Darrell’s arms scoped her out of bed in their morning routine and he carefully carried her over to her metal prison. Katrina’s blue eyes flashed open as metal melded with her flesh, allowing mobility to enter her life again. She grimaced and readjusted her position before wheeling herself over to her dresser to begin the process of preparing for her long day.
“Nervous?” Darrell whispered, brushing a kiss on her cheek.
A tittering laughter filled the air before Katrina answered. “Just slightly, I never thought that I’d be the one to be doing this.”
He grinned, his dark brown eyes twinkling in the bedroom light, but stepped away to prepare for his own day.
Katrina quietly got dressed and then found herself gazing into the mirror. No one in high school would recognize her now. She had gone from an outgoing, popular teenager to a withdrawn girl who wouldn’t speak to anyone; all because of a car accident her senior year. It was the accident that had landed her in the wheelchair for the rest of her life.
The accident had shattered her self-confidence. Three years after officially graduating from high school Katrina found herself wallowing in a cycle of depression and self-pity. Only to be rescued by Darrell Densmith.
That was thirteen years ago.
Darrell had returned to her side. He grinned as he playfully unlocked the wheel and ‘helped’ push her out to their van. Katrina laughed and swatted at him once before allowing Darrell to help her into the van. It was important that she arrived looking dignified today; after all it wasn’t any day that a person would give a speech at her old high school for graduation.
“Help me welcome a woman who not only is an Alumina from Jessie Owens High School, but also has risen above personal tragedy...Dr. Katrina Noë-Densmith …”
Katrina smiled gratefully towards the student body president as another student replaced the tall podium with one she could use. She licked her lips, placed the speech on the podium, and stared out into the crowd.
“Thank you Ms. Summers.” Katrina paused and closed her eyes before laughing once. “Wow, it’s been a long time...” She paused and laughed again as the students in the audience laughed as well. “I had a speech prepared for you and I suddenly realized that it’s not what you, the Class of 2013, need to hear.”
The auditorium grew silent and Katrina could feel everyone’s gaze fixate upon her. “I realized that you don’t need to hear all the clichés of ‘you are great and that you’ll change the world,’ because you know that already.” She paused for a moment then continued. “What you, the Class of 2013, need to hear is to treat each day like it was your last one on this earth.”
“I was in a horrific car accident when I was a month away from walking the line. The car that hit me, the driver walked away but I was up in a coma for a month, and then spent the next three months in the hospital enduring operations to try to repair my back.” Katrina sucked in a deep breath. “I officially graduated with my class; my name was called, but I never got to walk like you will today. To make a long story short, I had gone from a life of independence and movement to one of being a hostage—of my own body. I sank deeper into a depression, until I had a wake up call from the man who is now my husband.”
“Young people hear me! Seize each day as if you have no tomorrow. That was the only way, outside of my faith in God, that I was able to go anywhere in my life. Thank you for your attention and time and best of luck, Class of 2013.”
Katrina slowly took the sheet of paper off the podium, as the silence was shattered by applause. Ms. Summers came up beside Katrina, smiling widely.
“Dr. Noë-Densmith, it would be our honor if you would be the first to walk for our class tonight.” She whispered, settling a cap on Katrina’s head.
Katrina laughed loudly as she nodded. “It would be my honor.”
Dr. Katrina Elizabeth Noë-Densmith.
Katrina rested her hands on the wheels and slowly pushed herself across the stage as the audience began to cheer. Katrina grinned as she shook the final hand and thrust a fist into the air. She was restored.
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