In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Notre Dame Swim Team bus accident (referred to as simply, “the accident”), I am hoping to share 25 Things I Have Learned In 25 Years. The goal is to post once a week; but since I have a year to post, I will consider once every two weeks a win.

It never goes away.

I think I knew this in 1992. There were certainly many people who told me, “This will change your life forever,” or “Your life is forever changed.” And I am very aware of the day-to-day physical challenges I live with. But for some reason, the 25th anniversary marked a renewed understanding of the on-going presence the accident would have in my life forever. Forever. Forever is a long time when you are 18; it’s also (I hope) a long time when you are 43.

But it goes beyond the predictable ways in which it never goes away: I am aware of my back and its limitations; I subconsciously keep an eye on where I place my feet when I walk; I am cognizant of every bus I see and the buses my children ride on field trips; I feel the anguish of a family or a team in the news who has suffered a tragic loss. I expect those feelings and those events to spur my emotions. It is the unknown events in my future that remind me that it never goes away.

Over the past five years, between the 20th anniversary of the accident and the 25th anniversary of the accident, I have discovered “new ways” in which the events of January 24, 1992, will continue to affect my life. So much of it is positive, the gratitude I find in simple moments and the blessings I choose to see; but there are also new challenges as my body ages (don’t we all have these??); they come with the gift of getting older.

I think the main thing I have learned is that it’s okay for it to not go away. While we never want to dwell in the past, we also will never “get over it.” But it’s okay to still feel the hurt, because it allows us also to feel such deep joy and gratitude for the blessings we have found along the way.