Judi Evans days adrienne bonnie gallery jp
Credit: John Paschal/JPI

The actress hopes to inspire others during these trying, trying times.

Like all of us, Days of Our Lives‘ Judi Evans (Bonnie) has noticed that 2020 is working hard to go down in history as the Worst. Year. Ever. She even recently implored her followers to be kinder and gentler online, lest Twitter and Instagram wind up permanently becoming antisocial media. Now she’s taken her attempts to make the world a sunnier place a step further, by recalling a dark moment that ultimately proved illuminating.

“Every day is a struggle sometimes… especially with these trying times,” she tweeted on October 21. “If it’s OK, I’d like to share a story about this year, [one] that I feel has shed some enlightenment for me, something that I think about sometimes when things get really bad.

“It’s long,” she added. We were not deterred. First, some backstory: In December 2019, Evans lost son Austin Luciano at age 23. In May of the following year, she was involved in a terrible horseback-riding accident that left her with several broken ribs, a broken collarbone, two chipped vertebrae and, on top of it all, a collapsed lung. Yeah — and this might be the understatement of the millennium — it was a lot. Now back to Evans and her story…

“So the months leading up to my accident were very dark,” wrote the actress. “I didn’t leave the couch or even shower for days at a time… I was swirling.

“My husband [Michael Luciano] started encouraging me to go back to work with the horses again,” she continued. “I hadn’t been riding since December. So finally I went riding on a Friday.”

It was a big step for Evans, a turning point. “It was an amazing ride… so awesome,” she recalled. “I felt free again, and for the first time in a long time, I had a little peace. Encouraged, I went out the next day.”

More: New roles for Kristian Alfonso, Wayne Northrop, more!

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But fate saw fit to challenge Evans anew. “I almost always ride alone,” she explained. It “gives me a [chance] to be quiet and listen. Then the accident happened…

“I was out on a riverbed trail, deep in a kinda canyon,” she went on. “I hit the ground, my whole chest exploded… I could see [my horse] running back and disappearing.”

That could’ve been all she wrote for the Emmy winner, a veteran of Guiding Light (as Beth), Another World (as Paulina) and Days of Our Lives (as Adrienne long before Bonnie). But “luckily, some wonderful people found me,” she said. “I couldn’t stand and was having a hard time breathing… The ambulance couldn’t get to us. I was below the cliffs about a mile away with heavy sand and a river to cross… I was going to have to walk to the ambulance — with one wonderful lady holding me up on my right.”

More: Days star’s tribute to a loved one lost

There was no other option. So Evans dug deep, and they started on their way. “I couldn’t look up or ahead to where we needed to go,” she remembered. “If I did, I knew I’d never make it; it would have been unsurmountable. So I kept my eyes down and just kept looking at my feet, one step at a time…

“I kept thinking, ‘One more step, one more step… ’” she continued. “We crossed that river, walked through all that heavy sand, and halfway up that steep hill… a couple of guys who saw our struggle drove down to meet us and drive me to the ambulance.”

More: Why it’s so hard to be Hope-less

Reflecting on the experience, Evans thought that maybe we could apply that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach to our difficult, current day-to-day. “It was a real-life ‘Don’t look at the mountain, just focus on the step by step… and be amazed at the kindness and beauty of strangers who help you along the way,’” she suggested. “The point is, we can do anything we put our mind to, even from the pit of darkness, one small step at a time, and there [are] beautiful, wonderful people out there to hold your hand along the way.

“Lean into it,” she concluded. “Keep going, keep trying, no matter how hard or painful.”

Thanks, Judi. A lot of us needed that reminder right about now. Oh, and hey, while you’re here, you might like to check out the below photo gallery, which runs down a list of the soap MVPs like Evans who have scored in two roles on the same show. It’s not as uplifting as her story, we’ll grant you — but it is a lotta fun.