Surround yourself with the ones you love. That’s what I’m learning. Because life is too short not to.
This afternoon, we went to visit our nephew in the hospital for the first time since his accident. We were both anxious all morning. We knew it was going to be hard and no matter how much we prepared ourselves for it, we still didn’t feel ready. But we wanted to.
Before we left we picked up a few things to bring to him. While he can’t enjoy them now (he’s fully sedated) we thought he’d like them when he wakes up.
The drive to Baltimore took longer than expected and felt like forever. We finally pulled up to Johns Hopkins and the reality began to sink in.
We checked in at the visitors’ desk and got our bracelets then walked back to the PICU. When we walked in we were greeted by my mother in law and sister in law. My sister in law then walked us back to my nephew’s room. Walking up to the room felt a little bit surreal. I could see the little boy laying in the bed from several feet away, but it didn’t seem like it was him. Maybe because every time I’ve seen him he’s been full of energy, life, adventure, spirit and smiles. This child was still. In my mind it couldn’t be him. We walked into the room and were greeted by his nurse. She was very kind and warm to us, asking us if we had any questions. I hadn’t yet had a chance to look at him. When we were done briefly speaking to the nurse, we turned our eyes to Desmond. My heart sank. The beautiful child I’m used to seeing was practically unrecognizable. Mostly just because his face is very swollen (especially his eyes) and his head was partially shaved. But also because my sweet little nephew was hooked up to every tube and monitor you can possibly think of. Not to mention a neck brace and a breathing tube. It was heart wrenching.
We put the puppy we bought him on his bed along with the other toys, books and stuffed animals other people have dropped off. He was only allowed to hold one stuffed animal and that position had already been filled. We were then able to hold his hand and talk to him. It was a little awkward with his nurse there, but it was nice to be able to touch him and be close to him. I felt so numb the whole time we were there. Having a hard time believing that all of this is real. He just looked so small, vulnerable. So not who he is.
We stayed for a few minutes then went back to the parents’ lounge to meet back up with my mother and sister in law and our other nephew and niece. We went out with them to run a few errands and have dinner. Afterwards we drove over to my mom’s house for dessert, since she isn’t too far from where we were. Both of my brothers and my brother’s girlfriend were there and it was nice to spend time with everyone during this difficult time.
I know this has been a long post, but this is in the front of my mind right now. If you’d like to stay updated on my nephew’s story, you can visit his CaringBridge page. And if it isn’t too much to ask, please keep my nephew in your thoughts and prayers. Also, thank you to all those who have been messaging me on Twitter and Facebook, sending me emails and text messages and calling me. Your care and support means the world to me!
(Above 4 photos by Tom Smarch Photography)