After all Maria Williamson had been through, she was struggling to readjust to life. Because following a violent carjacking attempt, the young woman was now facing the rest of her life with one eye. Moreover, no one could understand what she was going through – that is, until she spotted a photo on social media.
Williamson comes from Mobile, Alabama. In 2015 she was working as a waitress and studying to become an ultrasound technician. But in June that year, her life changed forever.
Williamson was making her way home after her shift when she came to a stop at an intersection in Midtown Mobile. The 26-year-old had been waiting to set off again when a group of strangers approached the car. Then, before she knew it, she heard a deafening gunshot.
Terrified, Williamson hastily drove off. The single gunshot, however, had hit her straight in the face. Yet despite being severely injured, the student somehow managed to steer herself to Mobile Infirmary Medical Center.
Once there, doctors got to work treating Williamson’s gunshot wound. “The bullet went through my nose, and damaged my right eye,” the victim told The Huffington Post in 2015. “Over the course of the next week, I had two surgeries, one of them to remove my right eye.”
Understandably, losing half her vision came as a huge blow to Williamson. “I was devastated,” she told ABC News in 2015. “The fear of the unknown really got me – ‘Will I be able to see far away?’ [and] ‘I can never watch 3-D movies again’ were the things running through my head.”
Not only did the incident leave Williamson with one eye, it had also knocked her confidence immensely. “I do not have any physical pain anymore, but the amount of emotional pain is insane,” she told TODAY months after her attack in 2015. “I have a severe anxiety when it comes to being out at night. I am basically afraid of the dark for the first time in my life.”
And Williamson would require more surgeries in the years to come. As a result, her colleagues at Mellow Mushroom, the restaurant where she worked, set up a crowdfunding campaign in the hopes of raising $25,000 to cover Williamson’s medical bills.
In the meantime, police arrested seven suspects in relation to the shooting. They charged one suspect with shooting into an occupied vehicle and attempted carjacking. Shockingly, the suspects were just 15 years old.
Despite everything, Williamson was determined to overcome her ordeal. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, began to what he could do to help her through. And that’s when he saw a post on social media about Bear the puppy.
Bear had had a rough start to life, despite the fact he was only one month old. Another dog had attacked him when he was just a tiny puppy. And as a result, the little dog had been left severely mutilated and in desperate need of surgery.
Luckily, the folks at the Animal Rescue Foundation stepped in to rescue Bear. Unfortunately, however, vets were too late to save one of the dog’s eyes. “As a result of his attack, his eye popped out of its socket and had to be surgically removed,” Alison Rellinger from the foundation explained to TODAY.
“The people that had Bear showed up at our vet, Rehm Animal Clinic, but couldn’t afford the extensive vet bills to save him,” she continued. “Our vet contacted us and asked if we would be willing to step in and get Bear the care he needed.”
Once he recovered from his surgery, Bear was ready to go up for adoption. The Animal Rescue Foundation then sent out an appeal to their followers on social media. And that’s when Williamson’s boyfriend first spotted the little puppy.
He shared his find with his injured girlfriend, and needless to say, it was love at first sight for Williamson. “I saw Bear through a friend’s Facebook page and I knew immediately I had to have him. I knew that I could understand his healing process better than anyone else,” she told TODAY.
In fact, Williamson adopted the dog that very day. “I couldn’t let him sit in the vet’s office one more night. I knew he needed to be home, and loved on by his human,” she told The Huffington Post.
And although Williamson had never owned a pet before, she soon adjusted to life with Bear. Moreover, he also settled in quickly. At home, his doting owner gave him the run of the house. She didn’t even mind when he chewed up anything he could get his paws on.
As time went on it became clear that Williamson and Bear had many things in common. “We both run into things, and are adjusting to life together. One thing I have realized, and am trying to teach him is [that] we can’t turn around on our ‘blind side!’ That’s the quickest way to bump into something,” Williamson told TODAY.
But more than that, Williamson and Bear have the same unbreakable spirit. Both of them are fighters who’ve never lost their lust for life despite their respective ordeals. “We are not victims, we are survivors,” Williamson proudly told the Huffington Post.
“I was so thankful to be alive,” she added in an interview with ABC News. “Look how close I was to losing my life. I did not, and still have not gone through depression. If anything I’ve gone through a celebratory period. I have a whole new outlook on life. Nothing can bring me down.”