The next 18 days Sherri remained in a coma, and on the 19th day, she finally woke up.
The medical staff rushed their miracle patient to rehab, where the hard work began.
From the very first session, the physical therapist established a new ground rule: The phrase “I can’t” would no longer exist in Sherri’s vocabulary. Instead, “I can” and “I will” would be in her new lexicon, while relearning how to walk.
“I did what he said,” Sherri beamed. “The day I left rehab, he had me walking. He even had me jogging.”
With some paralysis but no loss of short- or long-term memory, her remarkable recovery could not be explained.
“I know it’s because I am meant to be here.”
The doctor admitted God was guiding his hands that June day 21 years ago.
Part of her prognosis included not being able to bear children. As often is the case, God had other plans.
Precisely two years to the day of Sherri’s stroke, she gave birth to a son, T.J. “God turned a very sad day into a very happy one,” Sherri articulated, each word booming with joyful praise.
Tom temporally left his job to help with the new baby.
Her story gets even better…
When T.J. was four, Sherri was reunited with her daughter, Felicia, whom she had placed up for adoption at birth. The two were brought together at Felicia’s high school graduation. Today, Sherri is grandmother to Felicia’s daughter and son. Her granddaughter was born on Sherri’s birthday.
After Tom returned to work, he found a severely injured puppy left for dead under a bridge.
Not moving the pup for fear of further injury, Tom nurtured the wounded fledgling back to life with food, water and encouragement. Even naming her Baby.
Wouldn’t you know, here’s where the story gets better. Baby, now bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, showed up at Tom’s work. And, it was then he called Sherri to say he was bringing home a surprise.
Not only did Tom save Baby, but Baby saved Tom from a deep depression. Nearly a decade later, Baby is the family’s faithful friend and Sherri’s service dog.
When hearing such stories of survival, I had so many questions.
How did she keep going?
“I pray to God about everything. He tells me it will be okay. I can’t go wrong with that.”
What motivated her?
“Tom gave me incentive.” she said without hesitation. “I could not let him down.”
Sherri and Tom will be married 28 years in November.
“I know I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me,” she added emphatically, quoting Philippians 4:13 “Isn’t that the truth!” she concluded.
Yes, Sherri, it most certainly is true.
(For more, visit Sherri’s non-profit website: strokesupportoftexas.org.)
Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – garnering First Place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 writing competition. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.