April 3rd ~ the date that changed our lives forever…

Written by Tiffany Verzal

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.

About the author

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.


  • Tiffany,

    The strength you and Brandon have shown is beyond amazing! I am truly blessed to say that you are all my friends.

  • You are special, loved, and adored. A gift from God, a sweet reward. Your smile lights up every day. You are a blessing to the world, hip hip hooray! You’re fun to be with, fun to love, a happy treat from God above. So thankful he created you, n glad you got to CELEBRATE WITH MUCH ADO!! HE will take great delight in YOU, HE will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 words by DAYSPRING. MANY BLESSINGS ♥ Abundant love n laughter, peace n grace, your story is a great inspiration for us all. Your words are so true, ” 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.” So true so true! Again many blessings, THE ROURKES, KS

  • Hi Tiffany,
    I wanted to stop by and give you a HUG! I’m one co-founders, your story is every mom’s nightmare but the grace and faith you have stands! This is one of the reasons we stopped putting our kids in daycare. I witnessed my in home daycare provider yanking my two year old (at the time) by her arm. And a few years later, I tried working again, my infant son arrived home with a huge bruise on his leg at a respected daycare center.
    Thank you for sharing your story and raising awareness about TBI.

  • I used to work with Bri Snider and heard your story from that first day in April. I am so thankful for where you are now and for your darling girl. May your faith continue to grow and may Alexis live a long and happy life!

  • Hi Tiffany,
    I clearly remember Alexis’s story and the tragedy of it. My husband suffered a brain injury in August of 2009 and was at MaDonna the same time Alexis was. I recall walking by her room and sharing the same pain you felt. Brain injuries are devastating to the entire family but like you said improvement can be made. The anniversary date is a difficult day for me as well. You mourn the life you once had. Time does have a way of easing the pain but it is alway pretty close to the surface. Thank you for your candid remarks.

  • Thank you for sharing this story. My husband’s brain injury happened in 2004 and this was the first anniversary that passed by without me noticing much. He continued to make great progess even more than five years after. I too rememeber the feeling that his recovery would just stop. There is so much we do not know about the brain. You seem like an amazing person with a beautiful daughter.