“Everything can change in a split second,” said Australian Sam Bloom, and out of all people, she definitely knows this to be true. She’s a mother who used to love going swimming, running, and surfing whenever she had the time to.
But one day, it changed in an instant.
In January 2013, Bloom suffered a horrible accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down.
While on vacation with her family in Thailand, she fell from the hotel rooftop terrace down to the ground, falling about two stories. The rotten wooden railing had given way as she rested against it.
The injuries from the fall included a fractured skull, ruptured lungs, and a bleeding brain—and paralysis. One can imagine how distraught Bloom was upon realizing her life would change forever.
“I was so angry,” she told BBC News. “I was also really angry at myself.”
She was able to recover from her other injuries, but Bloom had a hard time coming to terms with her paralysis; having to stay in the hospital for six months didn’t help either. Even after she was able to go back home, the woman was losing hope in life.
But, like Bloom had previously stated, life can change in an instant. And that’s what happened one day a few months after she got back home.
While the family was visiting Bloom’s mother, one of her sons came across a baby magpie that had fallen out of its nest.
It was a tiny baby, and the family had no hesitation taking it into their home. Despite the vet telling them how difficult it would be to care for a magpie, they decided to make her a part of the family.
And it turned out to be the right call.
They named the bird Penguin, and Bloom especially took a liking to her.
“She was pretty much on my lap or on my shoulder from the moment we brought her home. She was just company and she’d make us laugh,” Bloom said.
At the time, Bloom felt frustrated that she couldn’t care for her own family because of her condition, but she was able to care for the bird. Penguin gave Bloom her confidence back.
If anything, Penguin became Bloom’s recovery buddy, so to speak.
“I would talk to her, tell her how I was,” Bloom said.
At this point, she thought her husband had probably heard enough when it came to her talking about her struggles, so she turned to Penguin, who always had a set of open ears.
The rest of the family also grew close with Penguin, and her husband loved taking pictures of the bird to the point where he created an Instagram page for the magpie, one that has amassed for 160,000 followers.
It’s safe to say that Penguin had a positive impact on everyone in the family.
And eventually, Bloom was even able to get back on the water with her newfound confidence, by joining a kayaking team.
As Penguin grew older, she would spend more and more time away from home. The family knew that one day, these vacations would be permanent, and sure enough, there was one day where Penguin flew away, and never came back.
But the impact Penguin had on Bloom and her family is felt even to this day; just like Penguin was eventually able to find her place in the wild, Bloom was also able to adapt to her injuries, and find a new sense of purpose.