Thursday, October 21, 2010

Update on Hammy

I went to visit Hamilton today. As I posted before we did his raffle and raised about 5,000. I felt there wasn't an excuse for waiting so long, but in a way I am glad I did. We can prepare ourselves so much, but even with all of his healing I was still not all the way prepared...

Ham was transferred from Parkland ICU next door to the rehabilitation hospital this week. I walked in and there he sat in the chair. His mother, grandmother and sister were there as well. He looked great. I have always said it doesn't matter how he will look because it's about his healing, but burn victims (by the way, I hate that word so I'll try to figure out a better one)... we seem to think they will look the way they do on television always... His hands and arms are wrapped in gauze as well as his ears. Remember he lost a great part of his ears. His face looks like Hamilton. The most amazing thing I never noticed were his eyes. He has these huge brown eyes just full of life. His face looks as if he had a bad sunburn and the skin is peeled and there are scabs where it is healing. There is a place on the scalp on one side of his head where there was a bad burn and it is covered with a graft, I think. His neck is burned and covered with gauze. He told me the worst burn was on his chest. His grafts on his hands look like the end of thimbles and this will smooth out over time. His left hand is not very mobile as he has pins holding fingers and tendons together at this time. Personally he looks like a miracle. He walks and talks. There was a hole where his traeche came out and that was a bit strange, but it just looked like an open hole... We quickly covered it upon realizing the gauze fell off... Maybe I make it sound better than it actually is, I don't know, but all I do know is he looked great to me.

His eyes paint the portrait of the journey. Ham has always been calm and in the moment. I asked him a million questions feeling like Oprah and he answered all of them. He says when he woke up he stared at his hands wrapped up and he thought, "I'm alive." He knows this has been and will be a long road. He spoke of working one day again and being back in his own bed. His stepdaughter is ten and they would not allow her in the room so he has seen her once. He did not have water or food until this weekend. He was so excited to get a hot dog and Mountain Dew!!! His eyes lit up when I joked that Blair had told me to bring a smoothie. It is neat to see him smile. He smiles when talking about all the people that love him so much and ask about him. I told him his guy friends are amazing. Blair, Cody, James, Lance, Chris, Kyle, Adam... all have been so loving and giving to him. His fiance comes every day from Plano after work to sit by his side.

He is the old Ham, but he is quite different. I spoke with his grandmother about life. I was telling her how strong they all were and she pointed out that I had been strong through losing my mother and had walked the journey. Quite a different journey, but tragedy somehow makes you face your own strength. Hamilton lost his dad when we were in high school on another note. He knows the journey. He has always lived with this calmness and sweetness in life. I felt my protective shield coming up. Talking about a tough journey with someone that knows it makes it very raw. I don't cry when talking about my mother, but talking about that journey is difficult when it's raw like that. Strength comes in so many forms. I told those women they are superwomen standing by their son and grandson taking care of him through all of this. I did not see the pictures and Ham has not seen them yet of him at the beginning. The women in the room get their protective shields when speaking of those first few weeks. My gosh, they are strong.

We don't know when he will be released. As of now it's about rehabing the hands and body stretching the new skin... and healing. His grandmother just kept saying prayer works... she is quite correct. Hamilton is so loved and God sure knows this. As I got in the elevator to leave I sighed. I had bounced in that room like I always do when handling nervous situations. I had talked and asked questions and put on a show. When reality set in it hit me. That was tough. Seeing your friend fighting so hard is tough stuff. He is strong and he is healing well, but the eyes don't lie and beneath that warrior is an ongoing battle. He's winning, of course, but it's the journey.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We Are An Army

It's been a very strange week and tying it all together in one blog might be difficult, but here I go...

My town lost Josh Howell this week. I wrote a blog about it and it doesn't give him enough credit, but it has touched us all. Nick says I am sometimes obsessed with death and I know I can be morbid, but there are reasons why... I feel so much empathy for the pain of the family. Empathy so aggressive that it tugs at my heart strings. I know what it's like to lose people you love. And beyond that I know a lot of people and love a lot of people so it's both a blessing and a curse I will know a lot of people that pass away. It was very hard on his best friends and his sister is having a very hard time... but, from what I know the hardest pain comes when all of the excitement dies down and the people are no longer around you all day long. This is when they need us most. And we will all be there. That's what some people don't understand about being from a town of 25,000. We are an army. We love one another and we band together in times like these.

Let's go on to some good times...

Nick and I went to the Rangers game on Friday night. We had a really good time. I'm not a baseball fan, but it was a playoff game and it was history in the making. We lost badly in the end, but we had a good time during it!!! We shall see where this leads... None of our teams are doing so great. Here I am hosting the Red Raider Roadshow and we cannot seem to win! The Cowboys aren't so great... but, hey, to me it's a game... but, somehow to the world of men out there some of them just truly care. Nick loves sports and gets so involved so when they do bad he sure isn't happy with the team.

Today we hosted a fund raiser for Hamilton. We raised over 4,000!!!!!! He is doing so much better... with today's technology doctors say he will probably look like nothing happened in a few years... my gosh... he was third degree burned on 38 percent of his body!!! As of now he will get to keep his hands... and all of his senses have returned except his taste. He doesn't remember being electrocuted either... strange how our bodies and minds work, isn't it? I am going to see him thsi week. I haven't gone and I don't have an excuse. I was scared of the unknown. Cody and Nick say they may even go with me. Cody and some of the guys went up there this weekend. He is out of ICU and he can talk! I just didn't know what to talk about... but, my gosh, Julie, why be selfish when it should be all about him and just making him laugh? His fiance said something I wrote her on Facebook made him laugh and she was so happy to see that smile again. Lauren, Blair and Cody put together a great event and a lot of us Big Springers came out for it. Again... we are an army.

That's all really... I'm ready for the holidays to see my family. Holidays are tough at times. Traditions and things change. Growing up it was all grand and it was just the three of us and my grandparents... it was always small, but now we have Brenda's clan which makes me so happy, but sometimes I'd like to be closer to her kids. We just all have different lives. We also now have the Grays... we aren't married, but I count them as family... Maybe we can get married somewhere in the next 100 years? Believe me, I get tired of answering that question!

Let's pray this week is better... the Rangers game and shopping with Sarah Cohen was great this week and the fundraiser was awesome, but heartache was just sewn in here and there. It takes an army to make it through the world... thank God for mine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Josh Howell

My friend from high school, Josh Howell passed away last night in a motorcycle accident... Josh, his friend and his girlfriend were all riding separately home from Midland. Shane and Hayley stopped for coffee and Josh sped ahead. When Hayley got home she realized he was not there. They went back down I-20 and found him in the ditch by the Stanton rest stop. Apparently he skidded and lost control. They had all driven by him without knowing. I do not know if he was wearing a helmet.

I was always in love with Josh throughout high school. He was really cute and sweet. Saddest thing is he has a one year old, Marin. He loved that little girl so much. He and my best friend, Chandra are close and last time I saw him was at her wedding. Big prayers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Behind the Microphone Afterlife

Sometimes we figure out we aren't alone. Sometimes we figure out what we've been thinking for years is what someone else thinks right along with us.

I went to dinner with my friend, Linda Mares whom I reported with in Abilene. She left to move on and went to a few different places before being a reporter in Oklahoma City. At the table sat two other former reporters. Upon talking we realized we had all left the news business. I have talked before about us jumping ship... it all comes full circle back to my Dad asking me when I began that journey who at my station was age 35? Somewhere in the middle of it when you realize you don't want to climb the ladder to CNN because it is ridiculous... you jump off. I thought I was pretty alone in some of my thinkings about this journey... I was wrong.

Linda asked us if we ever watch the news. We all said NO together. Now, in Dallas I have four good friends on the news. I only know this because they tell me. I have seen them only once or twice on air. Why? Because as reporters we critique and we don't just watch for the news. We are watching for the story and seeing the mistakes. Now, the people that made it here to Dallas have that drive. But, what they don't have are families and I want that one day. They are darn good reporters and amazing people and they have worked very hard. Melissa did the ladder by leaving the state and finally finding her ground here. Jane had to go from Texas to Denver back to Texas. Desmond had to be let go by Tyler before they could see his potential in a huge market like Dallas. Kim kicked butt in every single small town to San Antonio to Dallas to make it up that ladder.

I realized in Tyler the next step had to be out of state because I wasn't ready for the big markets yet. We all have to climb that ladder. You think you go from Abilene to Dallas? Um no. It hit me that I was tired of running. I wanted to have holidays with my family and I wanted to be closer to my friends. I had no money saved and I was missing wedding after wedding and lifetime events... It was a losing battle. Working sixty hours a week... I wanted the life I knew as a child. Granted... this life is not as exciting and I'm not in the spotlight.

We all talked about what we missed. We all said the people and the stories and the camera. Of course. It gave me a sense of purpose that people actually cared about my story that day. I thought it was neat to sign an autograph... I mean, seriously? It was so much fun... but, it wasn't real. It was a little girl just chasing these dreams. We talked about getting out of the business and staring into the world and just not having any clue here in our late 20s what the heck we were doing with our lives. We are all scared to death. We are trained to report. Our hearts want us to report and our hearts want us to write, but unless your face is on a top ten market in the US then our heads cannot wrap around the math of it all. Unless we make it to the top of the ladder we are planted financially and socially in a sense.

It was like therapy to know I am not the only one. I miss it. Of course. I loved so much of that life. I also remember knowing maybe it was time to move on. I chose this. I was strong enough to move to Dallas not knowing my future and I chose it. I did it. I am proud of myself. We all are proud of our decisions and of the friends we have made and of our journey... but, it is all still very scary. You take a huge part of your heart and put it on the table. You stare at it waiting for it to beat because you have no idea how it will live now that you are changing its valves.