Nearly 14 years ago, while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, my mother took both our children, then 6 and 4, to a regular grandparents fun day at Chuck E Cheese. Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary. Except, on this day, our whole lives were forever changed when she inadvertently went through an intersection and was killed. Both of our children were in their car seats, however, due to the severity of the accident, suffered severe and near-fatal traumatic brain injuries.
This led to years of all kinds of therapy, from physical to psychological - but our family was left with deep sadness at what could have or should have been for a very long time. It wasn't until about eight years after the accident that I finally decided to seek help in getting my life back on track. So, I started by getting slowly back into the workforce in a part-time job at a children's retail store at an outlet mall about 6 years ago. I had not gone to college but I had a lot of skills and experience, so that helped.
About a year into that role, I left the store I worked at and jumped at an opportunity to be the Head of Marketing and Web Design for a small business in a local town. After about a year and a half, I was starting to feel like I could get my life back and I felt compelled that there was more for me and for our family out there in the world. I wanted to change it and I wanted to do something to impact the future generations of special needs parents like me.
I was then recruited by a marketing agency in Texas, so we made a big move from New Jersey and took a risk. It was an incredible experience for me and I learned so much. I owe a lot to that company and to the mentorship I received that always pushed me to dream bigger and do more - and this is what eventually led me to my job as a Community Manager at Facebook.
Now that I am here, I am finally able to see the bigger picture of what we are trying to do here as a company and as a culture. I have never felt more supported, not just in my role, but in my life by my team and colleagues. I attribute this to my resiliency and my drive to never give up.
I was given a choice: stay in bed and cry and be miserable thinking about what could have or should have been. But I decided that was not what would help others like me. I wanted to reach them and I wanted to make our future generations better in any work that I could do for the rest of my life.
While my story may start off sad, the ending will be great because the story in between is inspiring me to do more and do better. I just wanted to share in case anyone else felt they were stuck like I was at the beginning. You aren't alone, but we have to find both the motivation and the support to do more and continue to make the world we leave behind better for future generations. My children are now doing much better and are always sharing ideas on how we make the platform not just more accessible, but more functional to teens like them with severe disabilities. They are more resilient than I could ever be.
You can watch this video to learn more about the journey my family getting through this challenge together.