An Ominous Anniversary

Today (from 2010)  is the last day of the hardest year of my life (at least I hope it is my last hard year). One year ago today, I received that late-night phone call that all parents dread, informing me that my son had been in a nearly fatal motorcycle wreck and was on his way via Life Flight to Denver to our state’s primary head trauma hospital. After a nauseating three hour drive to Denver, Rich and I arrived at the hospital right after midnight just as they were wheeling Hunter into surgery to release the pressure on his brain. It was questionable if he would make it through the night, but he did. And then he went on to defy all odds in his recovery.


Nine days in a coma, followed by an extensive facial reconstructive surgery and another 7 days of unconsciousness; three weeks in the Neuro ICU and another 2 weeks on the neuro floor are all a blur to me now. Hunter had smashed every bone in his face, had several skull fractures and a severe traumatic brain injury; fortunately his bodily injuries were comparatively minor. Back then it seemed like my life was indelibly changed and might never get back to normal again. Now, 12 months later, I am so very proud of Hunter’s strength and resilience, his ability and determination to heal and his courage in facing what for some would be an insurmountable condition. As Hunter is fond of saying, he turns one year old today after the first year of his new life, and I have to say that my life has indeed returned to normal with only a few extra wrinkles to show for it.


Even though Hunter has gotten better each week since last September and has had a steady uphill climb in his recovery, it has been a long and difficult year. Lots of pain and confusion, uncertainty and loneliness, fear, frustration and anger. But Hunter’s strength and determination has been incredible and as impossible as this seemed a year ago, it looks like he is well on his way to a full recovery. He is living independently, getting stronger every day and it won’t be long before he is able to return to work, at least part time while he continues to build his strength. Eventually he hopes to return to firefighting, his biggest passion in life.


We have been so fortunate to have incredible family and friends that have supported us throughout this ordeal. I am deeply indebted to my sisters, my brother and my parents for their undying support and willingness to be there for us at a moment’s notice. And to my husband for supporting me and propping me up when I needed it and letting me fall back on him when I crashed. To my close friends and dedicated staff who watched over me like a mother hen and kept me going in the most difficult of times. The people in Hunter’s community and his firefighting buddies have all reached out and provided crucial support. Although the tendency is to feel very alone when you are going through something like this, we have always been surrounded by people who care and have been there for us when we needed it.


I have also had the concern and support of so many people around the country, some of whom I don’t really know personally but who have reached out to me because they heard of Hunter’s accident. I can’t tell you how many people, even now as I travel around the country, ask how we are doing and are sending us their thoughts and prayers. Although this has been a difficult and trying time, the love and support we have received has made a nearly impossible time bearable. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by caring and loving people, whether they are close friends and family, community members or kind strangers, and I have gotten great strength from this. Thank you.


I know that this next year I know is going to unfold great things for Hunter and I am confident that this time next year, his life will be back to normal and year-one of his new life will be a fading memory. This will be the last time I write about Hunter because I know he doesn’t like it and that he is ready to resume the normal life of a 23 year old. Again, thank you all for your concern and support through these hard times.


All the best,