From the hospital window I watched as multi-colored leaves danced and swirled with each gust of wind as the official first day of winter waltzed into town. The neighborhood park was dotted with a rainbow of colored jackets filled with energized toddlers taking advantage of the nip in the air. I closed my eyes and sighed as I relived the course of events that had occurred over the last few days. My nightmare began with a phone call.
“Mrs. Townley, I am sorry but there has been an accident and Justin has been taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital. It appears that a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, and totaled the car Justin and the Burke’s were travelling in.”
“Justin was so looking forward to going camping in the Ozarks with David and his family,” I thought as I stared at my comatose son hooked up to an array of monitors and machines.
The diagnosis of brain swelling from the closed head injury gave Justin a fifty percent chance of recovering.
We were informed that medically everything possible was being done; the rest was up to Justin and God.
“Justin, baby, momma is here,” I said caressing his arm.
“Good afternoon Mrs. Townley, I’m Stacey. I’m going to be Justin’s nurse this evening,” a new face in white exclaimed.
“Does he respond at all when you talk to him?” Stacey asked.
“No, not at all.”
“Well he can hear us, and when his brain swelling goes down, he’ll be awake and chatting away,” Stacey said with southern attitude as she squeezed my hand.
I nodded with tears in my eyes unable to speak.
The days comprised of rotating shifts by Justin’s bed talking and reading to him, while the nightshift transformed into a quiet time of prayer asking for God’s mercy and healing. By the second week of our new routine, with still no response from Justin, we had become weary and less hopeful for his recovery.
“Mrs. Townley , it’s David,” a small voice whispered.
”Oh I’m sorry David, I must have dozed off. How are you and your family doing?”
“We got discharged from the hospital last week, we’re ok. How’s Justin doing?”
“Well, he’s still not awake yet, David.”
“I brought him a present. Can I give it to him?”
“Of course, that was sweet of you.”
“Hey Justin, it’s me David. I gotcha somethin’. Do you want me to open it for you?”
David looked over at me and I nodded to open it for Justin.
“Look dude, it’s the fishing pole with the trolling reel you wanted. It’s just like mine. I even got you some extra lures. I’ll just leave it over here for you when you wake up, ok?”
Hours after David left, my mind began playing tricks on me.
“Did I just see that? Could it be? Was Justin beginning to move his toes?” I wondered as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.
By morning, I realized that I was not hallucinating, and Justin was now responding to command and breathing on his own. The day was filled with a parade of doctors and nurses checking his vital signs, brain waves, and respirations. As he improved, more and more machines were discontinued and exited his room, until finally he resembled my eight year old son again.
“Mom, Mom, wake up, wake up!”
“Justin, my baby you’re awake!”
“Yeah, but my legs feel a little stiff though, Mom. Hey where did David put my fishing pole? I can’t see it from my bed.”
I leaped up out of the hospital wannabe chair and cycled into bear hugs alternating with bursts of tears.
“Come on Mom—where is it?” Justin asked attempting to wiggle free from my grip.
“You actually heard David talk to you about the fishing pole?”
“I heard everything Mom. I listened to all the stories you read, and even heard you crying and praying at night. Nighttime was the coolest time though, ‘cause when you would start praying the angels would come and sing to me.”
“So Mom, where is my fishing pole? I wanna check it out.”
I said a prayer of thanksgiving during the scavenger hunt for the requested fishing pole, thanking God for returning my son to me, and sending a fleet of angels to comfort and protect him at night.
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