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How a Latter-day Saint Mom Overcame Blindness, 3 Amputations and Found Her Faith in God


Living Life Fully

It’s been nine years since Carol lost her sight, her feet, her hand, and the life she once knew. Nine years of physical therapy, prosthetics, canes, and relearning to feed herself, walk, and live again—step by agonizing step.

Looking at Carol’s life today, few could imagine the limits that once restricted her. Her journey “has been awesome and inspiring,” Scott recognizes. “She does things I could never do.”

Playtime with her daughters

Carol playing with her daughters

Despite her indomitable attitude, Carol didn’t understand what she was capable of until the Deckers’s nanny and nurse, Erin, told Carol she was going to help her make cookies with her little girls. “You have this idea and these dreams of what you are going to do with your kids when you are a mom,” Carol says. “For me, making cookies was one of those things.”

Though she didn’t know how she would be able to roll out the cookie dough with only one hand—a hand severely limited by nerve damage—Carol remembers hearing Safiya banging happily on the table next to her and Chloe giggling.

“All of a sudden, Chloe takes her finger and is touching my nose and my face with flour on it,” Carol remembers. “It was just this magical moment. . . . I felt her little, tiny finger, and it was like a window opened, and the possibilities came streaming into my mind—I could do things with my kids. It didn’t matter that I didn’t make the dough. It didn’t matter that I didn’t put the cookies in the oven. We were together, and it was about the experience. That’s kind of what it’s like in this life. Sometimes we think so many things are so important or that we can’t live without [this or] that, but it is about the experience and what we make of it.”

Carol and her daughters, Chloe and Safiya

Carol and her daughters, Chloe and Safiya

Embracing that new flood of possibilities, Carol “gave everything that [she] had” to rebuilding her life, learning to put on her own makeup, walk in high heels, jump on the trampoline with her girls, do her hair, and care for her daughters.

“I didn’t want to miss out on anything with my kids,” Carol says.

“Carol was this strong, determined, fearless, selfless, beautiful, funny, genuine person before her incident, as she is now after it,” Thurston says. “She has not allowed this tragedy to define her but, in turn, is defining it by being who she is in spite of it. And she has not just endured it. She is conquering it. She makes everyone around her feel her joy of life.”

Always one to set audacious goals instead of limits for herself, Carol remembers the year Safiya turned 5. It was the year she promised her family they would all go snowboarding and skiing together—a hobby she has loved since she was 12 years old. With the help of a nonprofit organization called Outdoors for All, Carol tried her first sit-ski in 2013. Slightly offended that the volunteers had her test her abilities on the bunny hill, the true adventure began when the volunteers tried to help her onto the chairlift. The men lifted the sit-ski so high the lift hit the bottom of her skis, flipping her onto the top of her head. “I just started laughing because that is what I do in those situations,” Carol says. When the volunteers grew awkwardly quiet after their mishap, Carol assured them, “Okay guys, the worst thing that could have happened just happened back there, so I am glad we got that over with.”

Carol hitting the slopes on her sit-ski

Carol hitting the slopes on her sit-ski

On Valentine’s Day 2014, Carol carved down the mountainside in her sit-ski, her little girls and Scott zipping by. “There was fresh snow, and it was just magical to me to hear my little girls ski by and go, ‘Hi, mommy,’” Carol recalls. Near the end of the day, after a wipeout sent Carol tumbling into the snow, she remembers breathing that moment in, hoping it would never end.

“It was just that moment of ‘I did it. I survived. I am on this mountain skiing with my family,’” she says. “Because that is what life is like. Sometimes you feel like you are held under the water, and sometimes you are up and riding the waves.”

Living Life Beautifully

In 2014, while at a fundraiser honoring her achievements, Carol reconnected with the doctor who originally diagnosed her with sepsis—a man who had last seen her clinging to life in the ICU.

While speaking with Dr. Solomon and his wife, Carol learned of the days he spent agonizing over her care, worrying what would become of her or whether she would survive. And here she was, just six years later, her life full of adventure, vivid sensations, boundless gratitude, love, and hope.

Carol and Scott with their daughters, Chloe and Safiya

Carol and Scott with their daughters, Chloe and Safiya

“When I went to church the next day, I just couldn’t help but think of the way I felt thanking that doctor. I kept kissing him on the cheek and thanking him, and tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t help but think what it was going to be like someday meeting the Savior, Jesus Christ, and to thank Him for everything He has done for us. I really didn’t know that He knew me personally until now,” Carol says. “There is no way I could get to this place without all the people in my life and especially without God seeing what I could do.”


Unshattered

Learn more about Carol Decker’s incredible story in her new book, Unshattered: Overcoming Tragedy and Choosing a Beautiful Life. More than a story of triumph over tragedy, the book offers inspiring life-lessons and insights which can help readers to do more than endure unimaginable pain and darkness in their own lives. This book can give them the perspective and strength to pick up the pieces of their own tragedies and choose a life of healing, purpose, and joy—a beautiful life.

Available at Deseret Book stores and at deseretbook.com.


LDS Living MagazineRead more inspiring stories in our print magazine, available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.

Photos courtesy of the Decker Family
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