The Accident

When I created and named this Blog, I had no idea what the title would come to mean to me.

On December 7, I received the call that every parent dreads; there had been a serious car accident and my son, Christopher, was at Tallahassee Memorial. I quickly dressed and left for the hospital. On the way, a weird though occurred to me – how mad I was going to be if this was a prank of Christopher and his friends. No such luck.

This was not the typical phone call as I had gone to bed to take a nap. Christopher and I had talked around 6:20 – he was at John’s and expected to be home within an hour or so. I woke up at 7:10 and rolled over to got back to sleep some more; I had been up late the previous night writing a paper for a class I was taking. At 8:15 when I woke up, I heard what sounded like a ball being thrown against a wall which would not have surprised me with a group of boys coming over. Rather than walking downstairs, I called Christopher’s cell phone, just to check in. He didn’t answer. Within a few minutes, the home phone rang – caller ID showed Christopher’s cell phone number. It was the hospital; “Is this the family of Chris Hefren? . . .”

I arrived at the hospital and was put into a “family room”. There I sat, by myself. As I recall, the first people to come in were from the Leon County Sheriff’s Department. I was told that Christopher had been life-flighted to the hospital and came in as critical as he could have and still be alive. They left me, by myself again.

Next came in a Chaplin; a very nice man, but not really in touch with what I was dealing with. He did pray with/for me which was very helpful. I am not sure that I was thinking of God at this point. Where was He, anyways?

Eventually, the medical folks came in and told me that Christoper had a lot of internal injuries. Their goal was to stabilize him and move him to Intensive Care. Not a very optimistic goal, in my mind.

Somewhere along the line, I called my mom and a friend, Connie. Connie picked up my mom and the two of them came to be with me. Shortly after their arrival, I was able to see Christopher. He didn’t look that bad to me, except that there was a lot of blood on the floor. They explained that the CT scan had revealed that his right lung was full of blood and that was their immediate concern. He was on a ventilator had had all sorts of tubes coming in and going out of his mouth. They had him sedated (although I believe that he was unconscious), but that wasn’t working so well because his blood pressure kept dropping. I went up close to him and talked to him. I have to believe that he knew I was there. I held his had for a moment. I had not before realized how big he had gotten; 17 year old sons are not inclined to let their mom hold their hand.

At that point, they knew that they weren’t going to be able to avoid surgery. They put a form in front of me to sign, but made it clear that had I not been there, they would be doing the surgery anyways. I left Christopher; he was squirming around. They assured me that this was a natural response to the discomfort caused by all the tubs. I would not see him alive again.

After what seemed to be an eternity, but actually between 11:30 and 12:00 that night, the doctor emerged. She was so kind. The extent of injuries in his abdomen was not as great as originally thought. They removed his spleen and part of his colon; his liver wasn’t damaged as thought. But the bleeding wouldn’t stop; a thoracic surgeon and begun to work. I shouldn’t expect to hear anything for at least a couple of hours. If it would be more than two, she would ask someone to come out to update me.

I told those around me that I wasn’t at all encouraged by that update. Others tried to tell me all the positives. I was right.

Within an hour, three doctor-looking people emerged. Just like in the movies, their first words were, “we’re sorry”. They took the time to try to explain that Christopher literally had a hole in his heart that when they got in there, just let loose. There was no time to get him on a heart-lung machine. They did everything they could. I don’t doubt that, but it wasn’t enough.