Something Was Terribly Wrong

My husband, Henri, looked pale and was still holding the phone in his hand.  Something was terribly wrong.

I wanted to design some T-shirts to sell on my blog and was working with Henri’s friend, Johnny, on the design.  Things were going great and then he totally fell off the map.  He didn’t answer emails or text messages, so I was starting to get annoyed.

“Johnny called.  JJ was in a car crash.  He didn’t die, but he broke his neck and spine and he’s paralyzed from the neck down and connected to all sorts of machines right now.”

It was like a punch to my stomach.

JJ after the crash

JJ after the crash

Once you become a parent the most devastating thought to ever pass your head is if harm comes to your child.  There is life, and there is also quality of life.  All these thoughts entered my head.

Will he be in pain?  Will he breathe on his own?  Who will pay for his hospital bills?  Where will he live now?  Will he be able to be in a wheelchair?  JJ loved music and being a DJ, would he ever be able to work again and support himself?  What about love and marriage and having children?  He’s a young man and his life is forever changed.

I thought back to when I met him.  I was visiting my then-boyfriend Henri for the first time to his bachelor pad at the beach.  His buddy, Johnny, rented the backroom mostly as a place to keep his surfboards and his son JJ was there playing with their Jack Russell Terrier named Girl.  JJ was just a middle school kid.  A really sweet, quiet kid, very tall and lanky and well mannered.  The kind of kid that is easy going and well liked.

Years passed and eventually Henri and I got engaged.  Our wedding was at a community center overlooking a public beach.  As a stressed out bride I remember being concerned that the whole beach would be filled with people sunning themselves, and teenagers gawking at our nuptials and photobombing the pictures.

This is JJ at our wedding reception

This is JJ (I’m middle) at our wedding reception

JJ had a plan.  He took every blanket and towel in our place and put them on the beach in front of where our service was taking place.  Then five minutes before the ceremony started he ran out and gathered everything up so we’d have amazing pictures.

Then I began to cry.  I thought of JJ lying in that hospital bed.

Henri had asked Johnny if there was anything we could do and he said that he could use help fundraising.  They started a YouCaring.com page for JJ’s medical expenses.

Of course we wanted to help!  So I thought the best way that I could help was through my fitness blog.  My husband and I could train for a half-marathon, the Austin Half-Marathon, and every post I wrote about it would link back to JJ’s fundraiser page.  The more people who heard his story the more likely he would get the help he needed.

Johnny said that they hoped to get JJ to qualify for stem-cell therapy to be able to get movement back.  So Henri came up with the idea that we would hashtag every post with #JJwillWalk.

Johnny said that JJ was awake and cracking jokes with the nurses.  He said, “He’s still JJ.”

Ordinary-HeroAnd I remember reading “Still Me” by Christopher Reeve, the actor who used to play Super Man back when I was growing up.  In 1995 he was flung from a horse and severed his spine.  In his memoir he writes that he was unconscious in his hospital bed but still heard everything and heard his own mother say that he wouldn’t want to live like this and would be better off dead.  But his wife, Dana, spoke to him and said no matter what they would get through it. “You’re still you,” she said.  He went on to form a foundation and speak around the world about treatment for spinal injuries.

He’s still JJ. 

Whether he can ever walk again or not I want to help him.  As a mother, I want to make sure he can get whatever treatments he needs to live his life to the fullest.

This is the link to JJ (Johnny James Follis)’s fundraising page.  Can you please chip in just $5 to help him?

Let him know that he’s not powerless and he’s not alone.

Thank you for your consideration.

Lisa

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