We just passed year four of Alexis’ injury. The first two years leading up to the date of the “anniversary” were excruciating. Any emotional healing I had done that first year started to fall apart in February and the sadness would continue well into the end of April. Year one couldn’t have been worse. I had my reasons.

The doctors had initially told us that the first year after her injury is when we would would see the most progress, and then after that it would just stop. So for an entire year I lived with this deep fear that where ever Alexis was at in terms of progress on April 3, 2009 is where she would be at forever. I envisioned her being dependent on someone for the rest of her life. But the clock ticked away that day, and she kept getting better. Lesson learned, thank you April 3rd.

Year two of her injury was a little bit easier, but it still loomed over me like a dark shadow. We celebrated her life again with cake and gifts, and then the same on year three. All of this was well and good…because our goal was to make it a special and happy day. After all, it was the day that she survived a life threatening injury.

But something magical happened this year, something I didn’t expect. The
“anniversary” of year four came and went. We didn’t even realize until 11 o’clock on April 2nd that tomorrow was “the day”. We didn’t write a care page post, we didn’t make a video. We had dinner at home, and went on with our life. I didn’t stew over it for two months. And it was so liberating. Again lesson learned April 3rd.

April 3rd has taught me more than I ever wanted to learn. That day altered the course of my life, good and bad. But what Apri l 3rd a taught me this year was that God can heal you in time.

I have found that I am a better person because I was broken. I am lucky in an unlucky circumstance. It taught me that families can stay together under extreme and trying circumstances. And you have to embrace the tragedy, forgive, and move on, in order to heal.

April 3rd taught me that people are good, kind, and caring.

April 3rd taught me that small towns and strangers will reach out in your time of need.

April 3rd has brought amazing people into my life, taught me patience, and has lead me to share  important messages with others.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d do anything to change that day. I’d give anything to see Alexis grow up without a brain injury. But I can’t change the past. So after four years I can honestly say that I have embraced April 3rd for what it is. For the first time in four years, I have been really happy.

I plan to keep it that way.

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.