Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meeting an Inspiration

While thinking of things I'd like to do on my visit to Utah, I mentioned hiking the Y. In Provo, just east of the BYU campus is a gigantic Y on the side of the mountain. It's kind of an initiation to hike the Y and I think I did it twice during my years at BYU. I thought it would be nostalgic to do it and so we made the plan. When I got to Utah, Cara told me that Stephanie Nielsen would be hiking it on Saturday to commemorate one year since the crash. For those of you who don't know her story, she and her husband were in a small plane that crashed last year in Arizona, which killed the pilot and burned her husband on 30% of his body and her on 80% of her body. It was a miracle she survived. They had four kids at home and after 6 months in a coma she woke up and was moved back to Provo, where she used to live and her family was there to help. Apparently she used to run the Y every day which is a feat in and of itself, it is very steep and about a mile straight up. She wanted to hike it on the anniversary and I would not have missed it.

I have been following Stephanie's story since shortly after the crash and have found myself captivated by the courage of this young woman as she has fought for her life. I check her blog daily, the Nienie dialogues- the blog that she was famous for even prior to the crash for her honesty about motherhood and being a wife. Looking back into the archives I have caught myself wanting to be more like her, she is such a patient and innovative mother and such a romantic wife and now she is so much more. She is an inspiration and a hero, from her I have learned how to keep pressing forward even when it seems impossible. She will do great things in their life and I am honored to know her through her blog.

Stephanie was scheduled to start her hike at 7, and Cara and I decided to get an early start and began our hike at 5. We reached the top about an hour later and sat on the breezy mountainside admiring the view and picking out different buildings from our past. We saw the caravan arrive. Many people had come out to support her. A crowd gathered and once we saw it disperse, we started our descent. We kept talking about what we would say to her when we saw her and what could we do for her? We came up with the idea to write her name in rocks periodically down the trail to give her encouragement, so we put about 7 or 8 "Nie's" on the path until the crowd caught up to us. And then we saw Stephanie approaching. There was an ATV in front of her driven by her father with a photographer on the back and then she and her husband along with her kids Jane, Claire and Oliver and other friends and family. Cara and I stood on the side of the path cheering and clapping and she stopped walking for a moment to give us each a hug and say thank you. What a moment! It was so amazing and strange to meet someone I felt like I knew so well, but she had no idea who I was or what she means to me. We all cried and then we told her that she could make it and went on our way. I will never forget that experience and you know what? She made it up that mountain by herself. The greater mountains lie ahead of her but I have no doubt that she will climb them all.




6 comments:

just jen said...

reading this made me cry...when i read your other post i wondered if you had climbed it with stephanie...what a wonderful experience!

Heather said...

THat is so cool. I was just reading her latest post and thought "how neat" the NIE rocks were...and you were responsible...So glad you could go...

The Loveridge Family said...

What an amazing experience! I read Nie's blog first and saw the "Nie" rocks, then I read yours and saw that you did it...what a perfect idea!!! I don't think there is a blogger out there that hasn't heard of Nie and what an amazing inspiration she is.

Mandi said...

I got all teary too! What a good idea to put her name along the way...that is such a neat story! Glad you had fun!

Monica said...

That's awesome!!! what a cool thing to do for her! ..and it looks like you had tons of fun on your trip!

Russell, Crystal, Tanner and Jason said...

That was such a neat and thoughtful idea. I love the NieNie blog. I'm so glad you had such an awesome time in Utah with Cara. You are two of the nicest people I have ever met. Cara looks great. You both are way too thin and gorgeous to have had 3 kids. Happy 30th!