In the year since the Boston Marathon bombing, Anderson Cooper has come to know Adrianne Haslet-Davis and her family. Here he shares his thoughts on her courageous journey. You can watch “CNN Special Report: The Survivor Diaries” this Tuesday, April 8th at 10pm ET on CNN.
Adrianne Haslet-Davis was sitting up in her hospital bed, a bandage wrapped over what remained of her left leg. That was how I first met her. It was just a few days after the Boston Marathon. Just a few days after the bombings that killed three people and left more than 200 others wounded. Just a few days, but Adrianne already knew nothing would ever be quite the same.
One second she was standing with her husband, Adam, tired after having watched the marathon longer than she'd planned, the next second she was crawling along the sidewalk screaming in pain.
That is how one's life changes. A split second. A shard of time that normally goes unnoticed, uncounted.
Adrianne's husband was also wounded in the bombing. They both agreed to be interviewed about what had happened and he was by her side when I pulled up a chair and we began to talk. We've been talking ever since.
To say Adrianne was inspiring in those dark, difficult days is an understatement. Her left leg was gone below the knee. She would need a prosthetic limb. But Adrianne wasn't just facing the difficulty of learning to walk again. Adrianne was a dance instructor. Dancing is what gave her a sense of freedom; it's what gave her joy. In that first conversation in her hospital room, Adrianne told me that she was determined to dance again.
None of us in that room knew then exactly what that would entail. Not just the hard work, the hundreds of hours of rehabilitation and physical therapy, but the technology required for Adrianne to dance. Most prosthetic legs are designed for repetitive motion – walking, running – but dancing requires a whole range of stresses on the foot. To dance again Adrianne would need a prosthetic leg designed just for dancing.
Often in the news business, we don’t revisit people we've met. After that first interview with Adrianne, I knew I wanted to continue visiting with her to get a real sense of her road to recovery. Adrianne didn't want to sugarcoat what she was going through and she agreed to film regular video diaries which provide us an intimate look at some of the most important moments for her this past year. She has courageously been willing to let us all see, not just her moments of triumph, but also her nights of terror - her heartbreak as well as her happiness.
That's what "The Survivor Diaries" is all about. It is Adrianne's story, the reality of what this past year has been like for her and her family.
If terrorism is violence designed to send a message, to instill fear, then the terror attacks in Boston failed. The hatred and hostility that led to those bombs being detonated caused pain and shock, tears and agony, but they did not achieve their goal. The people of Boston pulled together, stood tall, and moved forward. A year after the bombings, Adrianne walks tall, and yes, dances with grace and poise. Her struggles continue, her journey has just begun. She is a survivor, and I hope her story inspires you as it has inspired all those who know her.
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