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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The Shade

An email tonight from my mother left me in tears.  I love her so much. Her love reminds me when I get down, that the future doesn't matter when all you can do is live for each moment. 
I don't know what the morning will bring. How good or bad it will be. So I can't look forward to it. Looking back on what happened and why, does me no good. I used to bang my head against the wall (so to speak) dying to know how and why this happened. I drove my pain psychologist nuts. It did not matter how, or why. All that mattered was how am I today. How will I get through the now. Tomorrow is not mine to control. I can control my choice to react. 
The pain is the beast that controls my choices, and that is my biggest struggle. The only tool I've found to fight this, is to see how close my crashing sense of mortality brings me to God. When I flare, nothing else matters but God. He is all I have. All I live for. I know this sounds odd as a wife and mother of four, not to mention a daughter with incredible patents and a sister to a brother I adore. But without any effort, when my pain questions the meaning of life and why must I go on, it is my faith that this challenge is not selfishly for me to learn or grow. One's trial is a tool for God to help others witness their own mortality, to help others pause in reflection of their own lives. 
I never thought I'd be in a wheelchair. Nor that my greatest feat of a day would be learning how to load my chair into my car by myself by watching various YouTube videos by people like me. Folks who are young enough to drive a jeep,old enough to need an SUV, and secure enough to expose their vulnerabilities on a site where gimp-stalkers unite. 
I've accepted I am now a gimply one. We made it home from a rare dinner out that left my bones collapsing like pixie sticks. I transferred from my wheelchair to my stairlift and road it to the top, then waited for Don to bring my chair to the top landing. Then someone knocked on the front door. I can do this, I said. I held onto the banister and held my weight up to assist my steps to our bedroom. With each step my chest lowered closer and closer to the ground. By the time I reached our doorway, my trunk was parallel to the ground. My legs weighed a hundred pounds. And I needed my chair. Needed. Not wanted. Needed. 
I have come so far with my pain management, as long as I don't try to step, or walk, or sit for long periods of time. 
Tonight I realized I am now officially 95% wheelchair bound. 
I will not stop here. My latest stimulator surgery still needs time to seal in with scar tissue. Then I will dive into more therapy, and see if we can rebuild what muscle and brain connection to muscles can be rebuilt. 
So much has happened since my accident. So many turns, procedures and surgeries that have culminated in a life I never thought I would lead. What I do know, is that as horrible as I may feel at times about my new ability to memorize the paint pimples on the ceiling, when I pull my very own fully-blinged pitty-party card, I keep coming back to the fact that I know there is a plan. There has to be a plan. Or I will throw all of my blinged pitty party cards off my balcony to be shredded by various varmints overtaking this season's petunia patch. 
My faith in God, is my faith that the only thing that matters is what is in front of me, right now, in this moment, and how the loved ones in my life are faring due to present blessings or conflicts. When your life is broken down to making it through a day without tears,and looking for ways to make each moment one that may linger in others' minds, it's pretty simple to let go of the rat race I used to run with a heart so desperate to win, I never noticed the trees with shade along the way. 
My life now is all about shade. Not just for me, but for any one who wishes to get away from the race that no one wins. My friends stop by now and put their phone on silent. My home will be quiet as we visit during school hours, candles are lit and soft music will play. Things I never did before my life would dare slow down to be the silence we all need just to 'be'.  
My lesson of late is to share with my friends a reminder that life thrives when it is still. To turn off the phone while we hold hands. To look into each other's eyes when discussing a broken heart and knowing that heartache is seen by someone other than themselves. 
My gift this month is knowing that my doctors have altered my life. Pain levels, though complicated, are becoming more manageable if only I do not walk. When I lay flat or only use my chair, I can smile again -something I thought was lost for ever. I feel guilt and embarrassment that last fall my therapists got me to walk with poles and toes tied to my shins. I tried so hard to keep it up, only for my neck and spine to collapse in anguish, pummeling my optimism into the chair. The ego is a powerful foe when fighting to believe in your self. The irony is the ID can be your greatest fault when trying to find who you are once you've lost everything you've been. 
So, for now I am trying to accept different types of joy. The joy of teaching myself to load my chair into the car all by myself. The pride in dismantling my chair to bring it piece by piece upstairs on my lift to say to myself is be okay if I were alone. I find peace in smiling back at waiters who think my chair is kind of cool, or my kids friends who think my service dog is the celebrity of the school. 
So until we know if my new normal will all ever go away, it's my obligation to share the gifts I've found in the darkness of the shade. 
Micaela Bensko
Vice President
PO Box 1931
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
c 310-990-8389 

On Jun 6, 2014, at 10:12 PM, wrote:

Honey, I just left your blog, Who is this Lady, really is so beautiful, and so true for all of us. In a way you are lucky to be able to stop and know yourself, the rest of us race through life from one moment to the next, never stopping to figure out why.  I love you so much for helping me see life as it really is, full of such meaning, depth, reason, and questioning.  There are answers we will never know, days we will always wonder, but one thing I know, God is with you and I hope myself.  The reason for all of this will be revealed at some point of our life, or afterlife.
I know he gave me this absolutely beautiful daughter who challenged life both mentally and physically for 40+ years, and then an accident happened, one so difficult that it challenged her every thought and took apart every cell in her body.  She had to start reassembling herself all over again.  And she did it, not the same as before, but better in so many ways.  I love you honey, you are the beat of my heart and I thank God every night for having blessed me with you.


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