In early Fall of 2011, my brother, Mark's family was preparing to live out their lifelong dream. Their son, Cole, had just moved to Maui for college and Mark and Nancy were not far behind. Having sold their family home in Manhattan Beach, they were packing for their permanent move to Maui in early January. Everything changed on October 27th when 19-year-old Cole was in a devastating car accident while visiting friends in Oahu for the weekend. While he fought for his life, he remained in a coma for much of his 6-week stay at the hospital in Honolulu and was finally transferred to Casa Colina ( a brain injury facility in Pomona) in early December. Cole continues to progress cognitively but, unfortunately, at this point, has serious physical limitations. They will take him home from the hospital in a few weeks with a wheelchair, a feeding tube, incontinence and years of therapy ahead of them. In spite of all that, they are upbeat and grateful that they still have their precious son to care for. I look back on their journey with a mixture of sadness for the loss of their dreams and courage as they redefine what new dreams look like!!
This is just a little piece of who they are:
From his hospital bed in Oahu to Casa Colina, Nancy has spent nearly every waking hour with her only child, never waivering in her commitment to his recovery. The journey has been fluid as she shares his victories when he reaches a new goal in either physical, speech or occupational therapy and holds back tears at an unexpected setback in his progress. She has nurtured his body, heart and spirit every step of this incredible journey and continues to put pieces of her soul in print as she shares his painful journey with the hundreds of followers on Cole's Army. In spite of the great challenges that have plagued her, Nancy has maintained and even strengthened her faith. I can't imagine the gift of spirit that it would take to endure such a challenge and I am so very proud of her.
From the moment they got "the call", Mark has been there to guide their family ship. Diligently behind the scenes he has been the engine that has propelled all of the logistics that are required of this long and arduous journey. From medical bills to treatment plans, housing arrangements, ongoing battles with insurance companies and numerous moves, he has been at the helm. But in spite of the endless piles of paper work and planning, his true gift is to be the pillar of emotional strength that everyone has grown to depend on. He's definitely the one you want on your side when things have to get done.....especially the things that no one else wants to do. He's a tireless workhorse and doesn't stop until the job is done. With blinders on, his only job is to create the environment that will be most conducive to his son's recovery. Asking for nothing in return, he has stoically handled their unexpected life change with grace, courage (and lots of tenacity!)
…..the true hero. While the rest of us share concerns, love and prayers, Cole is the one doing the hard work. Every day he struggles to put back the pieces of his memory and to retrain his physical body to cooperate with the re-routing of his brain messages after suffering such an injury. Numerous therapy sessions each day leave him drained. And in spite of the constant pain he endures as a side effect of the injury, he continues to paddle hard towards a better life. Each day he quietly asks if he gets to go home with his family yet.
AS A FAMILY
While their dream of living out their retirement years in Maui has vanished, my heart warms with pride at Mark and Nancy’s ability to create a new set of dreams for their family. Through faith and courage, they have redefined their goals by their commitment to providing Cole the best life possible under their new circumstances.
While their family has united in ways that overwhelm my heart, it pains me to know that uncertain financial concerns loom ominously in their future. Medical treatment and equipment, ongoing therapy, retrofitting their residence for handicap....the list goes on and on. While dealing with the emotional trauma of Cole's extensive brain injury, I can't imagine having to also consider the financial ramifications of such an event at the same time.
Over the last 6 months, many of you have asked what you could do to help. Short of a visit to Cole and posts on Cole's Army, Mark and Nancy ask almost nothing of anyone. I know that as a sister, it is a helpless feeling not to be able to contribute in some meaningful way besides offering moral support and constant prayers. That is why I started this pledge drive.....to lift the spirits of this most incredible family and to help offset the uncertain financial issues that will probably plague them for many years to come, if not a lifetime. Since Mark and Nancy would never ask for assistance themselves, I am making this request on their behalf. If you are so inclined, please take a moment to send a contribution to the Cole’s Army 2012 campaign. Let's make a meaningful difference in their lives since, as we know, they have spent years making an incredible difference in all of ours. A most heartfelt thanks, in advance, for the love and support you are showing my family. They will be incredibly touched by your love and concern.
Click here or more background and a recent update from Mark about Cole's homecoming!