Just a couple weeks shy of his 28th birthday, Meico Whitlock made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go out for dinner with a co-worker. That decision changed his life.
“It was a great night,” Meico recalls, remembering the conversation and sushi he enjoyed with his work friend. At the time Meico, who is from Atlanta, Georgia was living in Silver Springs, Maryland, and working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
After dinner that night, Meico headed home. He was about a block and a half from home when he passed a trio of young teens, one of who was holding a baseball bat. The next thing Meico remembers is waking up face down on the sidewalk screaming for help, and then waking up again in a hospital emergency room.
Meico suffered facial lacerations, a sprained neck, and a depressed skull fracture, the latter of which is still evident three years later. He spent a few days in the hospital, and then several weeks on bed rest.
“I was in so much pain that I really had to make a choice about where I was going to put my energy,” Meico recalls. “I could spend time asking, ‘Why did this happen?’ and being angry and upset, or I could put that energy into recovery and getting well. I decided I wanted to spend that time and energy to get well.”
After the attack, Meico suffered terrible headaches and severe neck pain so reading was challenging. He listened to CDs of services from Unity of Washington, D.C., which he officially joined just a month before the assault. Out of curiosity, Meico went on the web to see if he could find other positive resources to help him in his recovery. That’s when he discovered Unity Online Radio. One particular program he found helpful and inspiring was Discovering Eric Butterworth with Rev. Tom Thorpe (Tuesdays at 5 p.m. CT). He recalls Rev. Thorpe talking about “the best, worst thing that happened to you.” That’s how Meico viewed his assault.
All day long, every day, Meico streamed Unity Online Radio, listening while in bed or on the couch. Doing so helped him to stay focused on the positive—especially when his friends and family were fixated on finding out who was responsible for the attack and holding them responsible.
“People were expecting and wanting me to be upset or angry or to not be doing so well emotionally. That was just the opposite of what I was feeling. That jarred some people. My outlook was about moving forward and not looking backward. I spent a lot of time helping other people feel better about the fact that I was okay.”
Unity Online Radio, he says, was “a much-needed support system; a much-needed constant of support and encouragement and reinforcement of the idea that you have a choice in how you choose to live life and how to react to life and to be a co-creator of your experience. If you can own that, you can literally change your life.”
Prior to the assault, Meico says he was a very methodical guy who did a lot of research and analysis of all options before he made decisions. “What I learned was to not wait until everything is perfect to move forward.”
He also learned the value of forgiveness. “If you’re holding on to anger and un-forgiveness,” he says, “you’re not leaving room for other great things to happen in your life.”
Meico, who now lives in Washington, D.C., and works with a national nonprofit organization to help strengthen health department HIV and viral hepatitis programs in the United States, has fully recovered from the assault. Doctors monitored him for brain and nerve damage, but just a couple months ago, he was given a clean bill of health.
He remains appreciative of the role of Unity Online Radio in his recovery.
“I’m grateful it’s a resource that’s available,” Meico says. “I’m grateful it was there and existed during my time of need. I’m glad that I could be helped by it, and I hope it’s a source of inspiration for other people as well.”
Meico says he didn’t—and doesn’t—spend time wondering why he was attacked. Recently he learned that the attackers were arrested and prosecuted. Meico plans to reach out to them at some point and continues to pray for the best for everyone involved in the situation.