Jackie, 57, Madison, Wisconsin
I was the mother of two sons, whom I loved unconditionally. I was a convention coordinator. I was an amateur photographer. On November 4, 1995, at 4:40 p.m., it all changed.
I was at a friend's house when two boys—ages 15 and 16—had been attempting to steal my car. I walked in on them. They drew their guns on me. They told me to lie on the living room floor, where they shot me in the head and left me for dead!
My friend came back to the house 15 minutes later from trimming trees to find me. He called 911. They sent out an ambulance that took me to Reedsburg Hospital. They did a CAT scan where they learned I had been shot in my head execution-style.
I was flown by MedFlight to the University of Wisconsin Trauma Center. I had 28 lines or IVs in me, two shunts, I was on a breathing machine. I was put in a drug-induced coma. My doctors then went out to talk to my two sons, Chad and Derek, to tell them I only had a 2 percent chance of making it.
After 42 days in a coma, I woke up to the toughest rehab schedule. I had to learn how to sit, stand, walk, talk, swallow, use my left hand, how to eat, how to get dressed, even how to go to the bathroom again. I was in the hospital for three months, and I spent nine months in a brain rehab center.
I met Craig, the boy who shot me, on December 17, 1997. I sat down, and he cried because he thought I would be 100 percent normal. I had no idea who had shot me. He told me right away that he had shot me. It was like my son had told me, and all I could do was hang my head in sorrow. He had apologized to me, I accepted his apology. There was one thing I wanted from him—a hug. Like what a mother and son do is hug. He agreed to hug me. We hugged long and hard, and from that moment on we had a bond, an unspoken bond!
We see each other once a year, we write to each other whenever we want. The first thing he does when he sees me is he hugs me. The last thing he does, he hugs me. It is his way of saying he is sorry and that he loves me. I love Craig. God says we are to love our fellow human being. I don't like what he has done. That is my right, but I love him! I went full circle. I think my forgiveness was right away, but it went full circle the day I met him! I talk to audiences, and I have a letter that Craig wrote to them. It says that he is the young man who shot me, and he lives with it every day. It tells them that they will fall down, but that they will get up. I will always remember that he wished he could take back the bullet the second he fired the gun. But we have an unspoken bond!