Nobody told Sara what she could and couldn’t do. Because she’d prove them wrong when they did. She’d been doing that since birth.
Sara came out of the womb with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. It wrecked the development of her heart and brain. Doctors said she might not make it. She did.
From the beginning, Sara’s parents were honest with her.
“We didn’t want her unprepared for complications that might be coming,” says her mother. “We were honest with her. Sara deserved to know how lucky we were to have her.”
Sara’s young friends would say things like, “What do you want for Christmas?”
“I want to keep living,” she’d say cheerfully.
By the time Sara was five, teachers noted how slow she was compared to her classmates. She was no less intelligent, mind you, but things took her twice as long.
“We tried to deemphasize school,” her mother says. “I mean, we didn’t see the point stressing when nobody knew how long she had.”
But Sara felt differently.
By age twelve, Sara was rock-solid determination, wrapped in pigtails. Once, at a youth camp, kids participated in a tight-rope walking game. The camp counselors requested Sara sit it out.
Sara requested everyone back off.
Counselors tried to force her to wear a helmet. But since none of the other kids wore such things, Sara wouldn’t either. It took her twenty minutes, two falls, and a busted lip. But she made it across, by God.
“I’ve never seen such a fighter,” her mother says. “I don’t know where she got it. It wasn’t from me.”
Age eighteen—Sara applied to several major universities like her friends had. One by one, each rejected her. It was a blow. But not enough to make her surrender. She applied to a small local college. She got in.
“You would’ve thought she’d been accepted into Harvard,” her mother says.
Sara graduated. Though it took her seven years to complete what others finish in four.
To celebrate, her parents took her on a trip. They went to Disney World, RV camped, ate hotdogs over campfires, took photos with Mickey Mouse.
Three months later, Sara woke with a fever. Her father took her to the hospital. Her heart gave out.
At her funeral, Sara’s mother read an email her daughter had sent to friends and family after graduation.
“I just want to thank my mom and dad, they are amazing, and my friends, and my teachers, and everyone else who helped me graduate. I just hope, one day I can be encouraging to you, like everybody was to me.”