Six months ago 21-year-old Co. Meath native Alisha Jordan was brutally attacked on Katonah avenue in the Bronx while walking home after a night out in the popular Irish neighborhood.
Alisha was left with horrific injuries and memories from the incident on July 14 2012.
Fast forward almost half a year later and the young footballer has made a whirlwind recovery and maintains a positive attitude about her ordeal and what her future holds.
With one more surgery left to undergo, Jordan talks about how the past few months have been and how she has realized how precious life is.
The brave 21-year-old underwent one surgery in 2012 in the weeks following her attack. Ten metal plates were inserted into her forehead to repair her fractured skull. In recent months, she has experienced headaches and migraines which sometimes force her to stop what she's doing. She has also had difficulties breathing through her nose.
An upcoming surgery on February 15 is so long after the attack as the swelling from her first surgery has only just gone down enough to open up Alisha's scar on her face and reset the bones in her nose to help her with her breathing and to put an end to the migraines. The recovery should only take a month or two before she will be back to her good self again.
The fresh faced youngster only sports one tiny visible scar on her forehead from the many injuries she endured, but she says her appearance has definitely taken a lot of getting used to. "It's been a long process and I have been unhappy with the way I look for so long that I am excited for my next surgery to make everything look a little better for myself. I think looking in the mirror everyday and seeing something different than what I'm used to has been a big struggle for me for so long, that hopefully after the surgery I can finally say, "you know, this is the way I'm going to look from now on so I just have to deal with it."”
Alisha has overcame so many hurdles with the help of family, friends, and the support from both people in New York and Ireland whom she can't thank enough for their generosity. But she has to admit, it hasn't been an easy road.
"Putting everything behind me I think for me has been one of the hardest things to do. It’s a very personal thing. I know I try very hard to forget about it but it will always be with me. I do try and deal with it as best I can everyday though. I think it’s normal to have good days and bad days and that is kind of where I am right now."
Regardless of everything that has been going on in Alisha's life, she was determined to get back to her job in White Plains. She returned to work last September where she says the support from her boss Bobby O'Connor and all the staff has been amazing. She couldn't be happier at work.
Alisha will be even happier when she gets to return to the football field in the coming months.
"One of the first questions I asked my surgeon was 'when can I go back playing football?' and thankfully he said once I use the face-mask I should be back playing in May. He could not understand why I would want to go back playing so soon but playing in Gaelic park with Rosie O Reilly shouting at me to track my player back is when I will truly feel like I have left this all behind me and things have got back to normal."
"2012 was the hardest year of my life and the fact that I have come through it with a good attitude and hopes for the future are what I am excited about. I have learned so so much from my experience,” she said.
“I know now how precious life can be. I have also learned if you have the family and friends around you like I did, then whatever life throws at you, it is so much easier to handle with them there. I will be forever grateful to the girls who drove me to the hospital every day or made me lunch and brought it into the hospital when I was staying there. I will never take stuff that simple for granted again.
“My hopes now for 2013 are to enjoy it. I have every intention of living life to the fullest from now on and 2013 is just the start of that."
Alisha's attitude is to be admired, being a girl to look at who displays such bravery and courage. Although she went through a terrifying ordeal on the streets just minutes away from her home, she still maintains that Woodlawn is a safe neighborhood but issues her precautions.
"Woodlawn to me is very safe during the day, but the more and more crimes committed at night anywhere, let alone in my own community, makes me more wary about going out at night. I would never ever walk home alone at night ever again. It is literally a split second decision that everybody makes at night but just call a cab, it’s only a few extra dollars to get where you are going."
Alisha's perpetrator has not yet been caught but she is confident he will be soon and justice will be done. DNA was taken from the t-shirt her friend managed to grab on the night of the attack and it has come back in the last few weeks. The police know who the man in question is but are still trying to locate him, as he is believed to be homeless.
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”