The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's






Glorious Rejoice Dots Glitter





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I Thought I Understood Our Warriors

I thought I understood the wounded warriors in our program at Rebuilding America's Warriors. I have worked with them for years. I have felt their wounds and held them to my chest. I have played with their children and hugged their wives. Awed at their prosthetics and ridden in their chairs. They have stayed in our home. One of their dog tags lays huddled in my jewelry box. A hat hangs in our daughter's room. A boot is propped on our shelf. Our families have bonded and we have spoken together to schools. I have stood back in awe of who they are and because of our time together felt I understood their struggle. Until now.

There is something that happens when your life is changed due to a health challenge. When surgeries and procedures never end. When you have lost the use of a limb. Our warriors are very positive in public. As though a prosthetic leg doesn't really matter. They are alive. That matters. But the truth is, their pain runs so deep, no one could see it if they tried. I have now lost the use of my left leg, and am undergoing endless procedures. My eyes have been opened.

What one experiences when life changes course, is not a woe-is-me. It is a where-is-me that erupts inside during this realization your life has changed. It is waking to a body you thought you knew, then someone changed its name. You become a stranger to yourself, with nothing in common but a memory of who you were. You recall the days you walked without pain, or when you could walk at all. You see a hand that is now limp and weak, the life seeping from its pours, and wonder where its life went. It is a process of mourning the death of you. The physical you. When you curl into a ball at night and hug your self so tightly. Your heart turns inside out with grief as tears from another world flow from your chin. You discover a cry you never had. When a sound comes out of your throat that all you want to do is hold.

But with mourning comes a peace. With time, you slowly begin to accept that you have changed. One day you will be in your scooter on a hot day and see others sweating as they walk. And you become grateful the chair does it for you. You arrive at a crowded mall and appreciate the placard and the parking for others who have changed too. You enter a store and people are kind. They offer to help. And you see a humanity that you once thought was lost. Children come over and think your stair lift is cool. Your friends become an extension of you, and they love you for how strong you can be. Not how weak you really are.

There are gifts in losing yourself. They are just difficult to see when blinded by the change. But the pain slowly fades when you think of only today. Today I will thank God that I can love my children because that can never be taken away. I will kiss my husband longer now because I know life is more fragile than before. I will appreciate my parents and know it's ok if they look at me like a child for now. Because for now I am. The fight for independence has become a longing to hold on to them. Because they hold the key to everything I used to be.

I love our warriors with all of my heart. I am ashamed I assumed I understood. I thank them for making me feel as though I did. But now I know a place that they have seen. It is now the warriors who touch my wounds, play with my children and have held me to their chest. Their actions have been the greatest gift of all. They are what helps make this all a little bit easier. Because of this, I can see purpose to what is my life's greatest challenge. I am not alone. And neither are they. A union of knowing. Of warriors with hands offered out to a girl who thought she understood. When there was still so very much to learn.

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