Happy Second Anniversary Month from the Detwilers!
As Joe and Cecilia’s big sister, I’d like to thank the Patch.com community for tuning in to read about Joe and Cecilia Detwiler’s recovery from their terrible accident in July of 2010 and offer an update on their journey.
If you recall, at the time of the accident, Joseph had a myriad of injuries to recover from including a fractured skull, a punctured lung, a severed ear, and a broken jaw—but the most threatening was his traumatic brain injury. It is an injury he continues to live with today. After graduating from full-time, outpatient therapy in December of 2010, Joe graduated from De Smet with his class in May 2011. He completed his first year of core curriculum college studies at Meramec Community College for the 2011-2012 year. With the techniques he learned in therapy to compensate for some memory trouble, Joe excelled and was very proud of his grades.
He was recently accepted to both Kenrick-Glennon seminary (where men study theology and discern if they are called to the Catholic priesthood) here in St. Louis, and to St. Louis University where he will complete the rest of his collegiate studies while in formation at the seminary. Our parents were psyched that FINALLY someone decided to explore a “preferred trade” in their eyes: the priesthood (both dentistry and medicine were also acceptable).
Most days, his social calendar is more full than mine while he visits friends home from college and new friends he is making. He has led a number of retreats and talks and is excited to move on with this new phase of his life.
Cecilia. Cecilia has had a very different recovery than Joe. While Joe’s recovery has been internal, in that he had to relearn how to remember items, to make connections, to have conversations, and how to reason with logic...Cecilia had to relearn how to walk, how to use the stairs, how to maneuver her body, and how to drive. She had a physically painful journey with several surgeries and countless hours of tortuous therapy, trying to get her knee to bend. She redubbed the “bad leg” Pearl ‘Lucifer’ Detwiler, who we iced up with 2 bags of trusty frozen green beans after each therapy session.
Cecilia is also a talented singer and this accident has “conveniently” given her more opportunities to share her talent at various functions, fundraisers, galas, and talks. She was even in a Fashion Show to raise funds for Ranken Jordan Rehab Hospital! But most of all, she spent several months in auditions for the show America’s Got Talent, and we saw her perform to a packed crowd at the Fox Theater in front of celebrity judges! The show aired in late June (my parents and Cecilia were in Vegas for 7 days and all we got was 24 seconds of air time), and though she didn’t advance to the live shows, it was a very cool experience. She has been visiting a number of colleges (she'll be a senior next year at Cor Jesu Academy) to try to narrow her choices down in time for application deadlines coming up soon.
Together, Cecilia and Joe recently went with my parents on summer vacation to Florida where Cecilia swam with dolphins and Joe ate his weight in crabcakes. They have also both been in a number of interviews including an article about the great work that Children’s Hospital's Critical Care Team did to save them and an event to celebrate the rural fire department emergency workers who were the first on the scene and who, in many doctors’ eyes, saved them. Friends of my parents submitted an entry that the St. James Fire Dept. should receive a grant for their excellent work and they won! They were awarded with $12,000 toward necessary equipment and Joe and Cecilia were there to celebrate.
I've often thought about what we might be feeling on anniversaries of that day, July 4, 2010...would it be rejoicing or mourning? Would it be in thanksgiving or remembrance?
As I reflect on the second anniversary, I think of how the story of Joe and Cecilia has forever changed us. After the doctor told us that Joseph would probably not make it through the night, I remember one of my siblings crying at the hospital and saying, "But we will never be the same again. Nothing will ever be the same again." It is true. We are not the same. Even two years later, we are not the same as we were. We cannot go back. But we believe in a God who "makes all things new," and it is there that we found, and continue to find, hope amidst our brokenness. You, too, have been a part of making our lives anew. On this day, and every day, we give thanks with an abundance of hope for joy in your lives as well.
Please know that we couldn't have done it without you, without your hardworking prayers, or without your support. We feel great thanksgiving for the love, generosity, humor, and margaritas you all have shared with us; your contribution to our sanity is well noted and appreciated.
It's been a wild and miraculous two years, people. Good hustle.
With all our hearts,