The Power of a Family

Abby - Versailles, Kentucky
Entered on December 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Family and Friends have always been a crucial part of my existence. From the time I was young I have always loved spending time with my family. My family is very close and supportive, that’s what I believe we need. We need the support of a loving family for help through the hard times and to laugh with us through the good times.

Almost as soon as I started my first year at Woodford County High School I was drawn to a certain group of people that seemed to always be together. Their open friendliness was impossible for me to ignore as a new student in a fairly large high school, and we soon became very close. For some unknown reason, we called ourselves the “Comfy Kids.” I think it was used jokingly at first, but then it sort of stuck. And I loved it.

One of the guys in the group, Dusty, the All-American Swimmer, with a 4.0 and undeniably good looks, always caught my attention. On July 4, 2007, Dusty’s life changed drastically. Dusty, his mother and his sister had decided to go on a trail ride for the holiday. After riding horses all day, Dusty decided to cool off in his family’s pond. As he dove into the pond, he said something didn’t feel right. He couldn’t move. Dusty had broken his neck and was paralyzed. His sister ran into the pond after him as his mother galloped away to go get help.

Around ten o’clock that night I received a confusing voice mail from Dusty’s girlfriend, Linzay. Her normally apathetic attitude was completely changed, and her generally monotone voice was almost shrieking. The fact that Linzay was so upset and in shock made me panic even more.

As soon as I was filled in, I ran to my dad and tried to explain what had happened. In my frantic state, my dad couldn’t entirely understand what I was saying, but he tried to console me anyways. After a night of worry, I woke up the still incredibly upset at the fact that one of my best friends was possibly paralyzed. This is where my family came in. My mom made me comfort food, my sister did my chores, and my dad tried to find out as much information about Dusty’s situation as he could. This was the support I needed.

After all of my family’s support I decided I was ready to go visit my companion, still in the ICU. My once gorgeous, muscular, athlete of a friend had been morphed in to a 100 pound, six foot two inch skeleton; in just a matter of weeks. Not only was I shocked to see his physical state, but he was incredibly depressed. I had never seen Dusty in anything but a cheerful mood.

His generally good attitude is what eventually got him out of that bed and into the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Facility. After many months of intense physical therapy, the possibility of walking was all Dusty could think about, until the State Swimming meet in February 2008. Dusty seemed happy to go to the swim meets and to watch the races that he should have, would have, won. But inside he wasn’t happy.

I hadn’t been to a Wednesday night youth service at my church in a couple of weeks, but that night I decided to go. When I got to church there was a strange hush as soon as I walked in. The youth group was acting odd but I decided to go look for some of the people I knew. I noticed tears in my friends’ eyes as my youth pastor pulled me aside. He asked if he could talk to me and I said okay, still not sure of what was going on.

He broke it to me rather quickly, but somehow very easily. Dusty had used what strength he had left to take a gun to himself. He was dead. Tears immediately erupted from me and I gripped on to my youth pastor for what seemed like hours. My family also heard the terrible news and came shortly after I found out. Even in my emotional state, I knew what I had to do. I knew that Jill, Dusty’s closest friend in the group would be distraught. I had my parents drive me to her house. I was the first one there.

I found her in the dark. She was inconsolable as I wrapped my arms around her and we both sobbed. About 15 minutes after I arrived, one by one, the Comfy Kids showed up. We all knew where to go. Where we were needed. I have never in my life felt so supported. My friends became my family that day. We sat in Jill’s living room silent, except for the soft sound of someone crying.

In the days that came we only grew closer. We all stayed together, still not saying much. When it finally came time for all of us to go back to school, I was shocked. Dusty’s death not only had brought the school together, but it had also changed the overall attitude of the school. As one of Dusty’s close friends I noticed a change in the student population. The students weren’t the only ones affected by Dusty’s death though, the faculty had changed too, they were more understanding and united. These changes made the ease back into school a little easier.

We tried to finish the rest of our senior year with a good attitude. As time went on it definitely got easier but we never forgot. We will never forget. I now have two support systems, my family and my family of friends. I know that without all that support, my friends and I would have never made it through that life altering experience. But we did, we made it through by the support we gave each other and by the thought that we would see Dusty again someday. That is the hope that I still hang on to today.