2 Year Anniversary

I last spoke about some things that I would be pursuing this winter.  I have since accomplished a few of them and would like to tell you about how they went for me.
On October 4th, I attended a banquet dinner in honor of the work I did through my Summer Scholars project on Restorative Justice.  This took place at Saint Joe’s with the other summer scholars.  I learned a lot about justice personally through the research and interviews I conducted.  Restoative Justice is about the perpetrator taking responsibility for his/her actions and how restorative that can be.  It’s also about there rarely being one victim of crime.  Usually crimes impact whole communities, both victim’s and offender’s.  And the healing power that can occur if those communities come together and speak from the heart.
As such, on Nov 24th, we had the VOC (Victim/Offender Conference).  This was also held at Saint Joe’s.  We had two facilitators, and 24 participants from both my, and the driver’s communities.  I was so grateful to have the opportunity to hear so honestly from family and friends about their experiences of the accident.  It seemed that people were being more honest that day than ever as we were gathered with the shared aim of authentic healing.  Speaking directly from the heart seemed very important to everyone which meant the wold to me.  Especially my brother who is usually very conservative in those settings.  My dad, who was ambivalent about coming at all, ended up saying that he felt lucky to be apart of it.  My cousin Jeannie, who is always authentic, was honest enough to say that, at the end, she still felt conflicted, which I admire her for.  The driver’s mother-in-law told my mom she’s been married to a pastor or 35 years and this is the closest that she’s ever felt to God.  My cousin Alyssa threw down a challenge to Malchijah (driver) to, like Private Ryan, “earn this.”
On Dec 6th, my mom and I spoke at my old boarding school, Westtown.  This was amazing for me because I had seen so many of these speakers on the stage through my HS years, but never imagined I’d be up there one day!  I spoke about what my experience has been, and then we took questions.
On Dec 15th, we went to Broad Street Ministries, which is the church where Malchijah (driver) plays the organ, and the community that has prayed for me.  I performed 3 songs with my aunt Jen, my uncle Richard, my teacher Kevin, the driver Malchijah and his wife Sarah:  Rainbow Connection, You’ll Be In My Heart, and The Circle of Life.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to express how incredible it was for me to be joining these people in music.  I woke up at 4:30 that morning, and couldn’t go back to sleep for the excitement.  We performed to the Broad Street community, as well as many of my family members and friends and it was truly a dream come true.  I also did the homily, which was an honor.  I spoke about the power of faith and forgiveness.  I felt very lucky.

The following Tuesday, I took my last oral exam in one class and submitted my last paper in another.  That week I celebrated the two year anniversary of when I was hit.  I feel incredibly grateful for all that I have been given, and that includes you.  Thank you.

I am infinitely grateful that Julia is with us this holiday.  Every day a fraction of her returns.  Recovering from a brain injury is incremental work.  When Julia was still in the hospital, my sister, Susan, sent me a TED Talk of someone who was brain injured 8 years prior.   It took her 8 years from her accident to performing the TED Talk.  8 years.  It brings me to my knees in gratitude that Julia has accomplished what she has in 2 years.  With humility and awe, I tell you she has exceeded my expectations.  And we’re just getting started.  I will never take prayer for granted again.
 An integral part of recovering neuro pathways and cognitive connections is the exercise of creativity.  We write all the time.  The following is a “Restorative Justice” rendition of the classic Rainbow Connection performed by her at the recent church service commemorating 2 years of hard work and growth.  I’m proud to say 90% of it is her,  including the clever chorus.
The RJ Connection (sung to the tune of Rainbow Connection)
Why are there so many
problems with justice
and helping folks really change?
Prisons are systems
but rehab illusions
and they are not changing ours ways.
So we’ve been told that
we are our bad actions
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it
Restorative Justice
Forgiver, Forgiven, and me.
Who said that every crime
should be harshly punished
just by us throwing up bars?
Somebody thought of it
and someone believed it
Where has that gotten us so far?
What is so healing that keeps us forgiving,
and what do we think we might be?
Someday we’ll find it
Restorative Justice
Forgiver, Forgiven, and me
All of us under it’s spell
we know that it’s probably magic
Have you been half awake
to know we have choices?
I know they’re calling my name
Is this the sweet sound
that calls us together?
The voice might be one and the same
What is so healing that keeps us forgiving,
and what do we think we might be?
Someday we’ll find it
Restorative Justice
Forgiver, forgiven, and me
In closing, to quote Julia’s Christmas letter to me:
“Thank you for helping to grow my spirit with fearlessness, faith, and enthusiasm.   I look forward to the next year of living, loving, laughing, and above all, always, learning.” 


3 thoughts on “2 Year Anniversary

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, and feel so amazed at how far you have come since your accident. It is truly inspiring. Best wishes for the future. Very nice to see you and your mom at Kathi’s !!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep up the amazing work Julia! It’s touching to hear qualities you had as a little girl be the very thing helping you embrace this experience and inspire others today. Thinking of you guys and continuing to send prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been a while since I checked in on your journey, Julia. I’m so glad I thought of it today! It always brings a smile to read your latest post. Thanks for the lyrics to RJ Connection. I like it! Forgiveness has been a difficult process for me. To see you embrace it with a smile and willingness is inspiring and also makes it feel more compulsory; if you can do it, so better had I. Thank you for sharing your progress. By the way, I hope you aced your exams.

    Liked by 1 person

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