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.