“Have Spacesuit Will Travel,” reads the shirt of Weston Yoder, 5. Over a piece of pepperoni pizza, he described all the planets (and dwarf planets!), told me about the meteorite he held at a museum in Denver and the planetarium he sat in. He said he wants to be an astronaut. Books with Curious George and YouTube videos are his sources of solar system information and inspiration. He sounds like a typical little boy – with big dreams and a vivid imagination – until you realize what’s behind the fresh scars on his scalp.
He’s been through the unimaginable the last 6 months but has achieved so much as a result of hard work and persistence. He’s an amazing little boy.
We first shared his story when we met him in outpatient rehabilitation on the Akron campus. With the help of physical therapists, he was rebuilding his strength doing the simplest acts of play: throwing, kicking and balancing. He was focused – the best he could be. Just 2 months prior to our introduction, Weston suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident that took the life of his mother. He was nearly pronounced dead at the scene.
Doctors, nurses and countless others cared for him in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for 10 days and then more than 5 weeks in the transitional care unit. He had several neurosurgeries, including a shunt most recently, dozens of stitches and countless hours of therapy here and at an elective program in Denver.
Physically he has made a full recovery already. A tutor is providing extra help in kindergarten and said he learns quickly. A lengthy neuro-psychology exam next month will compare his skills to an initial test during his inpatient stay last November.
Weston’s father Wesley has been focused to do everything he can to give his little boy a full recovery. Work wasn’t an option after the car accident so he stayed by Weston’s side constantly for 3 1/2 months until Weston returned to school.
“As you can hear, his infectious laugh is back, but he really misses his momma,” Wesley said. “She was a stay-at-home mother and they did everything together. He also has recently developed fears of losing more than just his momma.”
Their next step is grief counseling and they plan to make the long drive from Sugarcreek to attend our Good Mourning group sessions.
It’s easy to see how much these two adore each other. They show that laughter is the best medicine. In a few decades I can imagine Weston laughing his way to the moon and back.