Sunday 20th March 2016. As hard as I try, I will never be able to erase this day from memory. It is the day I walked out of an upturned bus with four broken vertebrae, a broken sternum and neck, surviving a crash the Spanish authorities labelled the ‘worst accident they’ve seen in 30 years’. The past year has been a year of ups and downs, but strangely enough I wouldn’t say it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, if anything it’s made me a stronger person.
Had you said this to me a year ago, I would have laughed in your face. A ‘stronger person’… please, this has ruined my life. I was only seeing the short term effects, and this was mirrored in the faces of the people that came to visit me in the hospital – friends from school, college, my ex, friends of family – all bearing the same look. Looks of concern, pity, and slight horror- all contributing to the overwhelming fear that I was never going to get back from this. However, a year on, I realise just how many things this has taught me. Although the past year has been a year of uncertainty, pain, more pain, and a lot of emotion, it has been a year of realisation and learning and developing.
I’ve realised the importance of not judging a book by its cover; first impressions are not always the most important. It made me appreciate that many people are fighting their own battles, going through their own struggles and some people are just better at hiding it than others.
I’ve realised that life is too short to hold grudges. Why concern yourself with things that don’t truly affect you? If you have an issue with someone, tell them. Don’t let it stew and become something bigger than it needs to be, that way you can invest your time, energy and thoughts into things you actually care about.
I’ve realised the utmost importance of friends and family. From the very beginning, to a year on, I’m grateful for the amazing support network I have around me – it stretches from here to Barcelona and I can 100% say that they kept me sane when things were tough.
I realised just how many hours are in a day. When you can’t physically move from bed without a back brace and assistance, a lot of time is spent staring at the clock waiting for the next thing to happen. Coming back to university, I realised how much can be achieved in 24 hours, as long as you stay focus and avoid distractions.
I realised it was time to take a step back from social media. Snapchat almost defeated me during my recovery period. Trapped in a bed, in my house away from anyone, the constant updates from friends in both Barcelona and England made me constantly miserable, instead of focusing on myself, and my day, I spent time thinking about what other people were doing.
I’ve realised that it was time to let go of body insecurities and love the body that you have. After mine enabled me to crawl out of a bus, instead of seeing flaws and imperfections, I’ve developed a new level of respect and a pride for the body that kept me alive.
But, perhaps, most importantly, I’ve realised how important it is to live thoroughly in the moment. Leave the past in the past, worry about tomorrow when it comes and stop wishing something to happen. If you spend every day planning the next, then you never fully appreciate the moment that you have.
So although there are still days when my back is in so much pain that I struggle to move, days when I am constantly tired no many hours I sleep for, or when I have flashbacks and my mind wonders back to that day, all these things are a small price to pay for the recovery that I’ve been able to make. As cliché as it sounds, I realised that you should never, ever take life for granted, as it can be over at any moment.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members and friends of the thirteen who lost their lives on this day.