Well, last time I talked about how I managed college as a person with Cerebral Palsy. Today I want to talk about friendships at college. Some of you are saying that is dumb. It might be dumb but friendships kept me in college. Without friends, I don’t know how I would have survived.
Steve my Hero
I want to start off with talking about my friend Steve. Now Steve and I met a few weeks before I graduated from high school. I had an aide who helped me with homework. I was having trouble in trigonometry, and Sue said that she had a friend who was good in math. She asked if I wanted to meet him and I said sure. He came over and helped me to prepare for my final. We hit it off really well and after I was done with school, we hung out during the summer.
I had a friend, but the best thing was that he was attending U of I too, and he was a senior. How amazing! He told me that he could help me with homework and might have a few friends who could help me. Some people say they would help and never keep their promises, but not Steve. He helped me so much. Two of his friends helped me and were truly friends.
I think that Steve was put on this earth for a reason and that was me. First few months I was overwhelmed with college. All I wanted was to sleep. By November, I was turning my life around and liked college more.
Now Thanksgiving was coming so Sue called me to see if I wanted a ride home. I said I would let her know within a few days. She was at Illinois State University and was picking Steve up. I had a strange feeling for some reason. I talked to my mom and dad and they said that they would pick me up. So, I called Sue called and said I had a ride.
The time off from college was nice. Sunday came. Time to head back to college, but I wanted to call Steve to see what time when he would help me on Monday. So, my mom called Steve’s house. Back in those days, there were no cell phones. His grandma answered and my mom asked for Steve. All she heard was he was dead. My mom was struck by this statement. She thought that she dialed the wrong number.
Death of a Special Friend
Steve’s mom got on the phone and told my mom what happened on Wednesday. Sue and Steve were in an accident and Steve did not make it and Sue was in the hospital. That day was snowing pretty hard and the road was icy. A car ran into the side where Steve was and he died on the way to the hospital in a helicopter. The wake would be that day and the funeral would be on Monday. So we went to the wake before heading back to college.
Steve’s mom was really sad because Steve had died. I think that his mom thought that Steve had a brighter future than me. I sometimes think it might be true. We do not know for sure.
Time to Move Forward
We had three weeks until finals. It is last two minutes of a basketball game and we are down by six. I could rise up to the occasion and help my team to win or I could let the team lose. I picked the first one so I took my notes out and started to study on my own. One guy, Jim, helped me whenever he could, but the other guy had to take some time off from college because Steve and he grew up together. He had to cope with the loss of his best friend.
Friends and More Friends
Finals came and I passed my classes. The second semester came and one guy who took notes for me during the first semester was in another class with me. We started to hang out more. That really gave me the confidence that I would succeed in college.
One of my friends at the dorm was Nadia. We both started college at the same time and she had Cerebral Palsy also. We had the same struggles so I felt if she could make it then I would too. Besides that, I had a crush on her.
Around February, I heard about a retreat at church. I was dying to go to something like this for awhile. I asked Jim and his girlfriend if they wanted to go too. They said sure and we signed up.
The morning of the retreat Jim came to my dorm looking as he had been in a war. He had a huge experiment for a class and the data was all wrong. His report was due on Monday morning and he could not go to the retreat. I was sad and called my mom and told her what happened. She knew how much I was really disappointed.
I went to all of my classes and got a few things from the store. When I got back to my room, the answering machine was actually blowing up with calls from Jim. He was getting mad with each call. So I naturally called him back. A guy on the retreat team worked with people with Cerebral Palsy and could help me on the retreat. Paula, Jim’s girlfriend, could still go and would I want to still go. I said of course. He came and took me the church.
What an amazing weekend I had! It is truly amazing how God works. I made a lot of friends who truly loved me for who I am. For the next three years, I had friends who helped me out with homework and treated me as a friend. They looked beyond my Cerebral Palsy and saw me for who I am.
Best Vacation Ever
During my Junior year, I went to Florida with a bunch of friends. I think that trip was the best vacation ever. The group accepted me and some o they learned how to help me and after the trip, they wanted to help me back at college.
I don’t mean that you have to go to college to make awesome friends. I mean you have to take the risk to get friends. If college is not for you, join a club nearby and help out. If you get off of your comfort zone, you will see fruits of your help. Trust me it does work.
Looking back on college, the four years were the best four years of my life. At that time, I didn’t feel this way because it was a lot of hard work but I made it through. You can make it through the hard times with faith in yourself and friends cheering you on.