Patricia McMorrow | 09.20.17
Homemade slime has helped make whole again the Bratland family of Shoreview, MN, after 4-year-old Trip suffered devastating injuries in a car crash in April 2013, on the way to preschool.
Jars of the slimy goop and empty bottles of its main ingredient, white glue, take up space on countertops and windowsills. Mom Erica said she loves seeing the grossed-out faces of her kids when they’re digging into slime. Especially Trip, now 9, and fully healed physically.
Erica said, “It’s just one of those moments that you appreciate because you have the ability to do it.”
In the years since Trip has recovered from extensive internal, bone and brain injuries—he was not expected to survive—the family home has come to run on appreciation for normal moments.
“There is no greater joy for me, and nothing I appreciate more, than being able to sit and watch my son,” Erica said. “Being faced with the reality that you might never see your child again makes it so sweet.”
Erica describes the horrifying crash as a healing gift to her family, which also includes husband, Dave, and daughters Emma and Maddie. And yes, she realizes how odd that might sound. “It changed the way we view everything,” she said.
Before the car in which Trip was a passenger was broadsided at 57 mph, in a suburban intersection, the Bratlands were a typical, on-the-go family. Two working parents, three active kids. Busy-busy-busy.
In fact, in the last conversation Erica had with her son the night before the accident, she essentially told him to go away. She jokingly said, “Trip, you have to get out of my room. I’m tired and I need to go for a run in the morning.”
Erica did, indeed, run that morning. Right onto the crash scene, where she saw Trip covered in blood, among vehicle debris. “It seems like I watched it on my TV, like a movie,” Erica said. “It was very unreal.”
In the blur of days and nights at Trip’s ICU bedside, Erica and Dave made a choice that turned out to be healing for their family. They decided to slow down.
“We have chosen to be in every moment we’re given, because you don’t know if it’s the last moment,” Erica said. “Rather than throwing away those small moments of being able to sit and have a cup of coffee and watch the kids play, I’ll take them. I’ll take them 100 times in a row.”
Today, Trip has no memory of the wreck, and jokes that when he turns 18 he will get zipper tattoos at the top and bottom of the scar that runs the length of his chest.
But healing continues for the rest of the family. “After four years, we still feel this way,” Erica said. “We keep it so close to our hearts that we almost did not have him.”