A little over a year ago I stumbled across a blog written by a young mother. Living in Arizona, with her four children and handsome husband, she wrote an inspiring blog about many things I loved. Motherhood, all things vintage, spirituality, life in general.
Then came the average morning when, as usual, I ran around my bedroom, hurriedly getting my girls ready for school. I happened to glance up at the Today show and froze in place, horrified at the story being told, realizing I knew who they were talking about.
It was one year ago Stephanie "Nie" Nielsen and her husband were in a fiery plane crash. The pilot was killed. Her husband was burned over 30% of his body. He broke his back trying to rip the door off to get her out of the burning plane. She was pulled out and laid her under a tree. Burned on about 80% of her body, there was not much hope that she would live.
But she did. Her husband emerged from a coma after about 6 weeks (if I remember correctly), it took her about two months. In the meantime, her sisters raised her children, and her family moved her home to Utah in order to help in their healing process.
Her sister blogged in the meantime, and I eagerly checked in each day to make sure her children and family were coping, and that somehow "Nie" was recovering.
In January she began blogging herself. Slowly, and honestly.
My heart ached as I read her baby steps back into life. I hurt when I read her heartache over her youngest son having difficulty recognizing her. When she told us how she missed her freckles.
Finally, this past weekend, she hiked to the "Y" in Provo, Utah. No small feat considering the intensive rehab she's had to undergo. She has written that her knees still barely bend.
What do I want to say in this post? How do you express your feelings for someone you will probably never meet in this lifetime but have grown to love dearly? It seems so silly to say, and yet it's so true. I think all I can say is that somewhere between posts of Halloween decorations and later the difficulty of accepting her new face, she touched my heart and life in a way that I find difficult to explain.
Congratulations on this huge milestone, this amazing feat. I know I will never meet you in person, but know that I am way over here across the country rooting for you, praying for you, hoping for you. I basically talk out loud as I'm reading your posts, encouraging you in your progress.
I know it was not easy for her to post this first picture of her new body, and I did not take it lightly. I cried silent tears at my computer screen, grateful that she felt she could entrust us with this. And I do not cry often, so that should say something.
We all have challenges. Deep, difficult, heartbreaking challenges. They come in different forms, and at different times in our lives. How nice it is when we can encourage each other, when we can bear each others' burdens.
Even from all the way across the country.
I love you, Nie.
Watch the Today video here
Meet Courtney, the sister who took in Nie's four children in a moment's notice (when she had a new baby herself) here
The most beautiful and harrowing article you'll read is here. It is an article that was printed in The Arizona Republic. If you read this article about the sisters, you'll understand why it makes me want to have more kids. :)
When you have a moment, dive into her archives and get to know her better. As she says, BC (before crash) and AC (after crash).