In the spirit of mindfulness and gratitude, I wanted to share what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, even someone like me with thousands of things to be grateful for, needs to slow down and remember them a bit more.
So here’s my list! I hope it inspires you to move a tad more slowly this Thanksgiving, to engage more deeply with those you love, and concentrate on what’s “right” in your life.
I am grateful for the revolving door. I’m sure it sounds funny to be thankful for an inanimate object, but I am! That door served as a physical barrier between me and the many bullets, as well as inhibited the shooter’s precision.
I am grateful the shooter used a 9mm handgun and not an assault weapon. Even after being shot twelve times I lived. Swap out the 9mm for an assault weapon and I would not have, along with many more.
I am thankful for Police Officer Al Staples! As soon as Al entered my vantage point I started to fight again. I believed I had a solution for getting out of this mess and home to my family. He gave me hope when I thought there was none.
I am thankful for Police Officers Jennifer Chilton, Eric Kaminsky, Greg Toyeas, and Tony Etter. Do you realize this team of four had never partnered together before? On that day their muscle memory kicked in and they worked bravely to eliminate the danger. I am alive because of this team.
I am thankful the police department had recently completed active shooting and “Stop the Bleed” training. Trainings like these can save lives and I benefitted because of them. Instead of waiting for paramedics to take action, I was lucky to have first responders on the scene apply tourniquets immediately.
I am grateful I was shot twelve times and no bullet hit a major artery or organ. How did I get so lucky?
I am grateful for Mark Erhardt and Ben Hoffman, my previous boss and current boss, respectively. They, along with a few other peers, like Jeff Schroeder and Kimberly Brown, came to the hospital to offer positive energy and prayers until my family could arrive from Louisville.
I am grateful for the amazing team of doctors, nurses, and medical staff at UC Medical Center that collectively saved my life! From nurses like Robbie Thomas to surgeons like Drs. Michael Goodman and John Wyrick, I ended up at a Trauma 1 Center with, sadly, plenty of experience in gun violence injuries.
I am grateful for everyone who supported my family through meals, play dates, care packages, and visits. It is extremely humbling to see your village and extended village, and by extended I mean friends I haven’t talked to in over 10+ years, come out of the woodwork to lend a helping hand. And even acts of kindness from strangers. It brings me to tears to think about how kind the world can be. Thank you.
I am grateful for family! From my aunts and uncles who brought me meals, to cousins who helped get our home in working condition after just moving in, to my mother-in-law who chauffeured me endlessly on little sleep, to my brother and sister-in-laws who sent care packages, to my aunt in North Carolina who flew in to support Waller’s show, to my cousin who waited on me hand and foot for three straight weeks. I am so thankful for your love and support.
I am grateful for my friends. I can’t begin to name names but you know who you are. You flew or drove in at a moment’s notice. You built my website. You cared for my children. You unpacked my home. You made me laugh. I could go on forever. I will be paying it forward for a lifetime.
I am grateful I get to be a sister and that Megan is my sister. Our bond is unbreakable and I wish for everyone to have a best friend like her. And that village I mentioned earlier, she led that village.
I am grateful I get to be a daughter. My mother and father’s love is unrelenting. My father spent hours recreating photographs of the scene as a thank you gift to the police officers that saved my life. My mother worked herself so hard taking care of me and my children that she fell off my porch and broke her hip one night when watching them. Now it is time for me to take care of her! I am a lucky girl to have their love.
I am grateful I get to be a mother. That I get to cuddle my son and daughter. That I get to dance with them. That I get to shape their minds and hearts. This is why I fought to live and to get my reward... I need nothing else in life.
I am grateful I get to be a wife. To hold each other up when the other is too weak to move forward. To provide unconditional support as we learn to put one foot in front of another. I love you so much, Waller Austin.
I am grateful for my faith. I will never completely understand it, but the peace it brings is healing.
Lastly, I am grateful for my scars. Scars that will remind me daily that I can never forget what happened to me and that propel me to take action. WhitneyStrong has been the biggest blessing to me and I vow to make a difference for all of us.