What happens when a gesture of goodwill ends up rebounding to the person who needs it most? A sister whose quiet night in took a turn for the tragic can speak from experience.
Karlina Fulk was alarmed by the sound of an ambulance siren near her home one evening, and on a whim, she decided to check her local Neighborhood Watch website. There had been an accident, a bad one. Approximately 5 miles from Karlina’s home, an accident resulting in “major injuries” had been reported. The driver had to be airlifted from the scene by helicopter. This news was shocking, so Karlina sent a quiet prayer to the victim and their family before heading to bed.
She didn’t know it at the time, but Karlina had been praying for herself.
Had a great time with Karlina and the kids on the Freda B bay cruise last night. Now that break is over…back to work!
The telephone rang shortly after midnight. It was Karlina’s parents, and their news drained all strength from her body. It was the news that no relative ever wants to hear. There had been an accident, she knew that already, but the victim she had prayed for was not a stranger as she had presumed but her younger brother, Rafael. Desperate to be with her parents and by her brother’s side, Karlina rushed to the hospital’s emergency room.
“Nothing will prepare you for the crippling fear that consumes you when someone you love has been seriously hurt,” she later shared with Love What Matters. She described the fear as the kind that “literally brings you to your knees.”
"Just before 8 PM on January 7, 2015, my baby brother Rafaelhe texted his friend to say he was coming over. He never…
When the family arrived at Rafael’s bedside, the beloved son and brother was in a coma. Doctors were pessimistic, which broke the family’s hearts. If he did wake, the experts shared reluctantly, it was likely that Rafael wouldn’t regain his former faculties. But after only a week, the first of Rafael’s defiant acts against his prognosis shone through: he woke up.
Rafael’s stricken mom asked doctors about the likelihood of her son graduating from college. “He doesn’t know his name,” they replied, shattering her dreams. “He can’t even tell time. He will never go back to college.” However, it seemed that the doctors might have underestimated the power of the family’s faith and the young man’s determination.
Karlina posted a heart-wrenching list of the numerous treatments her brother endured while under the care of the hospital. He went through “24 hours in the ER,” she wrote, “8 days in the ICU, 7 days in the trauma ward, 21 days in the acute brain injury hospital ward, [and] 6 weeks inpatient at the post-acute rehab center.” Rafael was certainly proving the doctors wrong, but his fight wasn’t over just yet. After returning home, Rafael still had to spend seven months as an outpatient at the post-acute rehab center.
However, two and a half years later, something miraculous happened. “We sat together and watched as he walked across the stage, under the bright lights of the stadium,” Karlina shared. Rafael was collecting his diploma; the stoic young survivor, against all odds, graduated from California State University with a Bachelors Degree in Communications.
“From nearly losing him, to preparing ourselves for the worst, to finally watching him achieve this miracle,” Karlina wrote, “we’ve watched him come back to us. This is what we prayed for!” The loving, grateful sister claimed that every single ounce of pain was worth it; the family had been given a second chance. “But most of all, we’ve been given Rafael back,” Karlina shared.
Rafael continues to defy his medical prognosis, and his life is filled with renewed ambition. Just one week after graduation, according to So Share This, Rafael completed his first marathon. His supportive sister recalled a singular moment that defines Rafael’s amazing recovery; when doctors told him he may not have the strength to weather the storm, Rafael laughed.
“I am the storm,” he said.