Let me start by saying that Jack is doing great!
Really great, all things considered.
I spent last week (and then some) with him (and a few close friends) in LA while he was on Spring Break. I could tell prior to my trip that Jack was enjoying California and USC, but it’s reassuring to see that for myself – in person – rather than on the phone via FaceTime.
It’s hard to believe we dropped him off at college nearly three months ago. Not sure where the time has gone, but it’s already time to start planning for Jack’s return home in May. #Can’tWait!
I could fill you in on how well Jack is doing with his adjustment to college life at USC, but Tom Hauser of KSTP-TV did a phenomenal job when he flew to LA to do a story on Jack’s progress. Here’s a link to the piece that aired last month and again during the MN State High School Boys Hockey Tournament: http://kstp.com/article/stories/s3713780.shtml. And here’s another version of the story: http://kstp.com/article/stories/s3714762.shtml.
We love these stories about Jack. We do. But there are people who are tired of seeing him in the news. We get that. For whatever it’s worth, we appreciate the attention because it raises awareness for people living with paralysis and spinal cord injuries (SCI). We’re on a mission to raise funds for SCI research and recovery through Jack’s BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation. There’s no doubt that the media has helped generate attention to these efforts.
However, we also want to make it clear that what our foundation is doing is much bigger than being “all about Jack.” It’s not. It’s about Everyone living with an injury or condition similar to his. We’re not ashamed to say that Jack has been an inspiration to so many, because he and his story have been. How that happened or why is still baffling. Jack may not have chosen to live life in a chair, but he has chosen to focus on recovery, and not just for himself, but for everyone living with this debilitating condition.
Jack’s journey to college has also been a reality check for us. He’s never presented himself as a victim, he’s not a complainer, and he’s always been so positive. Honestly, I don’t know how he does it, but he does. And, as his mother, I’m not afraid to admit that living with paralysis is a huge challenge and sometimes “just plain sucks.” There, I said it. I did.
However, it’s true. There were moments during my visit with him that brought tears to my eyes. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. Joy because I’m so proud of him for being such a trooper. For having the courage to go to school 1,925 miles away from home and without the support he had grown to know so well here in Minneapolis. Every. Single. Thing. in his life changed when he left in January.
And it made me realize how much we had conquered here at home and how much more we had to re-establish in California. We were beyond fortunate to find Danny, Jack’s live-in caretaker. He’s wonderful. Treats Jack like his own son. How comforting that is to us.
We also had to find helpers to accompany Jack to class and tend to his needs. Again, we’re so lucky to have connected with the wonderful girls who stepped up to this task. We also had to find doctors, rehab facilities, therapists, resources to fix his van and power chair and to set up his medical bed and equipment. Not an easy thing to do, but we’ve succeeded. For the most part.
Watching Jack maneuver his way around college life sheds a sense of sadness over me as well. I see how difficult things can be yet he makes the best of every situation and moves on.
But it’s not the norm. I see how limiting life in a chair can be and that makes me sad. Jack doesn’t have the ability to do the things we can do. He needs constant attention and help throughout the day. He didn’t just lose the ability to stand up and walk. He lost so much more. And that’s what the BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation is determined to change. We’re passionate about recovery and supporting research that will help people living with paralysis regain lost abilities. End. Of. Story.
Perhaps I’m getting a bit deep here. Or maybe it’s the emotions of a mom watching her child go off to college. Not an easy thing for any parent to do. We all worry. It’s our nature. And yes, our situation is a bit more complicated, so I can’t help but worry about the difficulties Jack has to deal with day-in-and-day-out.
However, I’m so proud of him for doing so well and for having the desire to make the most of his life. He has been blessed with many wonderful and exceptional opportunities. I know he’s going to be fine. He already is.
Maybe there are days when I just wish we could fast-forward to the day when recovery is possible for everyone living with paralysis. Maybe there are days when recovery can’t come soon enough.
I do BEL13VE. I do.
As they say at USC, “Fight On!”