When she was just 18, a car accident confined Noe Gaya to a wheelchair. Two decades on, her strength and enormous generosity of spirit are an example of how to embrace life despite adversity. Writing and painting are her forms of expression and way of communicating with the world. Noe Gaya believes in enjoying every moment and living the life we’ve been given.
You’ve always been very committed to social actions. Is this an innate feeling or did it manifest at a particular moment in your life?
Honestly, I think it’s innate, I’ve always liked writing about what moves me. I’ve always been very emotional.
It’s been 20 years since the accident that changed your life, 20 years of constant struggle and overcoming personal challenges. Where did you find the strength to keep going?
It’s an on-going struggle, but there is something inside that tells me not to give up, to keep fighting. The love I receive from my family, who are my angels, has given me strength, and gradually I’ve achieved a lot of things. Sometimes I look at everything I’ve done, and everything I’m doing, and honestly, I’m really proud of myself. I don’t know how far I’ll get, or how everything will turn out, but I stay positive and await the gifts that life has to give. So far I can’t complain.
What goes through the head of an 18-year-old after an accident like yours?
So many things. It’s a very strange, confusing, and dark situation. I’m not sure how I made it through those difficult times. Slowly my spirits lifted, I started feeling more enthusiastic, and the people around me did too. This has also helped me a lot in finding the will to live.
In 2015 you published Camí de la Papallona; now, five years later, you wrote a book of children’s stories. What does writing mean to you?
I wrote the first book at a very difficult time, but I had a lot of faith, hope, and strength. In the book, I talk about the feelings, emotions, and sensations I have experienced since the year 2000 when I had the accident. It’s a first-person narrative about what this life-changing event meant for me and my loved ones. Completing the book was tough. My disability makes it hard to write, because I need a special computer program. It takes a lot of patience to find each letter in a digital alphabet and click the one I want using my right thumb and a push-button. The writing process took me about two years. Even so, I hope it managed, and still manages, to awaken the hearts and minds of many people. That is the main goal.
Then, years later, an angel showed up to help me publish my first story: Aprenent a volar. Raul Arenas set himself the solidarity challenge of running 190 km, and with the help of sponsors and donations, he made my dream come true. He put all the funds that were raised towards financing the story I was telling you about.
Writing is everything to me, it is my way of communicating.
Art is an escape and a way of expressing yourself. Have you always had an interest in art and culture?
It’s been a way of moving forward and rising from the ashes. Frankly, before the accident, I wasn’t into art. But then it became a way of distracting myself, and it helped my parents and me financially. I’m lucky to have my mother, who supported me, so it was also really good for the two of us.
Are you aware of how much your experience can help others who have gone through something similar?
Yes, I’m very aware of that.
If you could speak to all of them, what would you say?
To have faith, hope, and family harmony, to find the will to live and await the gifts that life will give you. And to appreciate the simple fact of experiencing every day, because time passes so quickly, and everything can change in an instant.
Your disability has not kept you from climbing mountains. What are your memories of the 5 cims (5 summits) initiative? And the commitment of all the top athletes that participated?
They were very special moments, because I felt very comfortable there, with the friends who helped me fly, even if it was only for a moment and on the inside. A lot of people participated, I was very happy and have very good memories.
Tell us about your mother, your family, and how important they’ve been in your life.
My mother is my angel, the person who knows me best. She’s a true fighter and has never left my side. My parents are what drive me, they’re my legs and my arms. Honestly, I couldn’t ask for better care. I lack so much, but at the same time, I have everything. My sister, my brother-in-law, and my nieces have also always been there for me. Bit by bit I moved forward, I’m doing much better now, they’re better too, and our lives are much better.
Do you have any new goals in mind?
To keep pursuing my dreams and a wish or two. Right now I live in the moment, and for the rest of my life, I’ll await the gifts that life has to give while enjoying this second opportunity I’ve been given.
How would you like to live the rest of your life?
However destiny has laid it out for me.
What advice would you give to live life with greater optimism despite difficulties?
Live every second that life grants you. You have to be positive and keep your spirit alive, cheerful, and positive even if challenges come your way.
A Brief Taste
A place to get lost in.
An island with a turquoise lagoon where there are two dolphins that I can play with and caress, and there would be a hut to observe and take in the landscape.
What do you most enjoy doing?
I love sunbathing, feeling the warmth of the sun.
A flaw and a virtue.
One of my flaws is the inability to control my anger in certain situations. One of my virtues is having a lot of empathy.
What did you want to be as a child? And when you’re older?
I always liked small children and I worked at a daycare when I got older. I still like children, but since the accident I really like clothes and being well dressed.