Mind and Body

An open letter to Boston Marathon bombing victim Rebekah DiMartino

Gracie Rosenberger

Gracie Rosenberger  (Courtesy Standing With Hope)

Dear Rebekah,

I know from news reports that you had surgery to remove your leg on Monday. Relinquishing a leg is a brutal decision, and I would offer my encouragement and support to you as one who has traveled down this road—twice.

Whereas your injuries were the result of a malicious act, mine resulted from a 1983 car accident. I spent years trying to save my legs, but eventually made the hard call to relinquish my right leg in 1991 and my left in 1995. 

When I pulled the sheets back and looked at what was left of my body, I despaired. That very afternoon, however, after walking on two prosthetic limbs in the hospital, I lay in my hospital bed and happened to catch a documentary about Princess Diana and the work she did with landmine victims in Asia. Seeing so many people whom I now resembled, I knew in my heart that I would follow Princess Diana’s lead and work to put limbs on my fellow amputees.

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For ten years, I’ve done just that through our work in West Africa. Founding Standing With Hope was a personal milestone. 

As an amputee, I’ve had quite a few milestones. I’ve raised two amazing sons, learned to snow-ski, and performed for audiences across the country, including two U.S. presidents.

My journey hasn’t been easy, nor will yours be. I bear the consequences in my body of spending too many surgeries trying to save what simply could not be saved.

Along the way, I’ve had my share of mishaps and made many mistakes. The decisions to let go of my legs, however, were not mistakes. For twelve years following my accident, my damaged legs directed the course of my life. Ironically, their absence would do the same.

Rebekah, you are beautiful woman, and as you take charge of your life and walk with a prosthesis, you will demonstrate even more beauty. I am confident that you will accomplish extraordinary things and find a life full of meaning, purpose, and healing.

I believe I have the credibility to offer those words to you, and you are in my thoughts and prayers as you travel down this difficult road. I look forward to meeting you one day where we can compare legs!

I close with words that have sustained me -- and billions of others: “…Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou at with me.” -- Psalm 23

With prayers and love,

Gracie 

Gracie Rosenberger is founder of  Standing With Hope, an organization that provides prosthetic limbs to those in need in West Africa. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee. 

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