Nerf Bullet

Such a simple thing as handing over the Nerf bullet for him to load the gun. “Don’t shoot me with that” I say and turn my back. Seconds later it hits. I smile but he can’t see me. He leans casually over the hospital bed, folds his arms and rests his chin there briefly. He levels his gaze on me, woozy from the Ativan, “you’ve worn different shoes like every day you been here” he said (yesterday I had on my clogs.)

He teases his sister about the ET machine wrapped around his finger… (What is the thing that tracks the oxygen called?) “touch the Owie ” and she hides her face shyly clutching onto her father’s arm.

When we arrived at dinner time his father was asking him simple math problems. He got each one right except for what was 45÷3. Of course when G asked me that I said you can’t divide 45 x 3 and he leveled me with a look with that annoyingly ambidextrous brain he has and said 15. I told him that I had just proved that that particular question might not be the best one in evaluating his brain.

During the day when I’m here with Zoe and not at the hospital I read too much and worry too much about what the future will hold. From everything the doctors have told us he suffered a severe head injury with a skull fracture was in the severe range in terms of the Glasgow coma scale — has areas of damage in the frontal and parietal lobes. When I read trying to understand these things it scares me. When I see him in the hospital making small talk and shooting Nerf bullets he seems very much like a version of his old self. They have given him a medication for his nerve pain in his legs and something to help the agitation.

Today is moving day for him. Into the inpatient rehabilitation wing of the hospital. They explained to us that it’s very much like school: they wake up and have breakfast… do their occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and take a break. And then they do sessions again in the afternoon. I understand that after a week his various therapists will meet with us and let us know their assessment. The plan is for him to return to school this year and to be home within a matter of weeks– certainly late September/early October.

When Willi started using his phone for Instagram I remember thinking what an eye he had for photography — and then he began using Instagram as all the kids (and we?) do, to craft a very particular image that they want the world to see. But one picture he took struck me. He had put it on the background screen of his iPad. I looked at that photo for the first time and realized there was a creative spirit inside of him — as hidden as it seemed these days inside of his young hockey player bravado– after all he IS the same boy who would make elaborate sculptures out of cardboard, robot drawings, for a long time I thought that he might enjoy robotics, or building. When he was 8 or so we went to the science Museum and saw a sculpture on the wall of repurposed objects. For a while he was on fire to make a sculpture of repurposed things. He grew and grew into this handsome, broad shouldered, athletic hockey player… A 12 or 13-year-old trapped inside a 16 or 17-year-old body and put aside everything but hockey.

There’s something in that photograph that he’s captured so perfectly: that moment in youth we believe ourselves to be invincible; it haunts me now — heading into the setting sun, riding along the yellow line. No idea what is to come.



6 responses

  1. “No idea of what is to come.” Oh man, how true that is. I can barely watch my 4 1/2 yr old ride down a small hill without terror in my heart. I love W’s picture – his future is bright. This is a bump along the road. A significant one I know. He is a miracle, Pam, I have read of 2 young people in recent months who did not survive this kind of accident. Perhaps he can use his artistic side to help his healing? He’s going to be a miserable cranky pants in the weeks to come, but he will get better and better.

    I feel your love for him shining through in each post. I also sense your worry. Reality and fear often look alike, please don’t confuse the two.

  2. I had “Frozen” on while cleaning house yesterday and cried a little thinking of you all – the love, the fear, the head injury… Let love outweigh the fears. I know it seems impossible at times. What I read on Caring Bridge seems really encouraging.

  3. Have you read “In an Instant?” I imagine lots of people have recommended it. It’s the story of Bob Woodward, the ABC new anchor who was hit by a bomb in Iraq and suffered what sounds like a similar or worse injury – he was in a coma for 36 days and wasn’t expected to live. But he did and is now back to being a TV reporter. What I took from the book is the brain is a tremendous thing, largely unknown by science. And this may sound crazy and sappy, but miracles happen in this field, more than you’d think. I’d stay away from the dire prognosticators and stay in the present with Willi, who sounds like he had a tremendous spirit and will. (like his name predicted). I’m thinking about you all. I wish I could fly to Minnesota and make you some tea and bake you a cake and just listen.

  4. Glad to hear that progress is being made. Try to keep the fear of the unknown at bay – there is plenty of reason to think that only good things lie ahead.

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