freeSpeech: Annette Ross


Seven years ago I suffered a spinal cord injury while giving birth to our second child. That night, my life changed forever. I was confined to a wheelchair, but I was still a wife and a mother.

While I was devastated to learn that I might not walk again, I was more frightened by the possibility that I would become a person reduced to the physical facts of my disability. I needed help to remember that I could be whole despite my broken body, especially in a society that so values independence and self-reliance.

Once, as I struggled to host a birthday party in our home, I heard a guest whisper to her child that my daughters needed "two mommies." In her eyes, I was inadequate. But I also have friends who built ramps so I can visit anytime. Their accommodation means everything to me.

Whether I walk again or not, I know that I am complete, I always was, but I did not come to this realization on my own.

My new found "dependence" helped me realize how vulnerable and interdependent we all are. It was the strength of those around me that carried me through and literally pieced me back together, I just held on.

My journey to wholeness began with the love of my husband, Bill, and grew to encompass my doctors, therapists, friends, family and even strangers. Were it not for them, I am certain I would not have kept my faith, found the courage to live, work at my therapy, and have two more beautiful children. Today I recognize my ability to give this strength to others. We need one another to become truly whole.

A mother of four, Annette Ross' spine was damaged during the birth of her second child. At the time of her injury, she about to begin studying for a Ph.D at the Yale Divinity School. She has most recently been a visiting scholar at the Hastings Center, which studies the ethical and social issues of medicine and medical science.