ENID, Okla. —
“Ain’t no stopping him now.” — Tammy Plaster,
Aguirre was out of danger and into physical rehab, likely a two-week process learning how to walk, shower and change clothes in his still-fragile condition.
No more waiting for bad news, just physical labor and milestones, much more in the wheelhouse of an 18-year-old two-time state title defensive and tight end.
Aguirre said two weeks was too long — he wanted to go home in five days.
When asked for one step, he took two. Two steps? He climbed some stairs.
He offered to help paint walls when Plaster took him for a roll around the Southwest Medical Center grounds, and stopped to chat with passers by.
Aguirre rose each morning ready to work and ended each day exhausted but another step closer to normal, a state he’ll come close to before he’s completely finished. He wanted out, and with the support of so many at his back, failure meant letting down the hopes of hundreds that grew to thousands following his progress.
“Throughout my walk every day, or my roll every day now, I kind of watch myself with how many people are looking up to me or looking to me for support and strength,” Aguirre said.
Five days after he entered rehab, Aguirre was released — the fastest discharge the Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center had done, Plaster was told.
“Typical Car,” Luetjen said. “He bounces back quicker than anyone ever could have dreamed.”
“This is just a little part in my life.” — Car Aguirre
Aguirre wanted a graduation he could recall fondly, not one remembered through pictures of him rolling across the stage in a wheelchair.
He’d use a walker to cross the stage. At least he’d be upright.
When he crossed the stage on Friday, he ditched that, too. He limped and struggled his way to his diploma, his face expressing the moment perfectly — halfway a smile, halfway a wince.
“There are still some days I get frustrated,” he said. “I love playing summer volleyball, and stuff like that. (Wednesday), they were all playing volleyball, and I thought, ‘Why did it have to be me?’
“But when I look back at it, I’d rather it be me than anyone else on my team or anybody else that I know. I’d rather it be me than anyone else.”
Aguirre has a daunting future ahead. What likely would have been a football career in college has become a clean slate, one that will be filled parallel to another year of rehab, meetings, soreness and sadness.
He has a loose idea of what’s next. He might study music — he was a involved in Hennessey’s theater productions, and his own Facebook page is dotted with impromptu performances from the surprise singer-songwriter, Aguirre playing simple guitar rhythms to carry his twangy but smooth country baritones.
He might coach football. He might join the ministry.
For certain, he’ll keep the one thing that came out stronger out of his trials close — his faith.
“Every day it was tested. But getting mad at God, what’s that going to do?” he said. “This is just a little part in my life. Six months to a year, that’s just a little part.”
The big part comes next.