A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mightier Than The Sword

Like me, you're probably still horrified by the massacre in Aurora, Colorado; and you probably wish there was something you could do to ease the victims' pain.
Well, there is something you can do for one victim.
Her name is Petra Anderson. She's an extremely gifted young violinist, conductor, composer and poet who graduated last spring from the University of Pacific Conservatory of Music.
I don't know her personally, but I do know her friend, Caroline McCaskey of San Pablo.
You might remember Caroline. She's the young musical saw virtuoso from San Pablo I wrote about last spring. She met Petra at UOP when she was a senior and Petra was a freshman.
"What really impressed me was how much she had her stuff together – much more than I did when I was her age," Caroline says. "I always used to tell her how much I like her style. When I graduated, she made gifts for all the seniors, and mine was a little necklace. She said, 'Here's a piece of my style to take with you.'"
Over the past week I've heard from many of Petra's friends and teachers, all of whom made the same point: As good as she is as a musician – and she's very, very good - she's even better as a human being.
"Aside from her considerable talents as a writer and thinker, what set her apart was her selfless dedication to a visually impaired student who was also in the class," says Professor Eileen Camfield, who taught her Freshman English. "Petra made sure he found his way across campus from class to class until he could do so on his own, and she explained/translated any visual instructions to him. She made his transition to college – and ultimate success there – that much easier. Such kindness was an inspiration to us all!" 
Petra was hit by a shotgun blast – three times in the arm and once in the head. The pellet struck her in the face and entered her head, its trajectory crossing the left hemisphere of her brain, which generally controls speech, language and memory.
Amazingly, the pellet missed the brain's many blood vessels and key sections controlling vital functions. If it had wavered a millimeter in any direction, she probably would have died or been severely injured.
Dr. Michael Rauzzino, the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery said, "It is a miracle that she is alive."
Petra is still in pain, and her recovery is going to be long and expensive. Her family can't contribute much because her mom is battling terminal breast cancer, which has eaten up their savings.
A fund has been set up to help defray the expenses. You can contribute by going to www.indiegogo.com/readytobelieve/
The first $100,000 will go to Petra's surgery, medical, and recovery costs. Any money after that will be divided between her mom's cancer treatment and the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA), a non-profit tasked by the Aurora Police Department to gather and distribute aid in response to the Aurora shooting.
Fran├žois Rose, Petra's music composition professor, who supervised many of her student projects, says, "I profoundly regret to see her name associated with this horrific tragedy, but I have faith that sooner or later you will hear her name again – but this time associated with another successful musical event."