INDIANAPOLIS — “Resilience is the ability to bounce back,” said 43-year-old Tiran Jackson.
Jackson said he never knew how resilient he could be until three and a half years ago, when his life changed in an instant.
One moment, Jackson and his then-wife Maleka were in the Bahamas, celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary.
“Life was great," Jackson remembered. "Live was wonderful."
The next moment, the tour boat they were on exploded, killing Maleka, 39, and leaving Jackson fighting for his life.
Doctors had to amputate Jackson’s left leg below the knee to save him after it got infected.
That wasn’t even the most difficult part — calling his 12-year-old son was.
“I had to call Cameron," Jackson recalled. "I had to tell him, ‘Your mom’s not coming home.’”
Jackson endured months of rehabilitation, learning to walk with a prosthetic leg, all while coping with memories of his life with Maleka.
Their first seven years of marriage were spent in Indianapolis, where Jackson worked as an engineer for Rolls Royce and Maleka was a Lawrence Township Schools teacher.
“I was really broken emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and it was a lot to have to bounce back from,” said Jackson.
He did, though, after remembering a promise he made to Maleka a year earlier, that if anything were ever to happen to her, he would take care of their son the best way he knew how.
“I needed to be able to fulfill that request, honor that request,” Jackson explained.
He does so every day, while speaking to and coaching others on how to come back from trauma, loss and tragedy.
“I started to realize there is power in being able to inspire others, and that became part of my change, part of my purpose,” said Jackson.
"Choosing Resilience," his first book, goes on sale Tuesday. Jackson calls it a road map for healing after incredible loss.
“I didn’t know I had this in me,” he said.
He's finding out every day he does.
Last September, Jackson got married again.
“I’ve been honored to bounce back from such a tragic situation and find joy and happiness in my life,” he said.
And Jackson’s sharing that joy with others, helping people find theirs, too, even if they think it’s gone.
“I feel like I understand what my purpose is,” said Jackson.
Click here to learn more about finding resilience in tragedy and adversity.
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