Have you ever had one of those days where you can remember the events as if they happened only yesterday? Yeah, this day was like that.
The day started out like most any normal day. Coffee, checking email, and looking over my calendar for the day’s schedule. I had plenty of support tickets to work on. Clients that needed updates, or issues that needed to be resolved. I also needed to travel to Sarasota for a luncheon with the Suncoast Technology Forum for a presentation regarding the ‘State of the Cloud’.
Returning from my luncheon around 2:00, I got settled in and began to work on remote support tickets. It wasn’t long after that I received a phone call from my son’s number. I answered as I normally would, but was caught off guard when the voice on the other end of the line did not belong to Tyler.
Mr. Thomas, asked the voice on the other end. I acknowledged. Are you Tyler’s father? He asked. I acknowledged that I was indeed Tyler’s father, asking who I was speaking with. The stranger on the phone identified himself as Officer Timothy Albert of the Upper Allen Police Department.
Now, I have to admit. My first thought was that Tyler had gotten himself in trouble, was being arrested, and the officer was calling to let me know. After all, Tyler had been in trouble before and wouldn’t have been too far of a stretch for me to receive a phone call like this.
There was silence.
“Mr. Thomas”, he began. “I’m calling to tell you that I am with your son. He was found unconscious and unresponsive in an apartment in Mechanicsburg”, he said. “We are waiting on the ambulance to arrive and he will be transported to Holy Spirit Hospital”.
“Mr. Thomas, are you aware of whether or not your son, Tyler, is involved in drugs”? I had to think for just a moment. Peggy and I had long suspected that he was using drugs of some sort, but had never found any in his room. We would often suspect because of his behavior and more often than not, his eyes. “I would not be surprised”, was my response.
Officer Albert informed me that the ambulance had arrived and that he would call me from the hospital to give me an update on Tyler’s condition. My heart sank as I thanked the officer for calling and that I would await for an update.
As I hung up the phone, I was overcome with emotion. As I tried to explain to my wife what had just transpired over the phone, the tears began to flow. Deep down inside, I knew that something was wrong. After gathering my composure, I knew that I was going to have to call Tyler’s mother next to inform her of what was taking place.
When my phone rang again, I grabbed it quickly, eager to get a progress update. It wasn’t Officer Albert, as I had expected. Instead, the ER physician introduced himself. He explained that Tyler had been found unconscious and had gone into cardiac arrest upon arriving at the hospital. He and his team performed CPR on Tyler for three minutes, eventually regaining a pulse. He was currently intubated and on a ventilator and was to be moved to ICU.
The next words from the physician were those words that no parent ever wants to hear: “I think that you and your wife need to come up to the hospital as quickly as you can”, he said. As I hung up the phone, I could tell that I was in shock at what I had just heard.
I didn’t know if he was going to live or die; if he would be alive when I got there. What if I never get to tell him how much I love him ever again?
By 4:00 pm, I had two airlines tickets purchased for the 6:30 flight from Fort Myers to Baltimore. We would have to pick up a rental car in Baltimore and drive to Harrisburg from there. Peggy and I quickly grabbed some things, threw them into a bag and drove an hour to get to Fort Myers. We had to hurry so that we could get checked in and make to the gate in time for our flight.
I was an emotional wreck!
We arrived at BWI at 9:05 pm, found our rental car, and made haste to Holy Spirit Hospital. Tyler’s mother, Tracy, greeted us at the ICU at approximately 11:00 PM. We all watched the machines that kept Tyler breathing and alive. Connected to IV’s, breathing tubes, and monitoring devices, he didn’t even look like the son I knew.
And, we waited…