From a young age, Suzanne Sherk, business intelligence developer, Parkview Health, felt a strong desire to jump out of an airplane. On her 22nd birthday, she went skydiving for the first time–a thrill that’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t felt the rush of the leap and the calm of the breezy glide back down to the ground. She couldn’t have known then how the rhythm of anxiousness, resolve and, finally, peace that accompanies a jump would eventually mimic the major milestones of her adult life.
A moment of reckoning
Instant gratification was something Suzanne struggled with in her younger days, when she found herself deep in the grips of addiction. At that time, she didn’t believe she had the strength or the courage to get the help she needed. She was in over her head, until one event changed everything.
Early one morning, Suzanne was driving home when she crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision. The other driver was not hurt, but Suzanne suffered a ruptured bladder, collapsed lung, broken ribs, broken fingers, broken pelvis in five places and broken ankles. She spent 12 weeks at Parkview Hospital Randallia, where she received exceptional care and a fresh start.
“I woke up in the ICU and thought, ‘This is God’s not-so-subtle way of saying it’s time to come back to your faith,’” she recalled. Suzanne took her time in the hospital and rehabilitation to reconnect with God. She decided to leave the toxic circumstances that were fueling her addiction habits and never looked back. From that point forward, Suzanne’s life began to unfold in a different way. The stage was set for unexpected blessings.
Professional and personal bliss
Years later, Suzanne met a man with as many scars as she had, and instantly felt they were kindred spirits–souls who had been through their fair share of battles and come out on the other side. The couple married in 2012.
Suzanne had been working as a business intelligence developer for Parkview, providing analytics and reports to different departments to help leaders make business decisions. After working with Pharmacy for many years, she made the difficult decision to pursue a new opportunity on the Business Intelligence team. She had no idea this move would ultimately bring her greatest gift.
She developed a close relationship with a co-worker who joined the team around the same time as Suzanne. The pair went through training together and had desks right next to each other in their office. During their early days traveling and getting to know each other, Suzanne shared that her and her husband were having difficulty getting pregnant. A year later, that co-worker connected Suzanne and her husband to a expecting woman who had made the selfless decision to pursue adoption. Within the span of a whirlwind three weeks, the couple became parents to a little girl, named Evelyn.
In the years since that early-morning collision–the event that altered Suzanne’s path forever–she has often stopped to count her blessings. And among them, she includes the accident. “All of these different little decisions I made brought me to this point,” she said. She relishes her career, her marriage and her beautiful daughter, and all of the people and opportunities woven into her story.
To date, she has completed more than a thousand skydives–a feat that little Suzanne, longing to experience the sensation of a jump, couldn’t have imagined. But in the trophy case of her life, this impressive tally isn’t the shiniest prize for the glowing mother. That distinction would have to go to joy. After battling the feelings of being out of control (tension), making the commitment to a sober life (the leap) to reveling in the gifts that revealed themselves once she found peace in her faith (the gentle, easy glide), it’s been quite the ride. These days Suzanne is just grateful for every adventure, and every sweet surprise.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, call the Parkview Behavioral Health Institute's HelpLine at 260-471-9440 or 800-284-8439, anytime 24 hours a day. Experienced specialists are available to guide you to the appropriate level of care and resources.