I (finally) made it out of Houston, had passed Huntsville and continued on my way up I-45 North when it suddenly dawned on me...that when we are born, are given the ability to breathe, it is a gift. But as we die, we must ask our bodies to fight to keep what we've been given at birth, and as we all know, sometimes it is not God's will that it be that way and it is just simply"our time to go." I then thought of my birthday, May 5, 1982. On that day, I am supposed to celebrate my birth, my life...hence, "birthday" and thought of the day of the attack, August 10, 1990, the day I survived; a "re-birth" in a sense. As I kept driving, I found myself tearing up thinking of the miracles that happened, one right after another, so that I would survive. From the drizzling rain to keep my wound moist that day, to the fireants clotting the blood in my wound, to the children playing at just the right time in the field to find me before my body gave up, and then to survive and gain back my voice...it all continues to amaze me. I am just beyond grateful that it wasn't my time to go, and that I am able to share my story with so many wonderful people, from so many different places.
I pulled into the conference site, The Sheraton in Downtown Dallas, and as I stepped out of the car, it felt like a hairdryer was blowing right in my face. The temperature? 115 degrees, according to my car. I live on the coast, and it isn't even that bad...and I had four more days of this exhausting heat before returning home. I had to brace myself. Luckily, the AC was blowing hard inside the hotel and I was able to get all checked-in and settled in my room comfortably. Well, until dinner when we walked 8 blocks to get to the Iron Cactus in the sweltering heat. I by this time, was ready for an iced tea. Our group from Galveston County all went to dinner together, about 17 of us total, and we were all looking forward to some drinks and mexican food; until our waiter appeared, sweating profusely, might I add...and had a "hypo-glycemic attack" - needless to say, I never got that tea, and ordered a margarita instead...about an hour later since he was running behind because of his episode which some were sarcastically calling a "hydroponic" attack. haha - we will never know what was REALLY going on with that guy...I'm still hoping none of his sweat dripped into my guacamole.
Moving right along, the first day of the conference was Monday. Elizabeth Smart was the plenary speaker, and read a speech. I was hoping to get a picture with her, but she didn't stay to mingle, and went to a press conference instead..pretty disappointing. Detective Cromie & I sat in on a workshop Ed Smart, Elizabeth's dad hosted with a lady whose son has been missing for over twenty years, very sad but what incredible strength that woman has to never give up hope her son will one day come home! We then met up with Agent Rennison in the afternoon and then went over our presentation the following morning as a refresher since we were presenting Tuesday afternoon. Both presentations, one 3 hour on Tuesday, one 3 hour on Wednesday, went really well! Wednesday's presentation was bittersweet as it was the 21st anniversary of my attack; yet I was standing infront of hundreds of people, not only telling my story with my two heroes, but also educating everyone in the audience (nurses, therapists, social workers, members of law enforcement, DA's, victim advocates, etc.) on how important it is to let victims have a voice! During both presentations, there were wonderful questions asked at the end, and the entire conference was one that I'll certainly never forget - it was very insightful and powerful!
This day, 21 years ago, was not just another day being alive...it was the day I survived, and I just can't thank you all enough for continuing to be so supportive! Let's all continue to the fight in conquering crime, one voice at a time!