Alexa finished her semester abroad in the hospital via remote connection. Despite her injuries, immobility and pain, she is determined to graduate UCLA in her respective double major a year early this summer.
Finding silver linings in the toughest challenges is often difficult, but the Gilbert family found plenty.
“I learned to appreciate how much my dad does for our family,” Eliza said. “I tried to help with some of his work, and it was really hard. And while he was in the hospital, I missed his humor around the house and just talking to him about whatever and him being so intelligent discussing any topic.”
The Gilberts never allowed the accident to shake their Catholic faith.
“I have always lived my life trying to be very grateful to God and to everyone else so I did not go through any phase where I was angry at God or asked, ‘why me,’ ” Mr. Gilbert said. “I was glad to be alive and, more importantly, I was glad that Alexa was okay.”
The Gilbert family is a tight-knit group whose obstacles only allowed for them to prove their virtue.
“I would say our bonds as a family were strengthened, but then again they were already very strong,” Alexa said. “Now me and Eliza are the two closest sisters in the world, and I just know you cannot separate our family.”
Optimism has defined the outlook of the Gilbert family through the recent months, and for Mr. Gilbert, even his reflections are optimistic.
“Overall this has been positive,” Mr. Gilbert said. “Even though I am in a lot of pain, this accident could have been much worse. Both my team of doctors and Alexa’s team of doctors used the word miracle, which medical professionals don’t use very much.”
The Gilbert family focused more on the details of their fortune during the accident than their misfortune of the accident occurring. Each family member also recognized the unconditional love shown from sibling to sibling or child to father.
“There are families who go through something like this where they hate each other and then they have a near death experience and love each other, and that is not what this situation was because we were already tight,” Mr. Gilbert said. “But what is amazing is the demonstration of the love that you always talk about and these situations really pull out of you and those around you.”