What I Now Know: Zack Collie

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on September 09, 2019 # Relationships, What I Now Know, SCI Awareness

Dear Zack,

Today you will wake up and your life will be changed forever. It is Memorial Day. May 31, 2010. You are fifteen years old. I know at this time you cannot comprehend the magnitude of what just happened to you. You dove into a wave at the beach and hit a sandbar headfirst paralyzing your entire body instantly. You completely shattered your C-4 vertebrae and are now an incomplete quadriplegic. This means you have paralysis in all four of your limbs. Life as you know it is over and you have no hope.

This injury will break you down to your core. It will test you mentally, emotionally, and physically. I want you to know you will be okay. You are going to get through this and have no idea the doors and opportunities that are going to open because of your spinal cord injury. However, it is not going to be easy. You lost your independence completely and now have to rely on others for help every single day. You realize all the simple things you took for granted. You are going to lose a lot of friends, which may hurt you at first, but your injury will show you who your true friends are. You will lose confidence in yourself and feel hopeless at times, but don’t give up. You are surrounded by a loving family, friends, and community. I know you have questions about your future. What will it look like now? Will I have a future? Will I ever find love? Who would ever want to be with someone in a wheelchair? How will I work and make enough money to live on my own and support myself? What kind of life is this? Is this a life worth living? The list goes on…

I want to tell you right now that you will accomplish more achievements in your life post-injury than you would have in your entire pre-injury life. You will grow and mature into a person you never thought you could be. You will inspire and give motivation to others. Your life did not end, it simply started over. After your accident, you will go back to high school and graduate with all of your classmates. For your graduation, you will walk across the stage in front of your entire school in a walker with the help of two physical therapists and receive your diploma. After graduating from high school, you will be accepted into Cal State University Fullerton and graduate from college with a Bachelor of Science and be the first one in your immediate family to have a college degree. This injury will strengthen the relationship you have with your family and bring you closer to God. You will meet an amazing woman and fall in love. You will move out and live on your own. After graduating from college, you will continue your education and be accepted into a master’s program for counseling.

I can say so much more but I will end with this. You will learn to accept your injury and not let it define who you are. You are still the same Zack you were before. You will overcome your insecurities and self-doubts. You are so strong and will not let your disability hold you back from doing what you want to do in life. Sometimes there are situations in life that are completely out of your control. You cannot change what happened to you, but you can choose how you are going to react to the situation. Life is all about your attitude and perception. Never give up and keep moving forward. God has big plans for you. Persevere.

- Zack