Although the loss of our son, Jason,
has been excruciating, we face our first Thanksgiving without him
with hearts fixed on the countless blessings we've experienced over
these past 18 months.
Greatest of all was the gift of
Jason's life following his accident on June 13, 1996. When I found
him that day, I was sure he was gone. After his resuscitation by
CPR, the medical community believed his chances for survival were
But he did survive. Over the next
15 months, he recovered well enough to give all who surrounded him
great love and joy.
Among our most cherished blessings
would certainly be the ever flowing love from family and friends.
The support of our loved ones through the long nine-plus months
of Jason's hospitalization made our lives bearable and, at times,
The five months at home with our
son were a blessing that we will always cherish. Jason was extremely
happy to be home, and it showed in his face. Although caring for
him was arduous and tiring, the never-ending stream of volunteers
eased our burden and brightened Jason's life.
These wonderful, caring people were
there seven days a week to help shoulder the load. Many were friends
and many were from St. Jude's Catholic Church, but just as many
were from other churches and institutions. Some we had never met
before, and they soon came to be cherished friends. The blessing
of love from these people continues to flow into our lives daily.
The list is long of medical professionals
who helped us at every turn in the road. Most of their caregiving
went beyond what they were paid to deliver. Some refused to take
payment for their services.
We believe it was prayer that brought
Jason back from the dead. And we believe it was prayer that powered
his miraculous partial recovery. Prayer for Jason was offered across
four continents in many different languages. Thousands upon thousands
of people were involved in the prayer effort that made all our successes
possible. We thank God for all those many prayers and for the people
who offered them.
Photo by ERIC BRADY, File 1996
- THE ROANOKE TIMES
- Jason Rooker with his family while in Charlottesville
The response to Jason's death in
September warmed our hearts and drove away much of the surrounding
sorrow and pain. We received thousands of cards and letters; many
personalized with messages about the effect Jason had on their lives.
Many friends sent flowers, food and other expressions of their caring.
The funeral was a testimony to the love and concern that had been
shown Jason and our family throughout his illness. The Jason Foundation
set up to help the families of the brain-injured has received hundreds
of memorials gifts with more than $100,000 donated or promised to
date. For these gifts, we are deeply appreciative.
We're thankful, too, for the many
lessons this experience taught us. Patience. The knowledge and acceptance
of our lack of control in the world. An understanding of the difficulties
that surround living with a severe disability. The underlying goodness
of people. The unlimited power of prayer, friendship and love.
Thanksgiving is a time for acknowledging
the many blessings that God has delivered into our lives. This year,
the Rooker family has much for which to be thankful.
Greg Rooker is publisher of the
Southwest Virginia Enterprise in Wytheville and of two other papers
in Western Virginia. The Rookers' son, Jason, accidentally hanged
himself and deprived his brain of oxygen while playing in the yard
of the family's Claytor Lake home in June 1996. The former fifth
grader at Bethel Elementary School spent months in the Kluge Children's
Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville before returning to his
home where he died on Sept. 4.