Thursday, October 2, 2014

Unplanned Time with My Son

Where to start?  One day, I was trying to adjust to idea I was in the waning days of summer with autumn fast approaching, and the next day, I was on a plane flying to Pennsylvania to be at son's side after he had been involved in an accident that nearly took his life.  On Sunday afternoon, September 21, a message was left on my phone from a nurse at a hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania, telling me that my son had been in accident. "He's ok," she said, but I needed to call because he wished to speak with me.  My heart stopped when I heard the message.  Then, for another twenty agonizing minutes I could not reach the nurse because she was with my son who was having a MRI done.  No one could tell me what had happened because of HIPAA rules.  

Finally, I was able to connect with the nurse and more importantly with my son.  He had suffered a terrible trauma to his brachial plexus on his right side when he was cut by glass.  He is fortunate to be alive.  He received seven units of blood.  Surgery was performed to save his life.  In the process, somewhere along the way, damage was done to his nerves on the right arm in the brachial plexus area.  I think we all were in shock those first few days.  Certainly Jon was.  Certainly, I was.  

Two days later, On September 23, I flew from Colorado to Pennsylvania on a one way ticket.  I wanted to leave the date of my departure open.  By the time I got here, he'd been discharged from the hospital right from ICU.  I guess at that point I became his trauma nurse.  

For three days, I tried to navigate the unknowable medical field waters in search of aftercare treatment. My son was and is paralyzed from the shoulder down on the right side of his body.  He had an incision that is about seven inches long and contains over twenty stitches and staples.  Not being from this area, and with him being new to the area, I had no idea where to start in finding the help I knew he would need to heal.  For three days, I tried to get him into doctors and therapy.  Finally, this week it all began to come together.  We were able to connect with an occupational therapist whom I think will really be a source of great help and encouragement for him on this journey.  We also found a straight shooter for a primary care doctor whom I think will put together a plan to get him into the specialists he may need in his recovery.  We are optimistic that he will recover the use of his arm.  

Jonathan amazes me with his determination.  I'm not surprised.  He is one amazing kid.  He has had many adventures in his life.  Perhaps, he has lived life a bit too much on the edge.  He's always been daring and ready to push the envelope.  

He returned to work on the following Monday, September 29. He is teaching a full load of classes at the university.  I am here until next week trying to support him in any way I can.  Mostly, I'm just being mom and trying to keep body and soul together while he adapts to his new normal.  I am grateful to have this time with him.  These are treasured moments.  I get to be a participant in my son's life.  I get to observe his determination and hard work as he works so diligently on his classes.  I am able to be here with him in the hard parts of this journey when we can share what is in our hearts.  

On last Saturday, the sun was shining and we went to a nearby park for a walk.  I felt so blessed to walk in these Pennsylvania woods with my son and his son.  

Gratitude: walking in the woods on a sunny early fall day with my son and grandson.  

I gather up these memories and store them in my heart.  I may be here because of an unexpected and unwanted event, but I am here with my boys and for that I am grateful.  I also am most grateful that my son is here standing upright and able to show me this place so soon after his accident.  Youth and good health is on his side.  

From the shadows into the light, we follow the path we find ourselves on.  

Sometimes the paths of life are not as well laid out as the one we see in this photo.  In those cases, I always think of a path that is new to me.  Parts of it are rocky and obscure.  Other parts have waters rushing across.  I'm not sure how the path will end.  I sometimes feel very lost. That is when I think of this American Indian story:
 "You are deep in the woods, and you think you are lost; stop, look at the trees, the rocks, rivers-they are not lost.  They are here.  You are not lost, you are here."

Last night, Jon's son Atticus came to spend the night.  I was quite touched to see old Oso in Atticus' suitcase.  I gave this bear, as is my tradition, to Atticus on his first Christmas.  I must say no first Christmas bear of any other grandchild has seen the adventures this bear has seen.  He lived in Colorado to begin his life.  He then moved from there to Boston.  This dear bear, Oso, already rather travel worn, made his way to Bangladesh.  After a year and a half there, Oso, always at the side of Atticus, flew over the North Pole and home to the United States.  After living in Boston, he made his way to Pennsylvania.  I was glad to see this old friend from my grandson's earliest days.

Life seems complete when I have my kids by my side.  It is good being here cooking meals, driving my son to school on some days, he drives on others.  I try to keep the house running as he keeps up with his school work.  He tires easily and comes home exhausted and ready to have a big rest before the evening activities, but each day he seems stronger.

I will fly home next week.  I hate to leave.  My former husband and father of my children will come to spend some time with Jon the day before I leave.  He will be here for the next leg on this journey. 

It is so hard when your baby chicks grow up and leave home.  They seem to go to such far away places.  The miles separate us, but in this day of modern technology, we are only a text or a phone call away.  For that, I am also grateful.  

In the end, as a mom I've learned I must ultimately leave my children in hands that are much greater than mine.  They are all prayed over, and prayed over some more.  Whether they believe in my prayers or not, that does not matter.  I pray for them.  Each of them.  Everyday.  And, I thank God that I was blessed with each dear life.  Being a mom is hard, even when they are all grown up, but being a mom, I also know the rich blessings that I have in being a part of the journey that each child is on.  Their stories are intertwined with mine.  They are part of the story of my life.  We walk down this path together.  


  1. Oh, Sally - I got chills reading this. Your son is so blessed to be alive and to have you for a mother. I liked seeing that well-loved bear, too. You and your family will be in my thoughts. I will hope for speedy healing. Safe trip home!

  2. Oh, Sally, I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to get that phone message and then to learn that your son was so injured. What a miracle it is that, only a week later, he was back at work. And how wonderful it is that you have been able to be with him and help him take the first steps on the road to recovery. I loved the old Indian saying. It's such a vivid reminder to live fully savoring each moment, each person, each time of our lives. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Jon as he recovers.

  3. My breath stopped for a moment reading this. Sally, you are such a wonderful mother and just so incredibly strong--but I do so hope that that strength does not keep being tested. You and your family are in my prayers.

  4. What a traumatic situation to deal with, Sally, but it sounds like you have faced it well with courage and faith. I am so glad you were able to spend this recovery time with him and that there are good memories in the midst of such a difficult situation. I hope he will have a full recovery.

  5. What a frightening thing to go through. You son seems to be recovering amazingly but it is good he had his Mom to easy him back. Also good that his Dad will be there for him also. You two make a good team.
    I will put him in my prayers for a complete recovery.

  6. Good that you were there for him. Safe journey home.

  7. I had no idea. What a terrible thing to happen, but what a good outcome from such a trauma. Yes, I am convinced that prayer helps, but more than that, a visit from your mom is even more priceless. Thank you for sharing this, Sally, and I also send my prayers. Hugs, too. :-)

  8. When you wrote "I must ultimately leave my children in greater hands than mine," I couldn't help but think we all have to do that -- my mom used to say "Let go and let God." I cannot believe the terror you experienced and the chaos and I'm so grateful you were able to pick up and head out to be with Jon. I suspect that walk in the woods and all the other moments were all the sweeter, all the more real and the gratitude more intense, given the events of the days leading up to it. It is such a reminder that we live our life and our love day to day and that in doing so we leave behind no unfinished business, no words of love and caring locked in our heart.

    This recovery is indeed a miracle. He sounds like a strong man. He'll make that recovery. We're all behind you.

  9. When it rains it pours. But then they're also miracles. Perhaps in this case one has already happened... Our best wishes to your son and you Sally....

  10. So glad you've been able to be with your son during this challenging time. Lovely photos,...and I enjoyed hearing about Atticus's bear!

  11. This was a hard thing to experience, especially after everything that's happened in your life. Take a deep breadth and find some respire soon; life doesn't give us too many breaks.

  12. Hi Friend, That is written SO well. You ought to consider writing a book sometime of your story --since you have gone through so much that needs to be told.

    I'm so glad you could be there for Jon. My middle son is divorced --and if something were to happen to him, I would probably be the one to be there to help.

    Sounds like Jon is doing well overall. Bless his heart. How is that arm and right side now? Is he able to use his hand? Is he right-handed? I'm sure it's hard for him. Glad he can get back to work though.

    I'm sure your Sweetie in Colorado will be glad to have you home. AND--even though you had a great time with your son (I would love that kind of quality time with any of my sons), I'm sure you will be glad to get home also.

    God Bless YOU and Jon. (Cute story about the little stuffed dog.)

  13. Oh Sally, I had no idea!!!! How scared you must have been! What a blessing you are to your Son, that you are able to help him. Life can change so quickly from one moment to another. I am so happy that he is alive and well. Thank God!

    I will pray that your Son Heals quickly and is back to his old self soon.
    Blessings, Joanne

  14. what a scary experience, happy to hear your son is recovering so well and can return to work. What a blessing for him to have his mom there to help out. Prayers do help!

  15. One could almost wish we didn't have children: we worry about them every minute of every day. Silly and futile wish. We just cherish every precious moment.

  16. First let me say how glad I am that your son survived his accident and that he is well on the way to recovery. Being back at work may be tiring but at least it’s a sign of normalcy returning.

    I am so sorry that you had to have another dreadful experience, but in true Sally fashion you triumphed and overcame.

    May your strength and love remain a beacon of light for your family and all who know and admire you.

  17. How scary for you both. Blessings on your boy and may he heal well.

  18. Oh dear, how awful. I wish him a speedy or at least a complete recovery.

  19. First time visitor here...what a first post to read. So glad your son survived, and glad you could be with him. And I really enjoyed that last paragraph.

  20. What a terrifying and dangerous accident, and how good your dear son is recovering and that you are there to help him. Cute stuffed animal you made for your grandson, and well traveled. I pray for complete healing for your son.

  21. Oh Sally, I'm so glad you had your blog attached to your email. It's been so long since I've caught up with the news, and this was heart stopping news. I'm so glad that you were able to fly out and be with your son and grandson. The pictures are breathtakingly lovely.

    It will be so good to see you in person this weekend!
    Love, Sandi

  22. oh brother, I think I just commented on my daughter's account. Sheesh! I guess she used my computer recently. I don't know how to change it and she isn't home to ask!!!

  23. Yes we are fortunate to share a history with our children and yes it's hard when the move very far away. And it feels good when one can assist them if needed.

  24. Your son looks amazing in these photos to have had the serious accident and injury. He must be very healthy to bounce back and return to work in only 9 days. You are indeed blessed in that respect.

    Glad to hear your hubby is enjoying his new job so much. And I read something, maybe FB, that you too are working again? What a lot of changes in your life in such a short time.

  25. Your Jon sounds so much like my Jon who also pushes the envelope. My daughter was also in a car accident when she was going to college so many years ago. I remember getting the call before she was pushed into MRI. The car had actually rolled over into the cornfield. Unlike your Jon, she came through with just a bump on her head. What a terrible time that was for you, Sally!

    I'm so glad you were able to take care of him and make sure he was treated carefully.

    Isn't it amazing that both our Jons were in Bangladesh?

  26. Well...I am late checking in and I have to say once again how powerful I find your writing to be!! God bless you! Hope all is well otherwise. Hang in there.


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