By Sister Therese Maria Touma
On our recent visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Ohio, I interviewed Richard Loutfi (25), from Brooklyn N.Y. about his terrible attack in Queens, N.Y. which had left him with brain damage and other physical limitations. On the upside, we also discussed at length his journey of recovery and the good that has come from this tragic event, a deeper conversion to the faith and a greater appreciation for the gift of life and especially the simple things in life!
I asked Richard three main questions: What happened to you on the night of your attack? How did it affect your life? How has it changed you as a person? Here I share a summary of our conversation:
On August 15, 2009 Richard was viciously attacked and robbed by a group of men in Queens, N.Y. on the evening of the Feast of the Assumption. He was left unconscious and wounded in the street. When he woke up hours later, he heard a woman’s voice tell him to “go and look to your left to get help.” Richard sensed that it was the Mother of God. Once Richard managed to get up, he went to get help and came across two men, who saw him bleeding from his nostrils and ears. So the men called the ambulance, and Richard was immediately rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Centre.
At the hospital four trauma responders worked rapidly to control the pressure and bleeding from his brain, so that they could then transfer him to undergo brain surgery. After the extensive brain procedure, Richard was bed ridden for a month. His body was weak, his speech had been severely impaired, he had no strength to walk and function as he would normally do. He had to go to rehabilitation to re-learn how to walk and talk, and he continues with rehab to this day.
Furthermore, as a result of the attack, Richard suffered post traumatic stress and paranoia. He lost trust in all his friends. He became quite angry towards the world, the police, and even his closest friends. He lost contact with all of his old friends and broke of his relationship with his girlfriend. He was quite shattered emotionally and physically from the hurtful incident.
However, today Richard happily stated that he is now at peace with God and the world, as he has made many new friends who are sincere and supportive. Most importantly, he attributes his healing and recovery to the grace of God and the Mother of God. This event has completely changed Richard for the better as he has become happier as a person, as he has put his full trust in God, through the power of prayer.
Two years later, Richard is now speaking at a 90% capacity and walking with the help of a cane for balance. Spiritually, Richard has grown closer to God and his love and devotion towards the Mother of God has grown tremendously. He is now spending more time in prayer, and loves to pray the rosary each day.
In conclusion, Richard shared some beautiful thoughts, he said, “I don’t take things in life for granted, especially the beautiful gift of life. I smile now when bad things happen, I smile when I see the sun, I stop to smell the flowers and take in the beauty around me. I thank God constantly for his creation and the gift of his peace. I am happy I can see, walk and feel…I am alive and at peace with God.”