In 2005, I experienced two unique tragedies that altered my existence. On May
17, 2005, a beautiful sunny morning, my aunt and uncle, two of their grandchildren, my
mother and I were traveling from Atlanta, GA to Baton Rouge, LA after attending my
cousin’s graduation. Shortly after 12 noon, my uncle fell asleep at the wheel. Our van
hit a pothole causing us to flip several times before coming to rest on its right side.
My injuries were severe – fractured neck in two places, fractured right thumb,
abrasions and glass cuts on my right arm and on both hands and wrists. My mother
and my aunt’s injuries were ultimately fatal – sheared abdominal walls from the seat
belts they wore while seated in the middle of the van. My mother passed away on May
18, 2005. My aunt passed away on June 2, 2005.
It was three months before I could return to work as a result of my injuries. I had
some time to begin to attempt to deal with the trauma I experienced and start to grieve
the loss of my mother. However, within two weeks of returning to work in New Orleans,
LA, Hurricane Katrina struck the city on August 29, 2005. I evacuated and watched the
destruction on television from my family home in Baker, LA. The devastation numbed
me all over again. It was six weeks before authorities permitted anyone to re-enter New
Orleans to assess any damage. As each day passed that I was not able to return to my
home in New Orleans, my grief began to resurface.
I just wanted to forget that my 2005 ever happened to some degree. I refused to
share my experience with anyone unless forced to talk because I thought my suffering
was all about me. I actually tried to hide my scars. For weeks after the accident, I
pondered why God let me live. I realized that I survived the accident because I had not
yet fulfilled my purpose. I was born and I survived my accident to make manifest the
glory of God that is within me. I survived my accident to share my story of survival after
traumatic loss with the world and shine a light on the life and legacy of my wonderful
mother, Cherral Ann Jack Horton.
The last 13 years of my life have shown me that my story is the cure to someone
else’s cancer. I suffered a traumatic loss but nevertheless found my purpose to restore
hope and change life’s trajectory for others who hurt, one person at a time. In 2017, I
committed my life to helping survivors release their hurt and find purpose in the pain
after experiencing traumatic loss. An anonymous quote reads, “Forget what hurt you,
but never forget what it taught you.” My message to you is be the change you want to
see in the world despite your loss. Welcome your new journey every day with open