Today is my sister’s birthday. Birthdays are special but hers are especially so. You see, she almost died in July 2003. This week after the Sutherland Springs shooting, her birthday is even more poignant to me.
I am 22 months older than she is; I don’t remember not having her in my life. We didn’t get along as children. Our interests and talents are different. We understand that now. As children, we didn’t and it caused conflict. We shared a room until I was 13 and she was 11, When our family moved to the last house before our dad retired from the Marine Corp, they bought a bigger house. Peace then reigned. As teenagers, I remember that I knew she was always there for me even if we were very different.
As adults, we drifted apart. Nothing had happened to cause it. It was just the normal cares of life that take up time-family, jobs and living on opposite sides of the city. We were given the opportunity to reconnect and strengthen our bond.
That happened because of the fateful call came one afternoon in July 2003. Jane was a real estate agent at a Century 21 office in San Antonio. My mother called in tears that there had been a shooting at Century 21. Jane had been shot and had been airlifted to University Hospital. At this point, we did not have any details. Mom said to get to the hospital as fast as possible.
My husband came home from work and picked me up. So many things were in a blur that day. We passed the site of the shooting on the drive to the hospital. Hours later there was still a flurry of law enforcement personnel there and the traffic was horrible. When we arrived at the hospital, the media presence was unbelievable. Since they didn’t know who I was, we walked through unscathed. The medical staff escorted us to the surgery waiting room. There were already many family and friends there. My mother dissolved in tears into my arms. My father had died suddenly many years prior. My mother sobbed that she could not bear to lose her daughter too. She explained that my sister had been shot point blank in her right temple with a 357 Magnum. She needed delicate brain surgery to survive.
She wiped her eyes, gained a bit of control and told me the story of the first of many miracles. University did not have a neurosurgeon on staff at the time. They had one on “loan” from the military. He wasn’t on “loan”, he was sent on a Godly mission to save my sister’s life. He asked my mother if she believed in God. My mother, a devout Catholic, said yes. The doctor explained that he was a Morman and believed in God too. He said that he wasn’t God but that God used his hands. He successfully performed the surgery. A few months later, the military deployed him overseas.
Over the next few months of recovery, there were many more surgeries. Her rehab was intense. She had to relearn many skills. Some came back. Others she will never regain this side of heaven. She is permanently disabled. But God healed her brain. Her personality changed a bit. in some ways, she is more loving and caring than before. I do know that she loves the Lord in a way that she didn’t before the shooting. God is real in her life now. She talks about the faithfulness and love of her heavenly Father.
God was gracious and returned to her a talent that should have been lost with the extent of her injuries. My sister has been a beautifully skilled artist since she was a child. She could create paintings and drawings that would take your breath away. She was a skill commercial artist in the days when all drawings were done by hand. Her artistic style changed with the shooting. But now, her art is used for the glory of God and the healing of others.
There is so much more I could say about Jane but it would take several more posts! She is my hero. I love her. I am blessed to have her as my sister. On her birthday, I wanted you, my readers, to meet her too.
Check out this link, it tells more about her story. There is a video of her telling about the large version of the painting near my desk. There are three 4 ft square paintings hanging at the University Hospital. They are there to bring hope and healing.
Happy Birthday, Jane! I love you!