Jake is a sweet, caring, tender-hearted boy. The cuddliest of his brothers, he clung to his momma like nobody's business. He was such a momma's boy that he would not let anyone at our church daycare hold him until he was two - no one that is, but me.
His big brother Jarin was in my preschool class for two years.
Their momma, Jeannie, worked with me when I taught and we became friends.
Last year, on July 2nd tragedy struck. I was snuggling on the couch with an almost asleep Z scrolling through Facebook posts on my phone, when I saw this status from his daddy:
"PLEASE PRAY FOR MY BOY JAKE...OUR TV FELL ON HIM AND HE IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION!"
I immediately lifted Z off of me, I told her that we must pray for our friend Jake - that he was really sick and that he needed God RIGHT THEN.
I was in shock and fought every one of my gut reactions to drive straight to the hospital. What was I going to do in the ER in the middle of the night with a 2 year old? I knew that there were people there with them - pastors from the church, friends, family. I knew from Facebook updates that other women had gone to care for sweet Jarin, so that his dad could be with Jake.
I knew from the stream of information that he had grabbed Jake and Jarin and had bolted straight to the hospital, I knew that he did not have a shirt or even shoes on when he arrived. I knew that Jake had stopped breathing, that they were looking at surgery.
Above all else, I knew that this family was being cared for - so as much as I loved them all, as much I felt like I should be there, I stayed back and let them have their space to cope. To not have to answer questions, to not have to feel responsible for me, to not feel like they needed to entertain me.
Instead, I sent e-mails to all of my friends and family - believers and non-believers - asking for prayers, kind thoughts. I was glued to the newsfeed waiting to hear the latest. I volunteered to take meals to the family on Monday afternoons, I sent his momma text messages letting her know that I was there for them if they needed me - but I gave them the space that they needed.
That 4th of July was probably the most difficult holiday weekend - waiting to hear news about Jake while at the same time wanting to make sure that my family was out trying to enjoy life to its fullest. The statuses were good, then bad and then just a short while later good again.
No one was certain if he was going to make it. There was talk of brain damage, of surgeries, blood and brain pressures. Things looked very bleak for quite a few days.
Through all of this, I kept seeing a vision. A vision of his parents standing in front of a church congregation speaking of the greatness of God, the goodness of grace - I knew that He had a purpose for Jake's life and that things would be okay.
I updated friends and family as often as I could by text and e-mail.
The first time that we went to see him at the PICU, he seemed so very small surrounded by giant machines and covered in tubes. His face was covered in bruises, his hair had been shaved off. Everything was swollen.
His mother talked to him softly and a nurse came in to change his bandages and administer his medicine. I stared at the numbers on the machine - since my father had died due to pressure on his brain, I knew how important the numbers I was looking at were. My eyes shifted over to the boy laying in the bed as I tried to keep the tears from flowing down my face. To keep those memories at bay.
The nurse went to put eyedrops into his eyes and he began to struggle against her. Thank you, God, for showing me that that boy is still in there somewhere. When they were done, I looked at Jeannie - "Our boy is gonna be alright, he's still here." She smiled, encouraged.
We took the opportunity to talk, to get her off of the unit for a few minutes. I was so glad that I had waited to come when I would be a blessing and not a burden. She seemed relieved by my presence.
Jake was in the PICU for a month. He had to have two brain shunts put in because the first did not work. He had a feeding tube and had to be weaned from the pain medication.
He spent another month at a rehab hospital in Atlanta. The original estimate was that they would be there for 3-6 months but he improved so fast once he was awake that they couldn't keep him anymore.
At less than 5 months after the accident - Jake walked into Z's birthday party. He was quiet, but enjoyed running around with the other children. Most of the people there didn't even realize that this was the boy that I had been e-mailing them about during the summer. From all outward appearances - you would never even know his story.
He turned 5 this past Mother's Day and had cake and a party. He loves SpongeBob Squarepants and playing with his big brothers. He is making huge strides, everyday.
Jake continues to go to therapy. He is working on his speech and physical strength.
I know that this little boy has great things in store for his future. I know that he will bring people to God through his story (so many have already).
He is a miracle and every day his story works miracles in all of our lives. I am so blessed to know his family and to share his story.
The family still needs support as insurance has been exhausted on his treatments and his mom has stopped working to take care of him. Donations can be made to
Florida Commerce Federal Credit Union
Warner Jake Dawson Account, #138815
P.O. Box 6416