As I sit out on the deck of the room we have for the weekend at the Ocean Resort Inn in Montauk I can finally relax. It’s October and there’s a strong wind blowing off the ocean, but the sun is shining brightly and it feels so good on my face. I’ve positioned my chair in the corner of the deck so I’m protected on one side from the cold air but still have a clear view of the ocean. While I relax, just sitting here listening to the surf hitting the beach, the birds calling to one another and enjoy the feeling of the wind blowing my hair around, I’m desperately trying not to worry about my son. I can’t help but think back on how we came to be here for the weekend……
What do you do when your whole world is suddenly turned upside down? Unfortunately, that was a question I had to find the answer to this past summer. On July 23, 2013 at 1:10 in the morning, my world was badly shaken. I was waiting up for my youngest son to get home. It was past his 12:30am curfew and he wasn’t answering his cell phone, which was really getting me aggravated. I was just giving in and going to call his friend’s house when there was a knock on the front door. There stood two plain clothed policemen and my heart sunk. I heard the words “There’s been an accident…” and from that moment till weeks later the time was a blur. Emergency rooms, ICU, neurologists, doctors, nurses, exams, tests and more tests, tubes, monitors, prays, visits from friends and family, fear and the speculations of what will happen.
We are very blessed; my son came through everything and was home just a week later. He has a long way to go to get back to being healthy, but we did not lose him or his 2 friends who were in the same accident. These kids are well known in the community and everyone wanted to do something to help and show support. So, some very special people organized a fund raiser for them and the response was amazing. It still brings tears to my eyes to know that you and your child are so well thought of by so many different people. And it is through the kindness and understanding of 2 of these very special people that my husband and I are sitting here, breathing in the ocean air and taking a break. Someone had offered up their weekend timeshare at the Ocean Resort as a give-away at the fundraiser. This couple took it upon themselves to out bid everyone with the sole purpose of offering the weekend to us. We had no clue that they were going to do this till months later, when the woman who organized the fundraiser mailed us the gift. They understood that this accident was going to affect us in a way that my husband and I never realized.
TBI, traumatic brain injury can affect people in many different ways. My son’s moods are erratic, his short term memory is not good and the medications that he has to take makes him easily agitated. We walk around on egg shells trying not to upset him, but since everything we do seems to be wrong, that’s not an easy thing to do. He insisted that he could go away to school, the Maritime College, as originally planned. After some more tests, the doctors cleared him to go as a civilian only. But no one prepared us for the phone calls we would be getting on a daily bases about how he “can’t remember things”, he’s “afraid he may fail”, and how he “can’t think of the words to write a simple essay for school”. The list of problems just kept growing. It got to a point, that when the phone rang I would cringe if I saw his cell number on the ID pad. No one explained the frustrations we would have over the amount of paperwork and doctor visits involved to try and get him cleared for certain courses and functions. The nights you spend second guessing every decision that you are making about what he can do and shouldn’t do. The arguments between my husband and myself over what we should be doing; are we pushing him too much, should we see another doctor.
But the hardest thing is looking into my son’s face and trying to get him to understand that his days of studying the night before a test and getting A’s are over. He needs to go to tutoring and extra help; use a recorder to tape lectures and having a note taker in class is his new norm. That he may have to change his plans for the future because of this accident and the damage that was done. Trying to get him to be patient and hopefully in time some of his problems will improve. No one tells me that after 2 months, I would wake up and look in the mirror at a face that has aged so fast, clothes that are loose and how much the stress has put a strain on my marriage. But, each night I go to bed, thankful that our son is with us, pray that he will continue to improve and let the silent tears roll onto my pillow as I fall asleep.
Then, out of nowhere comes this perfectly timed gift. Of course our first instinct was to be very grateful, but decline the offer and let them use the weekend out in Montauk. But after talking to Mary, she convinces me that we have to take this time and get away. And she is right. So on a gorgeous, clear, cold Friday in October we drive out to the Ocean Resort Inn in Montauk, NY. I haven’t been out to Montauk in a long while, but I can already feel my muscles starting to relax on the drive out there. The room is dated, cold and dark when we walk in, but we pull back the drapes from the sliding door, walk out onto the deck and sigh. The view of the ocean is fantastic, the air is crisp, and we stand there huddled together and take it all in. I’ve made a promise to myself not to call my son and just enjoy our time. We spend the rest of the day walking around the town, checking out where to go for dinner and buying some sweatshirts. We end up at the Dock Bar & Grill near Gosman’s Dock for dinner and had a great time. The place was casual and the food very good. My husband and I are actually having a great conversation and enjoying ourselves so much that I have a second glass of wine! (I still have not called my son). The next day we visit the light house and climb all over the rocks and take some great pictures. We decide to get some take out and eat in our room. We move the table and chairs over to the sliding door and have a great view of the ocean….Food, Wine, View and Romance, what more could you ask for? (I’m being good – still have not called my son!). It’s Sunday morning and our last day. The wind has finally calmed down so we decide to take an early walk along the beach. The whole shore of the beach is lined with people surf casting for strip bass. My husband is mesmerized watching the men casting their lines and when one starts hauling in a fish – well, the gleam in his eyes reminds me of our son’s eyes on Christmas morning.
I leave him on the beach to talk fishing and head back to the room. I check to make sure everything is packed, cleaned and back in place. I walk out onto the deck and position a chair so I have a perfect view of the water …. and finally I give my son a call. I let him know when we’ll be home and ask him if everything is good. He assures me that he is fine; the dog is fine, the house is still in one piece and I have nothing to worry about. I know that I will still worry about everything, but I realize that I can’t let it take over our lives. This weekend was the perfect gift and I will be forever grateful to those 2 very special people for giving me and my husband the time to get our bearings and come together again. I realize that my son will be fine, that we will all have to adjust and to keep our perspective and humor. I think we’ll be back next fall – my husband so he can try is new favorite hobby, surfcasting and me to remind myself how blessed we really are.