In 1982,I was a confused nineteen year old with a large chip on her shoulder. When I gathered friends to explore Little Grand Canyon for the day, I never considered how my actions would effect others. As I slid from the cliff’s edge, collided with a boulder, and became paralyzed, my friends were seriously impacted. In fact, our lives became intertwined.

Excerpts from Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life ~ by Nancy M. Turcich

~ Over the years, a few people shared their memories with me. Davey easily shared his perceptions of the fall. He recalled my search for something to grab as I descended the cliff: “Once you started to slide I looked up and locked onto your eyes. They were desperately scanning the terrain but there was nothing for you to grab hold of. Then the edge of the cliff swallowed you up and you disappeared into the trees and shrubs.” Davey’s candor settled my feelings of helplessness. I was relieved to have someone witness my attempt to save myself.

~ Dawn, my friend and roommate, couldn’t talk about my fall for many years. She said, “It was the worst thing I ever witnessed… what more is there to say?” I continued to probe for answers for myself and hopefully, to bring her peace. I’m not sure the latter will ever happen, but Dawn eventually shared a few important tidbits. As they watched me fall, everyone reacted individually. The guys all scattered, but Dawn froze. “My insides were shaking and I was unable to do anything.” Dawn and Dee Dee remained in a cave-like amphitheater on the canyon floor until they were stable enough to move, to climb. Then they managed to scurry through the rough terrain to get to me. Me and my punk attitude.

Teary eyed, Dawn spoke of hearing a scream and then watching me fall. She said, “There was definitely a scream, then the sound of falling rocks—gives me the chills to think about it.” She defines the event as an image and sounds that she will take to her grave. Something core deep but difficult to describe. Dawn felt the group responded with an overall sense of denial. They told themselves that I would be okay, that my injuries were bad but nothing to warrant my imminent demise.

~ Decades later, my friend Christine enlightened me, filling me in on a hidden past.

“Oh yeah, I was there. I remember you falling and when I reached you, I saw your eyes were open. That’s my last memory of that day—your open eyes staring up at me.”

“Nancy, I don’t remember the days around that time. I guess I blacked it all out.”

~ Guilt nearly smothered Michael—he thought he should have stopped me. “After you slid in front of me, I rose from bent knees to stand.” Though he stretched his near six-foot frame to locate me, I vanished from his sight. “At that point, I decided not to follow you. Instead, I climbed back up the cliff and went down the way we originally ascended.” Once Michael reached my side, he assessed the situation. Helpless, angry, and fearful, Michael ran until he was out of earshot. Then he screamed and cursed at the top of his lungs. I’m sure the trees shook from his emotion. “After I gathered myself, I rejoined the group.” Michael and the others formed my rescue squad.

That day in 1982 remains etched in all of our bodies, minds, and, perhaps, souls. However, each of us holds on to different aspects, different feelings, and different ghosts.

Be well… Nancy T

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