Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 13, 2011

Tragedy hits when lightning strikes

By Kelli Fox
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — "Rain, rain, go away, come again, another day" replays in my head to keep rainy days away because rainy days for me arrive full of gloom as well as sorrow.

Rain is wet with a cold touch to our skin within each and every drop that falls upon us. The cold reminds me of evil or even death. Death then reminds me of the loss of a close friend and even the death of a loved one.

So many times we take advantage of friendships we have, and it's not until something tragic happens that it makes us come to the realization that we need to care and treat our friends as if it were the last day we might ever see them. Before we know it, like lightning, in a simple flash they could be gone.

Rain reminds me of thunderstorms. Some people love thunderstorms (listening to the pounding of the raindrops hitting the ground, and watching the lightning strike and thunder crack, counting in between strikes, at how many miles away it may be). I hate thunderstorms. Every cold, wet raindrop reminds me of her; every striking lightning bolt reminds me of her.

You never really know what you have, until in a flash, it's gone.

Kate was definitely not your average girl. She was full of life, presenting an outstanding personality and was an all-around beautiful person.

All of my life, I had moved around; at every new school I started, nobody knew my name ever. I was always the "new girl" regardless.

As I recall, as soon as I started attending school in Indiana, Kate was one of the first to welcome me. We were both in the sixth grade, and I had just moved, not expecting to ever meet anyone as friendly as she was. For once I wasn't just the new girl, I was "bolted" to a group of great girls.

In the summer of 2006, everything zapped. I hadn't talked to Kate in a while, and before I even got home from camp, my parents broke the news. What was a normal day resulted in a tragedy.

Kate and her brother, Levi, were floating on their paddleboat when it happened. A storm rolled in, and the skies were turning gray, signaling the two to start heading for shore. Levi was quickly out of the boat as soon as they set foot on land, but before she knew it, Kate was lifelessly abroad the cold, wet ground.

A lightning bolt had struck her, traveling through the metal clasp of her bra into her chest, striking her in the heart. Levi, still in shock, rushed to call 911. Firemen and an ambulance arrived shortly after, giving Kate CPR, yet nothing occurred. However, one last try made all the difference, miraculously bringing her back to life.

Although she survived, Kate remains paralyzed. She has learned how to speak partially again. She has also relearned how to walk; her smile gleams more beautifully than ever.

I just always try to consider how lucky I am that Kate represents a walking miracle, and you never really know what you have until it's gone. It's sad that I had to learn the hard way through this experience that I should have written to her while I was away at camp when the accident happened, but I figured I'd see her as soon as I got home, not caring as I should have.

Even though she is not the same person, I'll always love Kate for who she was, and who she'll be in the future. This experience has taught me that you should live every day as if it was your last because similar to lightning, in a flash -- darkness.

Kelli Fox just finished her junior year at Bellaire High School.