It's been a long couple of weeks. 11 days ago my son was coming home from a field trip on a bus full of 6th graders and as they were approaching a construction zone the bus driver slammed into the back of a Semi truck that was slowing down.
No one was killed or critically injured - and that is a blessing. My son and one other child were severely injured however and now it's all about moving forward with life and making this experience something to grow from rather than be overwhelmed by.
My 12 year old son had a compound fracture to his Tibia and a broken fibular bone as well. His injuries were so severe he was airlifted to a trauma center where he underwent emergency surgery the night of the crash and another smaller surgery 3 days later. His "good leg" was also badly injured, but not broken. (thankfully!) However, this made getting up and trying to walk on crutches extremely painful for him.
Watching him in agony was more than my heart could take at times, but it also shored up my determination to help make this a growing experience for our family. We began immediately by focusing on gratitude - thankful to be alive, thankful that he will walk again, thankful that everyone will eventually be ok, thankful for the people who stopped to assist, thankful for the amazing flight nurses that made it possible for me to put him on that helicopter while I drove 90 minutes away to reunite with my baby. SO many things to be grateful for - we continuously speak of the good that came from this.
When he works through the pain in his body, he envisions his bones and tissues working to heal, working to give him mobility again. When the sadness and anger rise up we acknowledge them for having a place and for being justifiable, but we choose to release that and continue to move forward in the spirit of gratitude and healing. We have learned to 'observe" our emotions rather than be overtaken by them. This has given him the calm and strength needed to adjust to life again. Even as he lay injured in that ER and waiting for the helicopter he showed amazing courage. I came into the room not knowing what to expect - the scene was chaotic and he looked at me and said "It's ok mom I just need to have a little surgery and I'll be fine". He was laying there with covers over his whole body, his teeth chattering from the pain/adrenaline. One little tear hung in the corner of his eyes and I could feel my heart breaking but I smiled at him and told him "I know you will baby". He put his oxygen mask back on and just looked at me and I used everything I had in me not to lose it.
Despite being in the most God awful place emotionally, somehow I was able to be calm and a strange serenity surrounded me and I just knew - it really was going to be alright. It was going to be hell, but it was also going to turn into something positive.
Each day in that hospital got a bit better. His surgeries went well - that's the hardest thing in the world to send a baby into surgery, but I just envisioned myself comforting him and repeating to myself "all is well - all is right with the world".
Every day he takes more steps. The first day he couldn't lift the full leg cast off the floor, 11 days later and he is able to get himself up and take 20 - 30 steps with his crutches before he gets too tired to continue. Each day has been 100% better than the day before it and we move forward knowing and being grateful for the fact that tomorrow will be better than today.
We have a long road ahead - months in a cast, physical therapy, and our whole lives have been turned upside down, but we know we will make it and Sean is my hero for his amazing resolve and willingness to not let this ruin his summer or his life.
One of the first things he received was an art kit from his art teacher and a beautiful journal from his grandparents. He is using this to help him process his emotions, concerns, hopes, and fears. It's been a great tool for him and I am sure that it will be a great tool as he goes through counseling to heal as well.
One Day at a Time
We now value the "here and now" more than ever. We have fully realized that when you face a struggle if you focus on what you can do today - tomorrow will take care of itself. It can be hard to resist the natural urge to feel that your standing at the bottom of Everest looking up. Healing well and fast only happens when we focus on what we can do "now". Each day he pushes himself a little further, he opens up more to talk, and he refocuses his mind to stay positive. If he was dwelling on 5 months in a cast and therapy - it would deplete that initiative and cause him to spiral into the sadness and frustration. When we focus consciously on "now" and on "healing" there is no room for sabotaging thoughts to hold him back.