For my family, 2016 ended with a reminder of just how quickly and unexpectedly life can change. Our year was filled with many wonderful blessings, but none greater than my son’s recovery from respiratory failure during our recent trip to NYC.
I won’t soon forget the moment my son stopped breathing in my husband’s arms. I can still feel the hard restaurant floor under me as I knelt by his side. I recall the frantic scene around me as my husband yelled for the ambulance to come “now!”, and as strangers ran through the restaurant hollering for a doctor. Mostly, I can feel the crushing weight of the moment bearing down on me. Fear led to despair; despair led to shock.
Those feelings held grasp over me for several days as I sat by my son’s bedside just staring at him; my little boy hooked up to tubes and machines. As he laid there under a cloud of sedation, I kept thinking – how could this be happening?! Just hours earlier he was ice skating with the holiday crowd at Bryant Park and smiling for this photo.
While I felt helpless, I didn’t feel hopeless. I knew in my heart that this picture of the three of us taken just hours earlier at Rockefeller Center was not going to be our last. My faith, and knowing my son has faith, is what kept me strong. God has big plans for my boy; it was not his time to go.
Shortly before we left for NYC, I passed on my childhood Bible to my son. He was so excited that he brought it with him on the trip. While I sat by his side, I began reading him verses from his Bible, trusting that he could hear me. I prayed over him and played his favorite songs – mostly Christian, but some Hip Hop too. It was just as much for me as it was for him; I wanted him to know I was there.
There was a moment when he briefly came out of sedation and opened his eyes and responded to our voices by nodding his head. At that point, deep in my heart I knew he was going to be fine. And, by the grace of God, he is almost fully healed and improving each day.
My little boy is a huge New York Giants fan, and his favorite player is Odell Beckham, Jr. A good friend, who was at the restaurant with us when all hell broke loose, brought this jersey to the hospital while my son was still sedated.
A few days later, my husband and I stood at the foot of the bed cheering my son to breathe on his own as he was being extubated, and we held up the OBJ jersey as motivation. He was overcome with emotion when he saw the jersey. Tears were flowing down our cheeks as we watched the team of doctors and nurses bring our son back to us He spent the next few days enjoying music from a guitarist, balloons from friends, and thanking the doctors who saved his life. I can’t say enough about the extraordinary care he received at Brooklyn Hospital.
Six days after checking into the Pediatric ICU, we were released. Now we just needed to get back to Florida. We rented a car and began the road to recovery. My son spent most of the time in the car sleeping. After all, his little body was exhausted. My husband and I spent a much of the drive reflecting on what we just experienced. There were plenty of tears. But mostly there was just extraordinary gratitude for answered prayers. As I sit here typing it still seems surreal.
The trip was time well spent creating valuable family memories. We spent a day in D.C. touring the monuments and visiting the National Museum of Natural History. The museum offered plenty of fun-filled activities to help us forget our worries – like handling large, creepy insects, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches (followed by a bath in hand sanitizer). Surprisingly I held the cockroach longer than my guys did.
After D.C., we traveled south and spent a day in Savannah, showing our son the charming city where we took our wedding vows eleven years earlier. We dined at The Pirates House – the oldest house in Savannah. Much to my son’s delight (and insistence) we took a ghost tour that took us to a rum cellar and a museum known for ghosts. While my husband and I did not see any ghosts, my son says he saw something unusual – and we believe him.
Although we are back at home, we are still on the road to recovery. We’re slowly returning to some normalcy with doctor visits in between. The three of us will never be the same, and I think that’s a good thing. After my brain surgeries, we began living our lives differently, focusing on memories instead of things. This experience was another reminder that our time together is truly priceless.
Peace and blessings,