When Life Doesn’t Go According To Plan – My Story
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to help those who couldn’t help themselves. Knowing the law has it’s advantages. When used properly, it has the power to change lives.
When I was accepted to law school, it was one of the happiest days of my life. Everything I had worked so hard for had finally paid off. I had so many hopes and dreams about what law school would be like, and I had been planning for this exact moment ever since I could remember. My husband was extremely excited for me, and we agreed that this was the best move for our family despite being midway through building our new home, running a business that couldn’t be moved, and being married less than a year. Sam was my rock, and I’m so thankful that he wanted me to pursue my dreams even though it wasn’t always easy.
In August of 2013, just days before leaving for school, my husband and I were involved in a hit-and-run with a drunk driver. One night, we were leaving our apartment, when we were t-boned on my side. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room, where we were told that it seemed I had no major injuries. I was bruised and extremely sore, but overall, everything seemed to be ok. Despite the accident, I packed up my bags and headed out to Toledo, Ohio with my little pup, Button, to study law on a full tuition scholarship. I was bright eyed, and ready to conquer the world – THIS was my Elle Woods moment.
For the first few months, Sam was back in Indiana much of the time overseeing the completion of our new home, which was taking WAY longer than planned. While neither of us had planned to live in different states as newlyweds, we both knew it would be worth it in the end.
Fast forward to December 8th, 2013 – the night before my first set of finals. I was heading back to Toledo from our new home in Indiana to take my property final the next morning. I was so ready to get that first final over with, and I was super excited for Christmas break. I was about a mile and a half into my trip when I was plowed by a Tahoe that blew through a stop sign. This time, I wasn’t able to power through the pain. I crawled out of my car and quickly realized that my hand was about twice it’s normal size, and I was in a lot of pain. I crawled around to the back passenger door to pull my crying pup out of her mangled crate. The kind lady who lived in the house right by the crash site brought me into her home, wrapped my hand in an ice pack, and gave me a blanket until my family arrived. I’ll never forget her kindness.
As soon as my husband and parents arrived, everyone forced me to go to the emergency room. I was not terribly logical, and I was convinced that I was still going back to Toledo that night to take my finals. As much as I fought it, I finally agreed to go to the ER. Long story short – I had herniations in my neck, fractures in my back, a tear in my rotator cuff, a break in my hand, and I was an emotional wreck.
I did head back to Toledo the next week along with my mom, and I completed my finals throughout my Christmas break. Each final took me about eight hours, and I had to complete them orally while my mom typed because of my broken hand. The Dean oversaw the whole process, and let me just say – it was absolute hell. I must also mention that I was on very heavy painkillers, which only made the whole situation worse. I managed to pass all of my classes, but my GPA wasn’t high enough to keep my full ride. I cut my class load second semester, but refused to quit. My husband had to be home for work, especially since the medical bills were mounting – and quickly! My mom drove me back and forth every weekend, and she stayed with me in Ohio so that I could finish my first year of school. My mom was incredible, and I never could have done it without her. Her selflessness amazed me on a daily basis.
After the loss of my scholarship, coupled with the fact that I was not doing well at all emotionally and medically, I made the heartbreaking decision to leave law school. I had never felt devastation like that before, and I quickly struggled with feelings of inadequacy, anger, and fear. Though I had never planned to take time off from school, I realize now that it gave me the time I needed to really figure out who I am, and what is really important to me.
Though the past year and a half has been filled with struggles, I now believe that I am a stronger and more compassionate person because of what I went through. I can’t say that I understand why everything had to happen the way that it did, but I do know that I can look back now, and see some good in a very bad situation. After much counseling, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I have seen over 18 doctors since the two accidents. I have had very good days, and very very bad days. I started this blog as an outlet for my creativity, and I have been overwhelmed by the amazing people I have met. I have made new friends, started an interior design/event design business, and shared all of the projects that my husband and I have completed in our home. For many months, I tried to adjust to my new life, but something still kept bothering me. I knew what I needed to do, I just didn’t want to do it.
As much as I fought it, I knew my law school journey wasn’t over. I kept asking for God to give me an audible answer…to just tell me what to do. I wanted a clear sign if I was going to put myself back in the very place that had caused me so much pain. Reluctantly, I followed my gut, and I applied to my dream school.
I promised God that if I got in, I would finish this thing, and I would use my law degree to help people one day. Sometimes, God calls us to do things we don’t want to do. Guess what…
I’M GOING TO NOTRE DAME LAW IN THE FALL!
Not to worry, I will still be doing home projects, and I will still be blogging about them. I will also be taking on a limited number of interior design clients (this also includes e-design!), but I will be finishing up law school as well. Just imagine – in two years, I can come decorate your home and give you legal advice at the same time!! 😉
As much as it would be so much easier to just forget about this whole law school thing, I feel that this is what God is calling me to do at this time. The past few weeks have been tough for me, and I have been questioning this move every day since I received my acceptance letter. I fear that I’m not smart enough, that I have forgotten everything in my year off, and that I won’t be able to keep up with all of my amazingly talented peers at ND…but you know what, I know God wouldn’t have asked me to do this if he wasn’t going to help me. I’m not saying that I won’t have to work hard, and that there won’t be moments where I feel like I am never going to be able to finish this thing….but I’m not alone in this. I have amazing family, friends, and most importantly – I have Jesus!
Sorry for such a long post, and if you have made it to the end of this, you are amazing! I haven’t shared much of this with too many people, but as I start this next chapter of my life, my hope is that sharing my story will allow me to move forward. A huge thank you to the family and friends who have been by my side – I will never forget your kindness. To my praying friends, please pray for me over the next couple of weeks – I am going to need it!
When things get really rough I dream about graduation day, the giant party with a pink gavel cake (mom, don’t forget you promised to bring the cake! ;)…) that my family has promised to throw, and the power I will have to really help people who maybe haven’t had the same opportunities that I have had. At the end of the day, I am so blessed!
Avery L. Aragona Burns, Esq.
(OK…not yet…a girl can dream though!!)
Dearest Avery, thank you for this incredibly honest and heartfelt post. You, Devon and Tracy are constantly in my thoughts and prayers and I am grateful that God put you guys in my life. I am so proud of all that you have accomplished already and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store. You’re right — sometimes we go through pain, sometimes God calls us to do something that isn’t necessarily easy, but in all things He is with us, and He is using everything that happens to us for our good and for the good of His people. I will continue to pray for you as you start this new chapter.
As a sufferer of anxiety, fibromyalgia and other chronic issues, I know what a psychological, physical, relational and emotional toll pain can take on a person. If you EVER want or need to talk, know that I am here for you and I love you! You are going to do amazing things! Keep your eyes on that pink gavel cake. 😉
So incredibly proud of you!! 🙂
You have already helped many people without benefit of a law degree. You have made your home an attainable beautiful place. I’m working on convincing my daughter-in-law how nice it would be to have a big “barn house” and actually have money left over to furnish it! On another note, I have suffered with depression and anxiety most of my life, but I know there will always be good days, not all bad.
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