2 years ago, my little brother Britton, who at the time was 16, was on a date for a high school dance and he and his date were riding in an ATV when they lost control and it rolled. My brother was ejected and the vehicle rolled directly over him crushing his skull. Everything that happened from that point on was nothing short of miraculous. My brother was in a position where he was surely coming up on his last breaths here on this earth. His date along with some of the other kids in the group, and bypassing strangers (whom we all consider our angels on this day) played a crucial role in keeping him here with us until the life flight could arrive to their remote location. I could go on and on about everything that took place that day, and all of the tiny miracles that amounted to the saving of Britt's life. He spent 3 months in the ICU under a coma. His brain had swelled so much that had it gone a single millimeter more he wouldn't be here. For 3 months his fragile and broken body lied in a hospital bed unresponsive. I remember falling asleep next to his bed to the sound of the machine that breathed for him. I remember waking up instantly every time the monitors started beeping irregularly. The way we would all close our eyes and turn away when they would move or maneuver his body in any way. Or praying that every time they took him down for a CT scan or MRI that he would come back. I remember watching drip by drip the fluid pumping in and out of his brain, and watching his breathing tube clamp open and shut every time he took a breath. There were all these little things, hundreds of them. That consumed every bit of me. They were hard days. Going to bed at night and not knowing if we'd get a next day. My heart dropping every time I'd hear the phone ring. Scary days. Hearing the flatline on the heart monitor and dozens of nurses and doctors rushing into his room to revive him. Seeing my my mom's heart breaking from the inside out as she watched her boy hang on to his life by a thread. Listening to the way Ledger's voice would shake as he'd hold his big brothers hand tight and tell him to get better fast so they could play catch. Or the way Greyson would stand in the corner of the room, too afraid to get close becuase he didn't understand what was going on. Watching my dad try so hard to hold back his tears, but a few always slipping away. Everything was constant, it was like we were in this dream and all of our feelings and senses were being magnified. They were also good days, happy days full of blessings and love. Walking into the waiting room to find hundreds of friends and family waiting anxiously for news, and opportunities to serve us. Being there just to be there. Hundreds, everyday, for 3 months straight. The doctors and nurses that were literally sent from above to help and be with us during every second of every day. Incredible individuals who undoubtably had the skill and the spirit to save my sweet brother, and to assure and comfort my family and I in our hardest moments.
Somedays it was as if absolute fear crept inside of my bones and shook the very core of me. Not knowing if my brother would ever wake up. Not knowing if I would ever get back the Britt I so loved and adored. Not knowing or understanding how and why this had to happen to him, or how we could go on leading a normal life without our sweet boy if it were to come to that. There were times when I would doubt, times when I would question my faith, and my God. Moments where I felt like I had never experienced such sorrow and darkness. But then, somehow the light always found its way through. It was necessary to feel all of these feelings and emotions I think. Looking back on it I'm not ashamed of the fear or the doubt, becuase it paved the way for much better, stronger and more lasting feelings to mend and fix the broken and hurt parts of me. The Lord's hand put everything that needed fixing back together. I witnessed too many miracles to doubt that God was ever so present. I saw and felt things that touched my heart in ways I cant explain through words. I felt the love he had for my family and me, as well as my sweet brother. The power of prayer moved mountains for us, I know that he was conscious of our needs as well as my brothers. I know he heard and answered every single prayer from all over the world. I felt the love he had for my brother, so strongly. I didn't know a love like that existed. So deep and unconditional. I could feel the love he had for me and my family as we went through the high's and low's of each day, constantly having to lean on the strength of the atonement for comfort and peace. I gained a new appreciation and understanding of the atonement in a way I didn't know was applicable. Whenever the fear, anger, or sadness would creep in, the faith I had in God's plan and his power to perform and deliver miracles would immediately shut those feelings out. It was incredible, given the situation of my brothers health, that I could feel with such conviction that he was going to make it. That he was going to be okay. How lucky we are to have a merciful and loving God who is all knowing and all capable. I held tight to the testimony I had of God's plan during this time, and it always brought me the peace and clarity I needed.
Britton eventually reached a point in which all of his vitals were stable and he could be transferred to a rehab unit. He was still in a coma, but became responsive to commands. He was in the Neuro Rehab unit for close to 3.5 months. In his time there he regained consciousness and came out of his comatose state. He began physical therapy, where he would relearn to do everything he once did so easily. I remember some of those first weeks, learning how to give a thumbs up or thumbs down and how to shake his head yes or no. I remember the first time he was able to sit up all by himself, that took him weeks and weeks to learn. Some of the hardest days were watching him struggle time after time trying to get his body to perform the most basic functions. As hard and as disappointing as it was, he continued to try and work harder. I wish i could describe the spirit he had during those days. So determined and strong. The day we left the neuro unit was the day that Britt took his first steps on his own. I had never felt so proud of someone in my life.
When Britt was finally able to come home he was in a wheelchair and still had to be hand fed. He had to be helped in the shower, in the bathroom, getting dressed, you name it. He couldn't do anything for himself. As the days and months passed by he continued therapy every day, becoming stronger and stronger. Still facing a lot of up's and down's, he continued to progress despite the setbacks.
2 years later and here we are. Honestly, i cant believe it has been 2 whole years. To look back on the day it happened, and to see where he is now. I didn't know if we would ever get to this point, but how incredibly blessed we are to be here. Britton has come so far from that night I walked into his room and saw him for the first time after his accident. All i could see was a lifeless boy I couldn't recognize because of the trauma. When I look at Britt today I see a handsome, healthy, fun loving, and courageous man. He truly has been through the worst of it. He has faced incredible adversity. Yet, he stands with such strength.
The aftermath of a brain injury is something you cannot be prepared for. It is something you cannot predict, or know how to handle it when it happens. To say things have only improved and gotten better over the last couple of years wouldn't be entirely true. There are days and weeks that have been very comparable if not harder than those months in the ICU. Like i said in my last post, it is a different kind of hard. Britton's brain was very severely damaged. The effects it has had on him can sometimes be very difficult to handle and cope with. People always ask if he is the same Britt as before the accident. Absolutely not, but he also isn't a different person either. His injury makes it hard for him to always be in control of certain things and aspects of his life. But I cant help but look into his green eyes and see the Britt I've always known. He makes us laugh, so hard and smile so big. But he has his moments, as we all do, where things aren't a walk in the park. Everyday I thank the heavens for my mom and dad. Those two are truly heaven sent. The perfect examples of patience and christlike love. They have their hands more than full most of the days, and somehow continue to love and build our family up through it all. There's days i feel like our family is on the verge of falling completely a part, and days I feel like we are stronger than ever becuase of all of it. Britt knows and understands what has happened to him. He get's that things are different, and that he is different. This has proven to be the most difficult thing for him and his progression towards healing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I will never pretend like I understand his situation, what he is going through and what it must feel like. But I know that he is going to have hard days, and that is okay. We have come to agreement with that, and we handle them as best as we know how. But he has and will continue to have more good days, i know that. He is working so hard towards recovery, in all aspects. He tries his best to be positive and happy, and find the good in things. I can see his desire to succeed and i admire it so much. I'm so lucky to call such an amazing boy my brother.
We sure have come far the last couple of years. Not a day goes by that I don't think about where we once were, where we are now and where we hope to go. I know that he will continue to grow and learn over time and that he can achieve anything and be anyone he wants to be. The love and support our family has received has completely changed our lives. I know Britt wouldn't be where he is today without all of your service and prayers. I still feel overwhelmed when I think back on the incredible amount of love, friendship and kindness that was shown to us, and continues to be to this day. Thank you for never giving up on him and thank you for always Believing for our Britt <3