This past January, we once again took Harvard students and others to work in the township of Mamelodi in Pretoria, S. Africa. This year’s focus was on revising the curriculum, and the S. African and American college students worked together well to complete the task in two weeks.
I hadn’t thought much about the meaning of hope before my son Zach’s major brain injury while playing football, but with his prognosis of “death to full recovery or anything in between,” I hoped for his full recovery.
When our family was suffering the pain of not knowing how much of Zach would come back to us, or even if Zach would come back, and later, as the months and years stretched on, still not knowing how much of Zach’s brain might be restored, I lived in the Psalms—reading them and letting them wash over me with God’s truth and hope.
During the first year, no one knew what Zach’s future would hold, so I decided not to grieve future losses but only present ones. Instead of grieving that he would most likely never go back to school, marry, have children, work to support himself, or live on his own, I only grieved the losses right in front of us—his right hand didn’t work well, and his short-term memory and voice were gone which made communication difficult.
When I married my husband Pat, I assumed we would be a football family. Pat played college football, his dad was a very successful coach, and his brother played in the NFL. Pat and I work on the Harvard university campus as Harvard Chaplains, and Pat mentors several of the Crimson football players. It was natural for our sons to play.