The Knock on the Door
that no parent wants to hear
My wife and I live in the Florida Panhandle, and our son Clay is a student at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts In Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
At 3:00 am on August 30, 2018, we received a knock on the door that no parent ever wants to receive, along with the following statement:
“Your son has been involved in a terrible automobile accident in Lexington, North Carolina.”
Because the hospital in Lexington was unable to fully treat Clay due to the serious nature of his injuries, he was life-flighted to Wake Forest Medical Center, 11 hours away from us in Florida.
As the father of one of 2 sons, I immediately made arrangements to take a flight at 7 am. By 12 noon I was standing in the ICU of Wake Forest Medical Center by the bed of my precious boy. He had been involved in a head-on collision, resulting in injuries including 2 broken legs, broken vertebrae, severe stomach injuries from his seat belt, and lacerations up and down his broken body. None of this was his fault.
After buttoning up things at our home and boarding our dogs, my wife came the next day.
Of course, we needed a place to stay in Winston-Salem for that night and many more nights to come.
The case worker at my son’s college immediately helped us make arrangements to stay at the SECU Family House. And what a Godsend that was.
We stayed at the Family House for the next 5 weeks, putting our jobs and our home on hold.
Regarding our son, he endured, and we right along with him at all hours of the next few days and nights, the surgeries on his broken limbs, 5 stomach surgeries, installation of a back brace, and the list goes on and on. He was completely unconscious and didn’t open his eyes for 3 weeks.
The Family House, with its families with hospitalized family members also, was our support system. Every day we took the shuttle to the hospital, only to return to a clean room and a meal every night provided by local volunteers.
That stability and routine kept us going and kept us sane—all the while enduring the anguish that a parent goes through during a time like this.
The Family House saved us hundreds of dollars that we would have been forced to spend at hotels and restaurants. The kind and loving staff gave us the daily moral support we needed, and the homelike atmosphere was like none other.
We have since decided to make a monthly sustaining contribution to give back some of the kindness given to us.
Because I work at a university here in Florida, I have presented the idea of creating our own Family House for our students. The Student Senate has decided to take this on as a project.
Our sustaining contribution is minor compared to the incredible gifts we received in love and support and sustenance while our son was in the hospital. I only hope that every family that is touched by the kindness and generosity of the Family House will do the same. In the truest sense of those words, it was our home away from home during the most critical time in our family’s life.