It seems like I have been trying forever to write my story. I wanted to share what happened to me in a way that reflects the positive and powerful effects that a faith-filled life has had on me since the accident. I also wanted to give you, the reader, a message of hope, of the power of forgiveness, and the absolute miracle of my survival, so that you can take what has happened and personalize it with your own life's challenges.

We go about as we do, living out our individual dreams and not aware that we can be taken from our lives in the blink of an eye. That is what happened to me on April 2, 2007. We had just parked our car, and were getting ready to join dear friends for a joyous Passover celebration when a drunken stranger forever altered our lives, and the lives of every Jew in our small community.

I do not remember being hit; only waking up in pain He hit me, and Annette Brodovsky- at nearly seventy miles an hour. She died almost instantly, in a gutter, after being thrown nearly fifty feet. She had been waiting for me a few feet away as I was taking my baby out of his car seat. I was filled with joy because I had seen the swell of her belly- babies are a source of great joy to us, and this was especially good news. I wanted to hug her and let her know how excited I was because I had not seen her for a long time. The last picture I have in my mind of Annette was of her smiling at me, waving, and then waiting by a tree. It is a happy picture, thank G‑d.

After that, my memory is a blur. I do not remember being hit; only waking up knowing something awful had happened to me. I felt like I was floating, I was on the ground, looking up at the car, and wondering how I had gotten there. And then the pain, and the choice I had to make; to live or die. I knew I had that choice when I saw my husband's face above me, and I suddenly decided that he needed me, that our baby, Yossi, needed me. I feared the worst- had my baby died? I didn't remember if I had gotten him out of his seat. The pain was unbelievable. I was going into shock, but I had to know if Yossi was alive, and he was, because I could hear him crying. A woman came to hold my hand and reassure me; she took the baby out of his car seat and gave him to an EMT to be checked. He was unhurt, miraculously. He had been in his car seat, missed by inches when the drunk driver tore the doors off the car and smashed its back end. We had survived, Yossi and me: two Passover miracles.

The days and months to follow were filled with pain and with physical challenges that were unending. Excruciatingly painful scans, tests and procedures, to assess the damage and its aftermath, filled my days. I often cried for hours, my only relief coming in the form of very potent narcotics that only temporarily relieved my suffering. Throughout these times I prayed constantly, and felt G‑d's presence giving me the strength not to give in, especially when I found out that I was not paralyzed or head injured. I had made the determination that I was going to walk again, no matter what it took me to get there.

I made Annette a promise: to live my life to the fullest On a tear-filled night, after an especially painful surgery, I made Annette a promise: to live my life to the fullest, and never forget her; to take her memory, to take her with me as I dove back into my life. I have not forgotten that promise. It has been nearly two years since that fateful night. My family is still suffering the aftermath. I have not been able to work because of the pain and my physical weakness. Every day has moments of deep sorrow, but there is also tremendous joy- especially because of my baby, who is two now. He is a happy, healthy little boy.

I know that this accident was a terrible blow to everyone who was involved, but I also believe that it was part of G‑d's plan for me. I had two choices to make once I faced my future. I could choose to be bitter and resigned to living a life scarred by hatred of the man who had torn our lives to pieces, a life contracted and full of darkness. Or I could make the choice to live abundantly from where I was: to be co-creator with my Creator in a life that embraced the experience with its days of sorrow, and days full of joy and possibility.

Annette Brodovsky a"h
Annette Brodovsky a"h
My body bears the marks of my injuries, and I have pain that never goes away. It is what I do with that pain and those scars that make me stronger. They are a reminder to me that I cannot draw a single breath without the grace of G‑d- that it is He who is in control, it is He who created me and animates my being- and being broken and rebuilt is only part of the picture. He has given me the chance to experience what it is to be radically and totally alive, to feel it to the point of exquisite pain and blinding joy all at the same time. I have gone on with my life as I promised Annette: I am attending night school to become a medical administrator, and I relish the chance I have to be a useful member of society again, to use my brain and my intelligence, and my humanity, to make my corner of the world a better place.

As a small child, I was given the gift of a deep belief in G‑d. I always believed that there was a Creator who loved me and looked out for me, and shed a brilliant light all around me, a light only I could see. I know now that is the light that all Jews possess, the light of our neshama, our soul. This light has tremendous power. The importance of kindling the Shabbat lights gained even more importance to me once I was able to do so again after the accident.

We must never let the light go out. Each one of us is responsible for each other; it is not just one doing for the whole. It will take all of us to bring Moshiach-each little candle uniting into a blaze of fire that circles and engulfs the whole universe, until finally the darkness is banished forever.

As we are now in the month of Adar, the month of increased joy, may our lives be filled with that joy, and may we remember those whose lives were taken, with love and blessings to their families who remain to carry on their memories.

It is my hope that people will be inspired by my survival to illuminate the darkness in their own lives- to look beyond the darkness into the deep and abiding light that is G‑d, and gain inspiration to reach beyond any obstacles that are placed in their paths.