The Y in the Road:  the Continuation

January 18, 2020 by Vanna Nguyen


I am united with my daughter as we share the same basic instinct for survival. My faith has sustained me since April 24th, 2008 when Kendrick Morris raped my daughter and left her for dead at the Bloomingdale Library. My daughter is encased within a prison mentally and physically as she cannot walk, talk, see or eat on our own. For more than a decade, her warmth of personality, determination and ability to connect with others remain strong while he is in prison for life. Justice has been served and I am focused on my full-time job of taking care of Queena. I have been writing in my office, garage, since September 2013. I have an agent, Geoff Stone of the Rudy Agency and have completed most of my writing using the “notes” app on my iPhone and then emailing my editor.

When bad things happen without explanation in the world, we are scared hearing of these random acts of violence. Will it overtake us or our family? If it does, we have shown we can survive and that random acts of kindness can make a difference. God will walk with us in our faith and abide and love us through the hardships. When I arrived in the United States after leaving South Vietnam when the country fell to communism, I came alone as an immigrant propelled by the love and support of my father and family. I beat the odds. I believe that my daughter will beat the odds and so I remain, a tireless advocate for Queena’s rehabilitation from traumatic brain injury sustained during the attack.

I have big goals and want to see “The Life She Once Knew: The Incredible True Story of Queena, The Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor” published in several languages providing hope to the downtrodden around the world. I want to see it become a movie. My wish is 100 % of the book or any related proceeds can support ongoing expenses through Hope Heals the Brain, Inc. and Queena’s Medical Trust Fund.

I am thrilled to sign with Ambassador International as of November 12th 2019. This was the right decision as this is a strong Christian Publisher. The publication date will be around November 10, 2020. Stayed tuned as more news will be shared the closer the publication date.

Both Queena and I are survivors and our story will speak to many people of different cultures, ages, genders and experience. My past as an immigrant in the United States, building a successful business, and raising my children as a single mom strengthened and guided my decisions today. We are very grateful for the random acts of generosity and kindness including the donation of Guy Harvey Inc. for the VIP trip to the Gator Bowl, and the attention of the public to Queena from our community for her abominable will to survive against the odds. It is because of goodness continuing and the strength of faith that I am able to move past the event, enjoy the wedding of Queena’s sister Anna, and move forward with optimism. I still remember the beautiful teenager Queena enjoying putting on makeup and fixing her hair with her strong small group of friends, her involvement in sports, and her strong personality. 

My business continues forward and with support from community, my family continues forward. Retelling the events reassures me that this crime will not be forgotten but that the strength of my family’s faith, and the response of the community will ensure that Queena is not forgotten. Thank you. The road to recovery is long but if you take it one day, and one victory at a time, you will survive.


April 24, I Will Never Forget You

April 24, 2019 by Vanna Nguyen {Queena’s Mom}
Every parent has a hope that their child will be successful in life. Not just successful in their chosen profession, but successful in a social environment as well. Being a immigrant from an Asian Country and thrown into a foreign culture, my desire for my children’s successful assimilation may have been just a little more intense than the average mother, but the desired result crosses International  Boundaries, regardless of culture, language, education level or socioeconomic standing. We provide the right tools, the right guidance, the right advice, and then send them  on their way, all the while keeping our fingers crossed, our minds flexible, and, in many cases, our purses open for that continual need for parental assistance.


What we do not count on is a hostile environment that, in a single misplaced conviction can undue nearly everything that has been planned for. Every detail, every lesson, every push…all comes crashing down because another person had a different, more evil mission, and it crossed paths with yours. It may only take 15 minutes, and in my case, I was not even present at the moment of collapse.


My collapse was eleven years ago. My collapse was yesterday. My collapse will never end. My collapse happened at a most innocent of places. The Library. It occurred during the most innocent of actions. Returning books.


I will never forget the late night call from my daughter’s friend, who just happened to be on a call with my daughter as it all happened. The call was panic stricken, and came so fast to make any sense. Yes, this lady had to hear the beginning of my terror live. A lifetime of horrors.


How do you survive when your foundation is shaken to the core? When one of the people you lived for hangs on to the tenets of a thread daily for survival? What if the guidance instilled by your parents and something you honored and passed on to your daughters was the only thing that you hung on to daily as if they were perfectly organized objects representing all the traditional values instilled in you years ago in Saigon. This is how you survive and hold on through your daughter’s prognosis as she slowly comes to from a beast that put her down like a wild animal striking at the heart of what you hold sacred.


You think you can predict some things and that there are things you can prevent daily especially since you feel you escaped war in your country and being part of the belly of the best or being in the belly of the beast as your boat sailed from Saigon with your father’s blessings. There has been so much hard work and roads traveled to reach this point and suddenly the thread unravels and tangles into many snarled edges which you were unaware of and could not predict would enter your cherished daughter’s life.


How could you even predict how you feel when some appointed by the court stand up as professionals to testify that since he doesn’t rip or destroy library books that he can be rehabilitated? You listen and cannot understand as you look at your daughter’s life: can her life be repaired or rehabilitated: someone who received a full academic scholarship to the University of Florida and someone who you anticipated going to her first prom. A little thing but perhaps the cusp of the matter: she will not be attending prom. The first time you had ever been to an American prom and as you glance at her face looking small on the pillow and her misshapen body you imagine a beautiful young woman standing tall and straight as her date pins her corsage on to her dress. Instead of attending prom, there is a doctor standing nearby and several nurses watching her closely.


What did I do wrong? What did I do right? What was her fault? What was mine? I knew the only way forward was forgiveness. I knew I would never have answers that would soothe out the stabbing ache I felt. I pressed down the pain. Move on.




There is Reason to Continue to Hope

March, 20,2019 {written April 24, 2018} by Vanna Nguyen
Words from a Momma, dreaming big dreams, filled with the hope for a wonderful future for her children… Then, her dreams were shattered in one night. But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, she has overcome, and she knows that God is sufficient. Hope restored.

“Excitement was in the air, and celebration plans were being made. A bright new world was ahead of my daughter, Queena. She was days away from her prom and high school graduation. My older daughter, Anna, had already successfully entered college. I was so proud of them. I was also proud that I had succeeded in setting my girls up to continue having all the privileges and opportunities I didn’t back in Vietnam. My heart was happy. My girls had made it.”

Shattered Dreams

It was April 24, 2008. I will never forget the moment. My world just stopped. I went completely numb, not knowing if I was ever going to be able to talk to her again. I stood there and cried, begged God not to take my daughter. My heart was breaking into a million pieces, because I couldn’t help her.
A phone call came in that would change everything. The call informing me that something might be wrong since a friend of Queena’s had heard her scream during a phone call, and then was unable to reach her again. I had already sensed that the time for my daughter to return home from work was dragging on a little too long. I assumed the best. Maybe she stopped for something to eat. Maybe her cell phone battery had died. But in reality, the darkest night of my life was about to come.

My world went numb. I was simultaneously begging God to please spare my daughter’s life, while also trying to understand how any of this could be real. Who would do this to my Queena? She was loved by everyone. She would never put herself in a situation where something like this could happen. This could not have happened.

The rest of that night would be filled with facing my deepest fears, and chosing to move foward for my daugter. The next hours would indicate my daughter’s potential for recovery, or lack of potential for recovery… The part I held onto was the fact that the doctor said, “she would be okay.” That was enough. Queena had fought for her life long enough to be rescued. And somehow, it was all going to have to be okay.

Days went on. Many questions whirled around in my head. Mixtures of blame, regret, hatred, hope, faith, and sorrow. Details continued to unfold with the investigators as well as in regards to her physical injuries and how long their effects would last. For many of the questions, unspeakable answers began to become unraveled. No! Please, God, no.

Everyone’s dreams hit occasional detours. By her age, my life’s detour brought serious challenges, but also the hope of opportunity. What good could possibly come from a detour like this in Queena’s young life? It had always been my job to nurse her injuries and make things better, but how was I supposed to do that now? As I sat there, and thought of all that we had overcome before, I knew that with God we would make it. She was alive. I found hope in knowing my daughters and I would get through this together.

Hope Restored

It’s true. My daughter’s life, and the lives of her family and friends, changed in an instant. But, then, she fought through every bit of it. She is such a fighter and so strong. The first time she opened her eyes, I knew that she would make it through this journey. And if not for the grace of God, we may have lost her completely. But, He gave her a second chance at life, and I will forever be grateful for the blessing of the miracle that He gave us. Her life was spared, and her ongoing fight and recovery process wound up being a source hope and inspiration to many others.

Today marks 10 years of Queena’s strength & persistence in her fight against Traumatic Brain Injury plus Anoxic Brain Injury. God has shown her so much grace and mercy. He is keeping His promise, and Queena is progressing each and everyday. And with love, hope and God, nothing is impossible.

I may still remember the sting of those tough times many years ago, but the pain is diminished by the memory of those who encouraged us. Without the encouragement, support, and generosity of the community, my daughter would not have made the remarkable progress that she has shown. You all have made a difference in Queena’s life.

Please continue to pray for healing and restoration. May God’s will continue to bless Queena. Her healing continues daily, but there is still more needed.

“Thank you & God bless you all!!”
– Queena’s Mom

Memories we will always have forever…




God Is Calling

April 10, 2018 by Vanna Nguyen
I remember two years after Queena had been discharged from HealthSouth Inpatient Rehab. We had been through so many doctor’s appointments, rehabs, therapy sessions, and occupational therapy with Queena. We had done it all. But she had no improvement.
One day, I talked with a friend about how frustrated I was. I asked her if I needed to change my prayer to please Jesus? Maybe He needs something else from me?
She said, “Vanna, do you think you are going to give up your dream to please Him?”
“My dream?” I asked in confusion.

“Yes, your dream. Like you dreamed Queena would have a recovery and go to college?” she questioned.
I was thinking, no way. I’m not going to give up that dream for Queena. I kept thinking and thinking many nights and I kept asking Jesus, is that the reason He didn’t put His hands on Queena? Did He really want us to give up our “life dream?”

A few weeks later, while asleep, I dreamed I was standing by a very dark and long tunnel. I couldn’t see where the end was. I was so scared and didn’t want go in there myself. Then one man came to stand next to me. He wore a white long gown, and was tall and skinny. His eyes so peaceful like I have never seen in a human. I asked him, “Do you know if another road is better than this? This tunnel looks so scary and dark. I can’t go through this…” He looked at me said in calmer voice than I ever heard in a human, “Yes, this is the only way you need to use to go through this tunnel. You don’t have another easy road to go…” Then he spread His left arm out next to me said, “But, if you hold my hand, I will take you through this…” I trusted Him right away or because I had no choice. I held His hand, and walked slowly into that dark tunnel without being nervous or scared…
In the morning when I woke up, I remembered exactly the dream. I ran to Queena’s room and looked up to Jesus’s picture. It had been the gift from a Pastor, who gave it to Queena, when she had just gotten home after six months in the hospital and rehab. Oh my gosh, the man in my dream looked exactly like the one in this picture. I thought again about what my friend told me.

The next day, she emailed me asking, “Do you have the little red book titled Jesus Calling? The devotional for today reminds me so much of you. It starts with ‘Keep walking along the path I have chosen for you.’ It seems so much the way you described your dream with Jesus holding your hand.”
I thought “Oh, I remember someone had given that audio book to Queena for her last birthday.” I planned that we would listen to that sometime later.
So confused about my dream, I reached to the bible and opened it. And, guess what? This bible verse stood out right by my eyes:
“Forget yourself, carry your cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

I decided to take His hands even though it meant letting go of what we were holding on to and give up my dream. I told Queena, “Okay, Queena, I am not going to pray for you to go to University of Florida anymore. Jesus is the One to decide your future and I trust in Him and I want follow Him!” Queena looked at me with her sad eyes, like she wanted to say, “Really, mom? I couldn’t wait to get there, but…I don’t need go to UF. I don’t have to be a Gator. I would rather be with Jesus”
Queena can’t see, but she can hear and understand very well. Praise God for her long term memory not being destroyed. She has been listening to a lot of “college level” audiobooks. Every time anyone asked me what Queena would like for her birthday or Christmas, then I said audiobook. Because those are so useful as she is bed and wheelchair bound.
She usually listened to audiobooks at home, but this time somehow I decided to put the Jesus Calling audio book in her van’s CD player, for her to listen while I was driving her back and forth from her therapy.

I remember on August 10, 2014, I texted Amy (my niece), “I am tired and depressed because Queena is not getting better fast enough. But I guess there is nothing I can do. I wish it never happened and she was going to graduate with her MBA by this year.”
Amy replied, “Everything has to take it’s time, something like this can’t be rushed. Even though by this time Queena could have gotten her MBA, she still made a difference in someone else’s life–in the world, and inspired everybody. Somebody that has a masters degree or any degree can’t do what Queena did. God has chosen her to reach out and light up lives! You did everything you could and you did great and wonderful! It just takes time.”
Boom! A wake up call for me. I was crying, running to the van, looking for an audiobook “Jesus Calling”. I turned it on, and it was really a calling, “Come to Me with your plans held in obedience, Worship me in Spirit and in truth, allowing My glory to permeate your entire being. Trust Me enough to let Me guide you through the day, accomplishing My purpose in My timing. Subordinate your many plans to My Master Plan. I am sovereign over every aspect of your life!” I felt God wanted me to surrender myself unto Him, and make full proof of that calling.
As I continued listening, “I am the light of the world – whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life” (John 8:12). It is astounding that Jesus calls himself the light of the world and, in Mathew 5:14-16, Jesus also declares that we are the light of the world! He encourages us to let our light – our good deeds – shine before others so that they may glorify our Father in heaven.
Are there some ways I can be the light of the world? I really want to show glory to God with all the blessings and miracles to Queena and our family, but by what? I’m too small and insignificant. I don’t know how to talk, if so, with my broken English nobody understands what I’m saying. But then I figured out, I can write Queena’s journey to show people how amazing is God.
God is calling. I learned every little thing I do may make a difference. No matter how small it seems, it could be huge to someone else.

Three years ago, I started to sit down in my garage and write. No matter the weather, very hot… very cold… or huge storm. Day and night I remained, nonstop writing every time I had a chance to take a break from Queena. It was very difficult to relive that night. There was so much emotion for me to recall the night of the call–exactly what happened from my point of view, and resetting the scene of that dreadful night–my first reaction and response, and the journey Queena has gone through. There were lots of tears. I felt like I had two Queenas. There was the one before and the one now. I really missed my Queena from before the attack, but I am also so proud of Queena today. She has inspired adults and children all over the world, and become an international known symbol of hope and inspiration.
I wrote this book about my daughter, because I want to give glory to God for all His grace and mercy. I want to write down the truth of His nature. I want to share with the world about His goodness and grace in our lives with a beautiful ease. I want to share with hearts of love and humility for others.
Through our experience, He has sent me love from around the world, love from an extraordinary, wonderful community of supporters. Their love has been just so amazing and helped us to have strength. All these blessings are from above. I think if not for God, we may have all fallen apart long ago. This book is appropriate for all ages from parents to teenagers, from teachers to students.
Through the Holy Spirit, I am ready to share my words — and live a Godly life to testify to the world! If I can leave one impression, it is that God’s love is the same for everyone, but you must believe to receive.