This week marks the tenth anniversary of Eli’s accident. January 9, 2003 was the day that changed everything for our family. One of my clearest memories of the last ten years is of the Empty Playroom.
Eli’s playroom was the main feature of the new home we moved into just 18 months before the accident. It was big … 20 feet wide and 24 feet long. It was bright and open with six windows and double doors leading in. It was the attribute that sold us on the home. It was the place where Eli and our family were making memories. They were supposed to be good memories.
Several days after the accident, while Eli was still fighting for his life in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, I came home to take a shower and gather some belongings for the extended stay at the hospital. That drive to our house was the first time that I was alone since the accident. It served as time to process what was happening to me and my family.
I arrived home and the whole house was cold and silent. As I walked up the steps and peered into the playroom, I took a mental snapshot that is forever etched into my mind. It was like a ghost-room. Eli had always cleaned up his toys after playing with them. But now his toys were spread all over the room as if he had been raptured out of it. It was an eerie feeling. This was the last place he played before tragedy struck. I didn’t know if he would ever return. I didn’t know if my precious three-year-old son was coming home. My son. My only son. This was OUR home. We had more memories to make, but I knew that he might never come back again.
I’ll never forget that pain.
Twelve weeks later, Eli did come home. Life has never returned to “normal”, but I’m forever grateful that the playroom didn’t remain empty.
Now 13-years-old, Eli continues to recover. I am so thankful that I can talk to him, hug him, love on him, and help him to become the man that God wants him to be.
Whenever I start to get grumpy about anything in life, I remember the Empty Playroom. I remember that God saved my son’s life. It’s hard to be grumpy when I think about that.
Do you have a painful experience that can be used for good?
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