We've all said it, "I just wish there were more hours in the day." I'm guilty of saying it myself, but I now know that a lot can happen in 24 hours. In the time it takes for the earth to make one rotation, lives can be changed forever. It happens to be exactly the amount of time that it took for my youngest son, Easton, to go from being a happy, healthy baby boy, to suddenly becoming a shell of his former self as a massive seizure claimed his body.
Adrenaline, pain, and fear of the unknown forced me to not only be awake for the full 24 hours, but also to be extremely hyper-vigilant. It was physically and mentally exhausting. I asked so many questions, cried so many tears, and although it was the most horrific day of my life it eventually gave way to the most beautiful 24 hours I have ever experienced.
During our first couple of weeks at the hospital, we had tunnel vision. We were concerned about one thing, and one thing only...the well-being of our son. Eventually things began to look more promising and gave way to thoughts of mounting hospital bills, ongoing care possibilities, and most importantly regaining a sense of safety and security for our family. Would we ever be able to recover from such a tragic event both emotionally and financially? Had we managed to create any kind of financial safety net for ourselves? We were obviously going to do whatever was necessary to bring our son back to us, even if that meant we would have to fight little battles for the rest of our lives. But, little did we know that back home, people had waged a war against our pain. We didn't come home to a few soldiers shouldering all of the burden. We had an army.
What began as a couple of people throwing out ideas to help raise funds, became a community working together to uplift and restore our little family. A benefit was held in honor of our son, and was centered around a walk-a-thon in which hundreds of people signed up, donated money, and walked a specified amount of time. The entire 24 hours was covered by at least one walker. People made sure that not even a second went by without someone walking. The symbolism of our friends and family coming together to each take a portion of our son's pain brought tears to my eyes all day long. My husband was there for the first steps, and I was fortunate enough to be there for the last. All along the way, we were accompanied by selfless, loving people who didn't give a second thought to donating their time.
The benefit was organized by a small group of women and men, and it ran like a well-oiled machine. But, I know that each of them would tell you that it was due to the fact that so many people offered time, money, and donations of all kinds. Every person that said they would be there, showed up. Every person that said they would bake something, went above and beyond bringing in some of the most creative and delicious goods I've ever seen. Every person that signed up to walk, brought their walking shoes and made it count. Needless to say, the benefit was a huge success. It surpassed every person's expectations. We will no longer worry about how to provide for our medical bills. Our friends and family have made it possible for us to focus 100% of our attention on Easton's recovery.
Small towns can have their own issues, including silly arguments and taking sides. But, on June 11, 2011 the walls came down. The barriers were broken, and friends and foes alike came together for a common cause. Like I said, a lot can happen in 24 hours. I have never been more proud of my roots. The communities of Payson and Quincy, IL have proven that big city lights and big city attractions could never compare to a small town heart.