22 Days AC:

It’s late on the 28th, and tomorrow brings what we’ve been hoping for—Lauren’s transfer to Craig Hospital in Colorado. Twenty-two days ago, our world changed. Now, we mark time as BC, Before Crash.

Despite the stress, worries, and roller coaster of emotions, it’s remarkable how quickly we’ve adapted. The shift from BC to AC is dramatic, but somehow, you find comfort in the day-to-day dedication to facing the problem. Jennifer or I, sometimes both, have spent countless hours at the hospital. Time has flown, even as it feels suspended.

In the first week, we paced between Brooks and Lauren’s rooms in the ICU, chased by worries and fears in a relentless rhythm. There were moments when Jennifer and I sat together, engulfed by a deep sadness, fear, and hope—a cocktail of cortisol that left us with rashes and a loss of appetite, waiting for any sign, the next change, the next surgery, the next X-ray.

We thought we became experts at reading the monitors and tried not to overburden the staff, though we couldn’t help ourselves. We had to advocate for our kids as best we could, even though there’s no guidebook for this. We found ourselves on teeter-totters of emotion, trying to balance each other out. Sometimes, we both felt down, as if there was no one to lift us.

Yet, almost like clockwork, a phone would ding, a message of love or a simple emoji would appear and snap us back to reality. We weren’t always prompt in responding, but we felt the love and support, often only able to send a “heart” back.

Going home for a shower became my private time to cry, where the water might hide my tears, and for a moment, make this all seem unreal.

Tomorrow is about change, and while it’s positive, it comes with its own set of fears and apprehension. Jennifer and I will have to split up, and we don’t know for how long. But we’ll do the right thing, no matter how hard, because, as Jennifer reminds us, “We can do hard things.” Making this choice for Lauren, to get her the best care while matching Brooks’ needs, is both fortunate and challenging.

It’s surreal that it’s been 22 days, yet it feels much longer. I’ve aged in this time but also witnessed profound beauty. At 17, I seldom have the chance to hold my kids’ hands for long or whisper how amazing they are. Now, reassuring them they’re safe has become a constant refrain

Tomorrow is a new day filled with unknowns, and much for us to learn as a family, as parents, as siblings. We’ll make it work. Ironically, leaving the hospital and the people we’ve come to rely on, exchanging them for new faces, is daunting. There’s a comfort we must leave behind, but I trust we’ll find it again.

For now, we remain forever grateful for the messages, the dings, the smiles. We might not respond quickly, but we’re comforted knowing you’re there. Thank you for helping us reach day 22.

Craig – Jennifer, Brooks and Lauren, Bryce, and Brody.

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