"It was approximately 12 months ago that I was with my two sons, Josh and Michael, on a hunting trip to the Northwest Territories of Canada. The photo of the three of us was posted on Michael’s CaringBridge site shortly after his accident on March 17th. The background of a pristine lake and snowcapped mountains with the three of us smiling is one of my favorite photos. I could never have imagined that we could almost duplicate that same photo last week in Utah, especially after Michael’s accident. He looks a bit thinner than twelve months ago but our smiles and affection for each other has only grown.
There is no way to properly summarize the feelings each member of my family has experienced since
March 17th. We have been humbled by the outpouring of support from people around the world, especially the community of Detroit Lakes, the state of Minnesota, Concordia College, NDSU Women’s Golf Team, Trinity Lutheran Church, and our co-workers at Herzog Roofing. So many people and organizations have impacted us by their words, actions and prayers. We are grateful and appreciative. The only way to thank you all is by “paying it forward” to others when a crisis might strike.
I do want to specifically thank the staff at the Burn Center of Regions Hospital in St. Paul. What an amazing team of people that responded to Michael each day of his stay there. Housekeeping, nurses, doctors, OT, PT, psychologists, pastoral, and security. They all care for each patient like they are their own child. Simply an incredible group of people.
Our families on both sides, the Zastrows, the Herzogs and the Cards, plus all of their kids and families.
We could never have made it without your prayers, actions and support on so many levels.
As the patriarch of my family, I try to be the one that other members can lean on. I have found out in
the past six months that it is okay for me to seek help from each of them when needed.
Little Ivan, age two. Josh and Brook’s son. He has a perpetual smile on his face and his happy demeanor when he visited us at the hospital brightened our day. The numerous videos of him that Brook sent always cheered us up.
Our sweet granddaughter Emme, soon to be three. Luke and Christine’s youngest child. She struggled a bit when she first came to see Michael. Hospitals can be a bit frightening to young children. Her big blue eyes were always searching for Michael though and her concern for him was evident. She has a spunky personality and helped add strength to our hospital routine during her visits.
Our oldest grandson, Declan, loves his Funcle (Fun Uncle) Michael. We never get tired of his question,
“where is Michael.” He has never skipped a beat in wanting to play and hangout with Michael. His laugh
is infectious and energy unlimited.
These three little ones, as all grandparents know, are precious gems in our lives, especially during a
challenging period like we experienced.
Our youngest daughter, Madison is now a sophomore at NDSU. She was with us the first night at the hospital with Michael. It was very emotional for her to see her older brother in such serious condition. She was torn between staying with us in St. Paul and returning to college. Jodie and I encouraged her to go back to school. We knew her second family at NDSU, her golf coach Matt Johnson, and her golf teammates would surround her with love and compassion. They are each incredible people who have left a lasting imprint on our hearts.
These updates enabled thousands of people to pray for our son. Without these prayers there is no way
Michael would have recovered the way he has. Brook’s ability to take our daily doctor reports about
Michael and share them so eloquently were priceless. What a gift she provided to us all.
Son in law, Luke, has a busy dental practice and two small children, yet he did not hesitate in having Christine spend an unlimited time with us in St. Paul. He knew how important it was for us to have Christine with us. We also leaned on him for medical advice and he was a willing “nurse” with Michael’s bandage changes when it seemed overwhelming to Jodie.
Josh and Christine were mom and dad to their Mom and Dad. There is no way to accurately explain how they took care of Jodie and I that first week. They shielded us from everything and allowed us to focus 100% on Michael. They handled media requests, lodging logistics, the roofing business, and the list goes on and on.
We could not be more proud of each member of our family!
How does a mom cope with a child that is close to death? I witnessed it and continue to see how deep a mother’s love is. Jodie has been unrelenting in her love, care and commitment to Michael. Every ounce of energy she had was spent on Michael those first days, even to the detriment of her own health. She massaged the toes on his right foot each day those first couple of weeks as that was the only part of his body not wrapped. She recited her bed time phrase from when he was a little boy to him each night before we left to go back to our apartment. Her tenderness with him as she became his “nurse” when he came back home to Detroit Lakes was remarkable. She continues to do all she can to help him have the best possible recovery. Even when Michael doesn’t want to hear it, she is preaching to him and he knows she is right! All moms are special but there is another level they get to when one of their children is in need. Jodie got to that level and beyond with Michael.
Suffering is defined as pain or hardship. Each of us has endured various forms of pain and hardships at
different times in our lives. What Michael has experienced is beyond definition. When he was shaking uncontrollably in his hospital bed and saying “please take me home I just want to die” he was suffering at a level I never want to witness again. He is not a perfect young man, no one is I guess. He makes his share of mistakes that frustrate us as his parents but he has courage that is impossible to measure. To endure what he has had to go through is pretty remarkable. His recovery continues. We don’t know what the future holds for him but I do know he possesses the strength, and determination to handle whatever it might be. God has given him an experience that can impact many. Our prayer for him is that he recognizes those opportunities when presented and embraces them.
Michael has asked our entire family out to dinner tonight to celebrate six months since his accident.
Please know that we will share stories about many of you and the support you provided to us in so many different ways. We are grateful for each other. We are grateful to all who prayed for him and us. We are grateful to our God who answered our prayers when we were in desperate need of our Miracle
Blessings to you all on your own journeys. The Mike Herzog Family"
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