My mother, Diane Johnson Barnett, wrote the poem that you read. She is the strongest person I know. As you get further into this book, you will begin to further understand that statement.
In order to completely understand and appreciate the words of this poem, you must know its inspiration. In order to know its inspiration, you as a reader, please allow me to take you on a trip. For this trip, you will not need an airplane ticket, train ticket, or automobile ticket. All you need for this trip is an imagination, open mind, and an open heart. I guess the best way for me to kick this story off is to begin at the beginning, and the beginning is the day I was born.
Saturday, February 16, 1980, 5:30 a.m., Saginaw General hospital located in Saginaw, Michigan. Let me just stop and say that I am the kind of person that believes that God writes our life stories before we are even born. Now let us run it back to the story.
When I was born, it was into a family of hard workers who were and still are full of love. I mean that they would have to be in order to deal with a character like me in a situation that was about to occur six short years later. (More of this later.) Trust me, it all will make sense as we go deeper.
Before I continue to tell this story, I hope everyone will be able to draw something. Allow me to formerly introduce myself. My name is Larry Barnett Jr. I am twenty-five years old and a student of Delta College. I am paralyzed from my neck down. I have been for the past nineteen, almost twenty, years. All the words you have read so far are about me. Yes, it is true I was born 2-16-80. My parents, Diane and Larry Barnett Sr., they had a perfectly normal child with the full ability to run, jump, flip, and fight. Yes, I said fight!
Some would call me bad. Some other people would call me active. Some would even say hyperactive. However, I prefer to call it “creative.” I told you earlier that my mom is the strongest person I know. Here why I say what I say. My mother told me before she was pregnant with me how she would pray to God and ask him to give her a child she could love. Believe me, she has enough love to fill ten football fields. The reason why I make this statement is that no matter what I have dealt with in my life, she always had my back. Even when I felt everything around me was falling apart, she was always there when the dust settled. Back to my childhood, the first six years of my life was perfectly normal.
I was able to take family vacations to places like Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. I must admit that I was still able to do some traveling after my life changed. I went to places like Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio. I was able to go to wrestle Mania IV in Indiana. However, none of these above trips would compare to the involuntary trip that I would take last June 19, 1986.
Thursday, June 19, 1986, the day in my life that I know I’ll never forget because this is the day that I will be forced to leave everything that I know and love. God knows how long, but my life after actually began to take a frightening turn. Two months and nine days before this. From the day that I was born in 1980 until Friday, April 25, 1986, I had a normal childhood. On this day, everything for me almost ended. By this time, I was over half of my kindergarten years in school. I was attending a school called St. Stephens. Just for the record, I dislike everything about this particular school, mainly those stupid blue uniforms that had to be worn daily. Nevertheless, I am getting too far up the track. By this time in my life, my mother and I had a pretty good routine. In fact, it went like this: I would attend school from noon until 3:30 p.m. After school, my mom would pick me up and take me to my Aunt Gloria Jean and Aunt Azailean’s house until it was time for her to get home from work.
However, this day, we would have to break from our routine. My mother told me that the whole week that she had this feeling, something was about to happen. She just didn’t know what it was, so on this day, instead of going to my aunt’s house, my mom picked me up and took me to work with her. This was not unusual because she would do this from time to time. My mom was a cosmetologist at this time. She worked a salon in the city. I enjoyed going to work with her from time to time. The clients all knew me, and I knew some of them as well. This was my prime opportunity to mess with Nikki Braggs (this was the owner’s daughter). She was a few years older than I was. However, that was the best part, so by this time, the day was going along pretty smooth. We even had an opportunity to leave the salon and walk down the street to get something to eat. The time after that is when things began to get little hazy. After, everything seems to have calm down. The next few hours would be the craziest of my life. It was between the hours of 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. and my godmother and sister twin babies (six month’s old). My mother and I went across the street to see the twins. My godmother’s sister was going to stay at the salon to get her hair done. My godmother was going somewhere with the twins; at this point, I still do not know the concerns that was going on inside my mother’s head. Therefore, I asked, “Could I go with my godmothers?” and my mom reluctantly said yes. Although I was only six years old, my mother had trained me well on how to cross the street. I know it probably sounds strange; but trust me, if you know my mother, you will know exactly what I mean.
Several people have different ways of describing my mother. Some say that she was overprotective, others say she is paranoid, but I choose to say that she is extra cautious when it comes to the safety of everyone.
Therefore, here we are, my mother, my godmother, and her sister and the twins. We are all standing across the street from the salon. My mother had just agreed that I could go with my godmother. Before I left, she wanted me to go back into the salon and get my cousin Charles so he could see the twins. She gave me specific instructions, and the way my personality is, I only listened to half of what she said. Her instructions went like this, “Larry run across the street, go into the salon, get Charles, and come back across the street with him. Just so you will know, we were on a very busy street. So here is what I did, I checked to my left and then to my right. I even had time to do it a second time. Then I jet across the street, ran into the salon, and told my cousin to come out. I was so fast that before he could leave his seat, I was already out the front door; the next moment, it felt like time had frozen. There was a car parallel parked directly in front of the salon. I could not see over the car. I was so little that the other drivers could not see me. So I jetted out into the street. That is when it happened. A car hit me. At this point, my mother tells me that her back was turned toward the street, but my godmother was looking and watching all this unfold. I cannot tell you about all that happened next. However, I do know to this day that God had his hand on my life. My mother and godmother tell me that when the car hit me, it looked like my body should have rolled underneath the car. Instead, it was as if someone was pulling me away from this car. I know that it was nobody, but God who spared my life. At this point, my mother was not even allowed to touch my motionless body. I lay in the hospital in a coma for the next five days. My mother tells me that doing this time, doctor and specialist would have run all kind of test. Because see, in this accident a level c1, c2 spinal cord injury along with a bruised heart, and along with a collapsed lung, the doctors would tell my parents doing this time that I would die. Or even if I lived, I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life and in a vegetative state. However, immediately, my mom went into a prayer mode. The same child that she prayed for over six years earlier, know she was praying to God, asking she keep her child. Because this crap just was not supposed to happen or was it. The next thing I remember was waking up, asking to go outside to play.
That is when they broke the news. That is when I cried. I mean, I was six, and what else was I supposed to do? People looked at me crazy when I say this although I was born Saturday, February 16, 1980, and my life almost ended on Friday, April 25, 1986. My life really began when I came out of the coma. My mother always taught me that you never start a fight with anyone, but if someone is in your face, get him or her out of your face. That was exactly what was going on. I was thrown into a fight that I did not choose.