Longform

Permanent Recess

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Greenfield's concerns seemed to resonate with the parents in attendance. But one father, Cliff Myers, an occupational safety engineer, said he objected to a closed campus. "There are a lot of reasons why I'm against it. You've got 17-, 18- and 19-year-olds on this campus. I think it's unfair to expect them to stay on campus if they're adults and they want to go home."

Myers said that if a student is old enough to fight in Iraq, he or she should be able to go to Jack in the Box.

In the time it took for one car to crash into another, Bryan Anderson went from star athlete to quadriplegic.

In middle school, he was the number-one runner in Arizona, competing in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4-by-100 relay. Bryan dreamed of pursuing a career in college football and then going to the pros.

"I was just a very active person," Bryan says. "I never liked to sit in one spot, ever. I was always moving."

His hopes of playing football were shattered the instant his spinal cord was crushed. Within a week of the accident, Bryan's once-athletic form went from 160 pounds to 111 pounds. He couldn't brush his teeth, put on his clothes or get into his wheelchair by himself.

For 10 months, Bryan stayed in the hospital, enduring multiple surgeries and exhaustive rehabilitation. Finally, in October of 1996, he was ready to come home.

Even though hospital officials tried to prepare his family for what was about to happen, they had no idea how much their lives were about to change.

"When he came home, that's when all three of us realized how our lives had changed because no longer could he be alone," says his mother, Julie Anderson. "We all had our jobs to do to help him along. It was just so much more responsibility for each one of us. It was a lot of stress on the family and Bryan because he felt like, I'm this big burden to everybody.'"



Julie found herself taking care of Bryan 24 hours a day. He couldn't even scratch his nose or brush his teeth. "It was like taking care of an infant all over again, as well as trying to take care of the emotional end of it."

Bryan has had seven years to adjust to life as a quadriplegic.

"It's not easy, but it is possible to get through it," he says. "I'm still doing physical therapy, trying to get better. I just keep working and keep an open mind."

Bryan, like most other 22-year-olds, parties at the bars with his friends and enjoys watching movies. When he was 16, he got his first tattoo against his parents' wishes.



Not a day goes by that Bryan doesn't ask himself, "What if?"

"Those thoughts go by me at least two or three times a day. What if I didn't leave? What if I were driving? I even fought over the front seat with one of the guys in the car. We were yelling at each other at the gas station 'cause I called shotgun, but he was being a little baby, so I was just like, All right, you can have it,' and I sat in the back," he says.

He still struggles with depression. He still has trouble learning to accept his limitations.

"He used to party to where he couldn't see straight," Julie says. "Even now, he goes through peaks and valleys of depression. Now there's fewer and far between, but he still does. He still fights that I can't do this kind of stuff.' It's been very hard. It's the biggest test; it really is.

"I would never wish what we went through on anybody, even my worst enemy," she says. "It is a parent's worst nightmare. It's almost and maybe I have nothing to base this on but it's almost worse than losing your son because you know that once you've lost him, he's out of pain and now it's your responsibility to deal with it however you wish. But to see him struggle every day, that's heart-wrenching."

It's 11:12 a.m. the day before Thanksgiving, and the bell has just rung at Horizon High School, signaling the start of fifth-hour lunch. This is the time when many of the seniors leave school for the day, while others try to sneak off campus to grab lunch before facing afternoon classes.

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Tatum Ostaff