I am sorry for not writing an update sooner. I think we are programmed to think that anything can get repaired or replaced. Sometimes we are allowed do-overs. I think our family, the Willadsen’s and Eifrid’s, are now feeling the completely unexpected sudden permanence of Tami and Jess’s absence from our lives as I am sure many of you are too.
Dave and Jack moved into their temporary leased home in Decatur in mid-June. Very nice home, and we are happy that the insurance relocator service was able to put it together. After getting a bit use to institutional hospital care, it took Dave and Jack a few days to set-up a new routine. Before moving Dave said he was looking forward to having exterior windows so he could see things like 'rain' again. Funny how we take so many small things for granted.
Jack is doing very well. Young children are so resilient to such tragedies. He has returned to school and is attending the same school where he has been in pre-school since he was a baby. He has many friends there, and starts kindergarten this fall. Dave told me that everyone has been kind and understanding, although Jack gets a little shy when the older girls come up and hug him. Jack has physical therapy daily and many doctor appointments, and the smaller classes there make it easier to break away and catch up when he needs to leave for his appointments. Jack is walking much better but still has a few issues with nerve damage. He has been a real trooper in how he has accepted the daily routine of wearing compression garments to help the grafts heal and keep scaring to a minimum.
Dave? You can imagine what he is going through. Dave’s memories of Tami and Jess are much more ingrained and they form the fabric of who Dave is. I am sure you can understand the heartbreak he is experiencing. Things are getting better little by little, although it doesn’t take much – a song, a place, a face – for the nearly unbearable sorrow to return as it is never far away. That said, under the circumstances Dave is handling things as well as can be expected.
Dave is also dealing with all of the uncertainties of the future; mostly in regards to Jacks’ needs – physical, mental, and financial. The Grady Hospital bill was $1.2 million. Fortunately most was covered by insurance. This does not include the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital and other bills related to Jack’s care which has also been mostly covered. It has been challenging to navigate the quagmire of medical billing in what is covered, and what is not. Maximum out of pocket doesn’t really seem to mean “maximum out of pocket”.
We have learned much about burn recoveries for small children. We did not realize that grafted skin does not grow like regular skin, so addition grafts will be needed until Jack is full grown. We did not know that skin taken from such as Jack’s stomach (donation site) will want to “think” it is still stomach skin after being grafted to his hands, and does not stretch like his natural “finger” skin. Physical therapy (mostly stretching) will be needed for life.
Fortunately through your kind donations, Dave and Jack have a cushion to help defray some of these expenses in the future. It gives Dave some peace of mind, not only for the monies itself, but all the friends and family that reached out to help and were there for them. We thought about closing this fund as the total has exceeded what we thought possible. However, we decided to keep it open for a while longer. Not to collect more funds, but more so we can continue to provide additional updates. I know at some point Dave wants to personally write an update.
In closing, this photo below is a picture of a framed photo from Tami's office at The Nature Conservancy. This is one of the most touching keepsakes I have found in Tami's belongings. At some point she received this fortune in a fortune cookie and it meant so much to her that I am sure she had that heartwarming smile on her face as she taped it to the frame. You could not go into Tami’s home and not feel the overwhelming happiness.
On behalf of Dave's family, thank you so much.
P.S. I am not sure if I posted before that we have a FaceBook page set-up in memory of Tami and Jess with pictures at; https://www.facebook.com/tamiandjess
From Tami's office.
Jack at Avondale's July 4th parade.
Jess Family portrait doodling.