UPDATED AUGUST 31, 2013
As one victim of the Aurora theater shooting, Petra’s miracle story has been an incredible one. Petra survived being shot in the face, and hours of brain surgery to remove the shotgun pellet, because of God’s grace. Over a million people have read the blog post. From nearly all places on the planet, we have received kind notes and encouragements. Most importantly, people have been praying for Petra and all the victims of the shooting. Please continue beseeching the Heavenly Father to bring more and more good from this evil night, and to help heal those families who suffered great loss. As Christians, we do believe God answers prayers.
Over and over, people have asked me to blog updates on Petra. Many of these updates are now at the bottom of the original story, but all are collected here, too. I have laid them out in their order of appearance. Thank you for your participation in our lives, across miles and oceans. We could not do it without you.
August 31, 2013. I have a recent, simple update for those of you who care–in some heart-connected way–about Petra. A few months ago, I had the privileged of participating in the wedding of Petra and her fiancee, Austin, at our church in Englewood. In a simple white dress, wearing a simple string of pearls and a pearl tiara, Petra and Austin and God wrote together a simple yet glorious post-script to their part in the Aurora shooting. On this day, they proclaimed, “We will move forward with joy. God has done a wonderful thing in our lives.” Austin, who played his clarinet with grace in the hospital for Petra as she struggled to recover from brain surgery, has vowed to keep on playing the clarinet–or whatever instrument is on hand–as long as she needs to hear the music. He is an amazing young man. And Petra, whose wounds have healed and whose mind is clear and sharp almost every moment of every day, is playing her own music again. She is playing her violin, writing music, and working as a Music Assistant as she studies at the University of Maryland. She is fully alive, once again the kind of woman her mother, Kim, who died last year, would be extremely proud of.
One of my rules of living, born of a lifetime of world travel, laughter, and struggle, is simply this: Rule 5 – Growing and dying are the only options. Choose. Now. Petra and Austin have chosen to grow. To grow each moment of each day. To grow together in marriage into one blessed family. I rejoice in who they are, and in who they are growing into. Please join us in praying for this young couple, setting off on their journey with a pile of hopes. Decide to push away death and bitterness and grow in your own life. As well, join us as we continue to pray for others whose lives were shattered or changed in Aurora in July of 2012. – BRS
July 24th, 2012: Petra was moved from ICU yesterday. She continues to improve. Please keep praying.
July 26th, 2012: Petra is recovering well today, although she is still very weak and unsettled. She is talking with us, moving about a bit, and even eating some. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Medical update. As well, the neurosurgeons involved have reviewed post-surgery MRI brain scans, and clarified Petra’s injury to the family. The channel was not a “defect,” as we originally understood it to be. As the family understands it now, it is more of a fluid-filled pocket which starts right where the bullet entered Petra’s brain. Everyone has these channels, it seems, in random places. According to her doctors, the miracle is not that Petra’s brain was different from others, or deformed. The miracle is that the bullet hit Petra exactly where this fluid pocket occurred in her brain, and then traveled a journey through her brain missing all the vital areas. With the family’s permission, one of Petra’s doctors, Dr. Michael Rauzzino, was interviewed for NBC News today:
“If the pellet had wavered a millimeter, really in any direction from what it actually took, then she would have likely either died or been severely injured. I would say this is definitely a miracle…It would be hard to create a path similar to this where it goes all the way from the front to the back and misses every single blood vessel, doesn’t bother any of the major structures, and leaves her able to talk and move everything and not be paralyzed or dead. Never in my entire career have I seen a case where a bullet has traversed the entire brain like this and not caused severe damage or death.”
(For the full story by Amanda Leitsinger, you can go to “Shotgun pellet’s ‘miracle’ path spared Aurora victim’s life” at NBCNews.com.)
July 28th, 2012: It is hard for us to believe it was only eight days ago that Petra had two brain surgeries after being shot in the head. For the family, it has been a blur, like trying to see faces in the windows of a train passing by at high speed. Or trying to stand in the center of a playground merry-go-round, with people spinning it faster and faster. In the blur, one thing remains clear: we have been blessed. We have been taken care of by wonderful medical personnel at the Hospital. We have found friends all over the world interceding for us. Yesterday afternoon, a week after being admitted, Petra was released from the hospital to go to a rehab hospital. Unbelievable. We are rejoicing. Still, Petra is weak, and has much healing ahead. But she is anxious to get her life back on track, and to move ahead. Please keep her in your prayers.
August 1, 2012:Petra has been doing very well in the rehab hospital. She is learning to move and think again. We are proud of her dedication, and her desire to get on with her life. She listens to her music, and has even been surprised by her boyfriend playing his clarinet for her. One newspaper reporter wrote:
“Each morning for the past few days, Austin Hogan has carefully pulled out his clarinet, put in a reed and played music in the hospital room. His audience, lying on her back, is quiet and lets it wash over her. The first day he did it, Hogan played something from Mozart. The next day, she asked for something faster. For Petra Anderson — whose survival is nothing short of a miracle, says her doctor — the music delivers something the tubes snaking into her arm from the IV drip simply can’t. It feeds her soul.”
(For the full story from David Montero, Salt Lake Tribune, go to, “Petra’s story: Aurora victim survives thanks to a ‘miracle’”).
The family surrounds Petra with love, and the prayers of thousands carry her along. Some day soon she might even get to go home to her own room, her own bed, her own refrigerator. What a day that will be. Thank you for traveling this journey with her. As well, at Petra’s and the family’s urging, Kim is now out of state for a few days, receiving chemo therapy in hopes of extending her life with her family. It is a difficult, trying, process. She deeply appreciates your prayers.
August 18, 2012: Petra was released from the rehab hospital this week, and has moved back home. After two brain surgeries, her quick recovery has been beyond belief! Thank you for your prayers! Petra was even at church Sunday, a joyous occasion! Her dear mother, Kim, has been in Houston for several weeks, trying to beat or delay the cancer. It has been an extremely difficult battle. She can use your prayers. We are very thankful to the special friends and churches in Houston that have come alongside her. You rock! She is excited to come home to see Petra and her family. We hope and pray it is soon.
August 21, 2012: Petra and her family flew last night down to Houston. Petra is healing well, but Kim, Petra’s mom, has taken a turn for the worse. The flight back to Denver may be replaced by a quicker flight over a greater distance: the journey from Earth to Heaven. Kim’s cancer-filled body is about to die.
We trust God in all of this, and we are thankful that God gave Kim a chance to help care for and heal her little girl. Throughout Petra’s ordeal, Kim has been the kind of loving parent we all desire to have and to be. We gather with sadness but unshaken faith. Death is no one’s friend, but it has no power over the spirit set free by Christ. Death becomes simply a doorway to a new place where intimacy with God and others is as natural as breathing. Soon, Kim will be released to be as she was designed to be. We ask you to pray for the family, and ask the Father that the short time they have together will be rich and joyous.
August 28, 2012: Sunday night, Kim Anderson, Petra’s mom, went to be with the Lord. Her passing was gentle, and she was surrounded by family and friends. Her family will return home tonight from Houston, and a service is planned at her church, Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, in Englewood, Colorado, at 11 am on September 8th. Kim expended the last weeks of her life supporting her daughter Petra, and the rest of her family. It has been a time of reflection, perseverance, and surprised blessing. Kim told me it has been like walking along a road after running out of gas in the mountains, and then noticing a silvery lake just off the road, reflecting the sunset. While you might wish you had never run out of gas, you are actually thankful, for you know you would have driven by so quickly that you would have missed the beauty. Thank you for praying for and loving this special family.