I'll never give up on you! A Momma's story ...
The day started as any other day, Kolton got up early and drove to school in his kinda ragged F150 pickup to start his day with football practice. Yes, it was summer time and school was not in session but varsity football is no joke and it seems practice and training is year round. Myself, I went to work which was 15 minutes away from home and to his school. Kolton visited his girlfriend at the time after practice and realizing that he promised to fold his laundry before he headed to his part-time job he hurried home (he was, of course, running late). This is when the day of June 29th, 2018 became the day that changed our lives forever.
Gratefully, my boss was very understanding about his employees keeping their cell phones on them while at work as he knew it was a comfort to me to know that my boys could reach me anytime they wanted or needed to. Now, my boys understood that is I had my hands full at work I would call them back if I didn’t answer the first time they called, however, if they called right back (even if they were calling from an unknown number) I would drop everything to answer knowing it was something very urgent. I didn’t expect to hear the words I heard from my son or they way he said them when I answered that second call. “Momma, I messed up!” I would not wish my worst enemy to feel what I felt in that moment. My heart plummeted and I didn’t even know what he was talking about at that moment. I guess it is true, a mom just knows. I grabbed my keys, informed whoever could hear me as I am running out the door to my car that something is wrong with Kole and was on my way to him. Somehow, by the Grace of God, my baby could talk to me. He quickly told me where he was, only about a mile away from school heading home, then the man that found him got on the phone and tried to explain the scene he came upon as best he could and assured me that an ambulance was on the way. I think I got to him in five minutes, but it is a blur to me still and thank God He had His angel guiding that car. I could see the ambulance lights as I approached, I was so terrified. I pulled over, jumped out of the car, and ran as fast as I could to my baby boy. The paramedics were just loading him into the ambulance as I ran up. If I looked at the scene of the accident, I don’t remember it. I can only remember seeing my boy and asking him if he’s ok and what hurts. Then, the next worst feeling I had came with his next words. “I can’t move my legs, I can’t feel them.” Then, he says, “I’m ok momma, I’m gonna be ok.” This is very hard to write. From what Kolton could remember and from what we were told about the scene, Kolton was not wearing his seatbelt when he was distracted looking for something in his truck, he overcorrected, then by mistake hit his gas pedal instead of the brake, after swerving several times he finally rolled his truck and was ejected, landing just right to break his back and fold his spinal cord. The only other injury was a minor wound on his arm and a scape on his leg. Not even a concussion.
We were airlifted to Tampa General Hospital where he spent, I think, 5 days in NICU. His injury level is T12 complete and he was fused from T9 to T12 with rods and bolts. I never left his side. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Because he was 17 and still a minor, I was allowed to stay with him the whole time. We spent the next 2 months learning how to maneuver through this new life in the pediatric wing, God bless those girls in PT for accepting his as a patient even though he was 250 lbs of muscle which made them have to bring equipment over from the adult wing to help him. I had to be forced to leave the hospital after a few weeks, I was told I would feel better if I went home, took a nice shower and slept in my own bed. I didn’t. I just cried. And cried, and cried, returning the next morning. I mostly cried for the life he was never going to be able to have. For all of the things he would never be able to do. For the uncertainty of his future.
At one point, and I will NEVER forget these words he said to me, he asked,, “Momma, you won’t ever give up on me, will you?” I, sobbing and holding him, trying not to hurt him, promised him with everything that I am made of that I would and will NEVER, EVER, give up on him!!
We left the hospital in August, just in time for Kolton to make it to the first day of school, his senior year. He had the choice of staying home and doing virtual school, but chose not to. With the mad support of his teammates and his coach, he graduated high school and with the determination and goal he set for himself while in the hospital, he walked across the stage, in his Kafo’s and walker, and accepted his diploma.
I will fast forward through the next four years. He started college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL working towards a business degree, COVID pandemic hit, everything went virtual and he did not want to learn like that, so he put his college career on hold. He studied and earned his commercial drone pilot license, lost his girlfriend that stuck through until she decided that his life was not what she could deal with. He got a new girlfriend, they are still together, he has had a few jobs and is currently working full time. He struggles, he figures things out, he is not bitter, doesn’t not blame the world for his injury, he has accepted that this is his new world and tries to make the most of it. As I write this, December 22, 2022, he and his girlfriend flew to Pennsylvania to be with her family for Christmas this year. He is confident, he is brave, he will forever have me support, I will always have his back when he needs me but he is doing more and more on his own, without my hovering every day. I believe it is harder on me to let him grow than it is for him. I watch him as closely as I possibly can. I watch for signs of depression, sadness, illness, sores, movement (I still touch his feet when he’s not looking to see if he will feel it). I will NEVER give up on him.
I will finish with this. I read a lot of the forums that are available, still. I can not express the anger and rage I feel when I read about how some individuals have had everyone in their life turn away from them. Specifically, mothers. How can a mother not give their very last breath to take care of the person they brought into this world. It is a very personal feeling that I may not fully understand the lives that others live but, when it comes to my children, specifically, I would trade places if I could. I don’t just take care of them, I need to take care of them. They were not easy to bring into this world for me but I would give my last breath to make sure I do everything in my power to see them happy and healthy.
There is always hope that he may someday walk again. He believes it. I believe it. But if that day never comes, he is still grateful for the life he has.