Artscape: Rachel Widomski speaks
Since May 15, 2008, Rachel Widomski hasn't done anything in the way of public speaking.
That night, Widomski, then a Haiku server, and her boss, Julie Liu, were run over in the restaurant's parking lot by Michael A. Rose as he fled an unpaid tab. Both were seriously injured; Widomski's spine was severed, leaving her paralyzed below the waist.
Family members and attorneys have spoken for her in the months since, as Widomski has focused on physical rehabilitation and returning to her art studies at Ohio State.
Meanwhile, the courts have dealt with Rose, who pled guilty and in February received a 15-year sentence; and the city's artist and service-worker communities have galvanized to raise funds for Widomski's medical and living expenses at a number of benefit events.
Now, as many who've supported her prepare for this weekend's kickoff of the 25th-anniversary year of Gallery Hop, Widomski has something she'd like to say herself.
Widomski has chosen not to do interviews on the advice of her attorneys, but she issued a statement to local media this week about the events of the past 15 months. It's uniquely positive, with a strong sense of gratitude.
"I wish there was a word to describe my appreciation for this amazing community, who supported myself and my family in such a dark hour," she writes. "The largest honor I can give is to tell you all that you are now my family, and your compassion will never be forgotten."
Widomski's full statement appears below.
Rachel Widomski's statement:
I live to see the beauty in every occurrence. I do not believe in fate as absolute; contrarily it is our response to destiny that shapes our existence.
I remember the day that they told me that I would not be able to walk again, I tried to cry, but couldn't. I already knew. I remembered the moment that it happened. I had already accepted it.
My response was, "What's next?"
I have faced much adversity in my short life of 29 years. Sometimes I feel as if I've lived the life of someone three times my age. It was these life vicissitudes that gave me the strength needed to overcome this incident.
It has been 16 months of learning how to live again. I have had to relearn everything, even how to merely sit. The body will heal with time, but the mind must be strong to drive it.
My December birthday brought about living without medical assistance. The New Year started my independent study at home. March brought about learning how to drive. In the spring, true to its nature, everything came full circle as I returned to OSU.
There are many times when my body cannot keep up with my determination. I welcome and embrace those days, same as the accomplished ones. I greet each day with an open accepting soul, even the unpalatable ones.
Not one day begins without overwhelming gratitude for every person who has touched my life in the passing months. I wish there was a word to describe my appreciation for this amazing community, who supported myself and my family in such a dark hour. The largest honor I can give is to tell you all that you are now my family, and your compassion will never be forgotten.
My legacy is not tragedy, but something more that has yet to be discovered.
Truth and compassion,