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June 6, 2003

This was no ordinary day …

In fact, it was the day that changed my life.

It was a Friday morning and the weather was gorgeous! I could tell by the way the sun unrelentingly peeked through the closed curtains.

“Get up.”

I could hear the sunlight calling; “it is much too beautiful a day to spend in bed!”

Great.

“Boo-Boo, Leaky and Pheli! Time to get up for school! You’re gonna be late!”

Normally, I would awaken them with a song I wrote strictly for morning alarm purposes … Get up! Everybody get up! Get up! Everybody get up! But this was no regular ol’ school day. This was the last Friday of the school year. Only four more days of school and then all the children would be home for the summer. Oh, woe is me! I didn’t have time for a song and dance routine this morning. They had to get out of here! Bummer! I already had one son who was home with me for the whole day, and one in “pre-K” who only went to school for four hours a day. The prospect of having all four children home all day was simply bringing me down.

Darn this school district! Why don’t we have year round schooling like other schools do? This is messing my schedule up!

I loved having the first part of the day with Quaz, the baby. He was a handful and needed some “be at home alone with Mommy” time. He was at the terrible two stage (which, by the way, he has yet to grow out of), and he required my one on one attention.

The first child up, as always, was Pheli. He stumbles into my room because he has failed to open his eyes. Hot on his tail was Quaz, his shadow.

“G’morning, Mommy,” they said almost harmoniously.

“G’morning, Babies. Pheli, are you ready for school today?”

“Yes. We are going to walk around the school for a parade today. It’s gonna be fun,” he said. At last his eyes opened in sheer bliss at the thought of marching around the block.

“I want a parade,” Quaz said poutingly.

A parade, I thought. It looks like a wonderful day for a parade. Maybe I’ll take Quaz and join Pheli’s class in the leisurely stroll.

Just then Leaky comes through the door. I noticed his glasses were bent, which let me know he fell asleep with them on again.

“G’morning, Ma,” he yawned.

“G’morning, son. Let me see your glasses. How’d you sleep?”

“Good.”

Leaky was never one for many words. He said what was needed and not much else.

I straightened his glasses’ frame and handed them back to him.

“Son, I want you to get ready for school. Go in the bathroom and take your clothes off. Turn the shower on. Get in the tub. Put soap on the washcloth. Wash your entire body, then stand under the water and rinse off. Dry yourself off, and then get dressed, ok?”

“Yes ma’am,” he said., as he left the room.

“And son? Don’t forget to brush your teeth.”

“I won’t.”

I had to be specific with Leaky. If not, the job would not get done. He was seven years old and diagnosed with ADHD. (I’ll write more on that at another time.) So he paid little or no attention.

As Leaky shut the door behind him, I could hear footsteps from the third floor.

“G’morning, Boo,” I called out.

“Morning, Mom! Only four more days of getting up early, YES!” She was so enthusiastic about it! “Aren’t you happy, Mom?”

“Ecstatic,” I said sarcastically. “Woo-hoo!”

Boo-Boo needed no instructions. She was nine years old and knew what to do in the mornings. She knew how to do it and did it quite well. She’d shower, pick out her own clothes, and coordinate her outfit with her jewelry and shoes. She would even help to get her brothers ready, and took the responsibility of being my only daughter and first born child very seriously. She was always willing to lend a hand.

Everyone was finally dressed and out the door promptly by eight o’clock. Quaz and I had a wonderful day. We had breakfast, watched an educational video, did some writing, and walked in the parade with Pheli. We had a great time. Soon, school was over and everyone was back home.

Around 6 p.m., I decided to take a ride with a friend. When we got back around 7:30 p.m., there were fire trucks, policemen, and people standing on our block.

I walked over to a neighbor and asked what had happened.

“Your daughter,” she said, “your daughter just got hit by a car!”

The words hung in the air for a moment … floating … your daughter was hit by a car … and like a ton of bricks, they came crashing down on me!

“WHAT?”

Before she could say anything, I had run into my house to tell everyone what had happened. When I got inside, it was dark … and cold. The blinds were drawn. I couldn’t get my thoughts together.

“Husband,” I yelled through the darkness. My head began to spin … I heard the words over and over again … your daughter … hit by a car …

I gotta do something.

“Ma’am, your daughter has been life flown to the medical center,” he said.

Surely there must be some mistake. MY daughter?

My thoughts were interrupted when my friend offered to take me to my child.

“Oh God,” I prayed, “please let her be alive.”

The ride to the hospital took an eternity! Ten miles had seemed like a hundred! No one had their cell phones on. Why can’t I reach anyone? What’s going on?

When we arrived at the hospital, my husband came to me immediately.

“It’s pretty bad, Baby,” he said. “She was bleeding from her head and ears … I couldn’t stop the bleeding …”

I can’t even tell you my reaction at that point … my whole body went numb. I remember screaming and completely panicking. I remember running down the hall to the room where she was and holding her, rocking her … but truth is, I did none of those things. I sat down and waited. A lifetime had passed, and still I waited, praying. I remember being surrounded by family and friends. My husband appeared to be so in control of everything. He was my rock. I don’t know how long it was before the doctors came and spoke with us … when they did, I braced myself for the worst news possible …

“She has suffered severe brain injuries resulting in four skull fractures, two frontal lobe, and one occipital and temporal. She has two broken bones in her left leg, a fractured left shoulder … and she is in a coma. She’s on life support because her body has gone into shock. She suffered a seizure and stopped breathing but the paramedics were able to stabilize her. She is in the pediatric intensive care unit in critical condition.”

I remember hearing questions … good questions about the prognosis for my daughter. “Is the damage permanent? Has the bleeding stopped?” I asked myself “Who’s doing all that talking? How soon can we see her? Does she need any surgeries?” It was at that moment, I realized it was me! My motherly instincts had taken over. Get it together, Von, your daughter needs you.

They allowed us to go and see her. The very sight of her at that moment sent chills through my body. She was on life support. There were tubes and wires everywhere; the machines were beeping. There was a maxi pad taped to the side of her head because she was bleeding so profusely from her ear. It was strange; I expected her to have cuts and bruises on her face, swelling … but she had none of those. She was intubated, but other than that she simply looked as if she were sleeping. Sleeping beauty, I remember thinking, except this time more than a handsome prince was needed to awaken her.

I held her hand and whispered in her ear, “Mommy’s here, Baby. It’s gonna be ok.” Although I said the words, I had my doubts. For eleven days, I stayed by her side; leaving the hospital once for about two hours. My sisters stayed with me, only leaving daily to shower and change. For this, I will be forever grateful.

Over the next four days I learned so much about head injuries. She had experienced brain bleeding, swelling, and bruising of the brain. The doctors eventually requested to give her a blood transfusion. My husband and I refused the administering of blood based on the Bible teaching that we are to abstain from blood because of its sanctity. We did, however, recommend that epogen be given for the lost of red blood cells, and also factor 7, which promotes clotting so the bleeding would stop. The doctors had never used this method and were very skeptical about it. Just when they thought surgery was needed, they noticed an increase the red blood cells and a decrease in bleeding. The decision was made to wait twenty-four hours for any results.

Her physical recovery was rapid after that. She awoke from her coma on day five. Day six she was listed in guarded condition. Day seven, stable condition. She was then transported to the rehabilitation unit for physical, occupational, and speech therapies. On the eleventh day, she was sent home. She was donning a new cast, crutches, and wheelchair, but she was home.

When she arrived, she was surprised by family and friends who had gathered together in celebration of her return. Cards, gifts, and balloons were everywhere. We got to see the laughing, bright eyed girl having the time of her life … a life that was almost cut short.

We had no idea what the future held for her. Her medical prognosis was a full recovery. “We have to see what manifests itself mentally,” the doctor said. And see we shall …

I just couldn’t fathom it … she’s always so careful, so responsible …! I grabbed the phone to call someone … but who? I frantically dialed, but could not get any of the numbers right. I threw the phone down and darted out the door to the closest policeman. I screamed! I remember thinking, I gotta get up and get the kids off to school. School! The very thought of it made me jump up and head for the hallway.

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