All Original Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
Several weeks ago, my nine year old Grandson, Sammy was in an automobile accident. He was riding his bike, on his mother’s quiet street in New Paltz, when he was hit by a speeding SUV. My daughter, Alexandra, not wanting to worry Eunice and I, didn’t inform us, until the following day, as soon as she got the news that Sammy would be OK.
Yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t related the story that Alex told me to my friend, Cyndy Stevens. It was she who launched me on the journey of creating this website, many years ago, and we are still good friends, today. Cyndy is a devoutly religious person, and I knew that she would find this story moving. Meanwhile, thinking about this website, it occurred to me that It has been a long time, since I added something new. With that in mind, I invite you to read Cyndy’s letter, too.
I would like to share a story with you that I am convinced is true. I also believe that it is evidence of a Miracle. I will relate it to you, without undue emotion, just as it was told to me by Alexandra, calling from the Westchester Children’s Hospital. Alex is really quite amazing. She is that fabled person who can keep their head, when everyone about them, are losing theirs. Because I don’t want this tale to be upsetting, or needlessly keep you in suspense, let me assure you, ahead of time, that Sammy is all right!
Alex waited to call us, until the evening of the day after the accident took place. She knew that if she had told us before she was assured that Sammy was OK, we would go crazy with worry, and rush down to the hospital, even though, a trip like that would be daunting for me, these days.
On the afternoon of the day before, Alexandra, her boyfriend, Mathew, and Sammy were riding their bicycles, on the quiet street outside of New Paltz, where she and Matthew live. It is called a dead-end street, and very well might have lived up to that name! It’s better that I describe it as a “cull de sac.” It terminates at the border of the NY Throughway, two houses past their own. The house at the very end of the street is sort of a daycare, perhaps, not officially. The woman who lives there takes care of a houseful of kids on weekdays. She must be doing well, as she and her husband drive a Mercedes SUV. The main road, and only entrance to this neighborhood is about half a mile away, and the street has practically no traffic. It winds through a small community of newly built homes that number, maybe, a dozen, in total.
Sammy was riding out in front. As he got to the place where the road turns, he glanced behind to see if Matthew and his mother were following. At that instant, the Mercedes SUV sped around the corner at 45 miles an hour, and slammed right into Sammy. The bike was demolished, and Sammy literally took flight. He sailed through the air, and landed on a lawn, some twenty feet away. Thank God, he was wearing a helmet! Alex immediately ran to him, and straddled his body to keep him stationery. She shouted to the woman who had been driving, asking her to call 911. Both she and her husband, had left their vehicle and were standing beside it, crying. Naturally, they both had a cell phone in their hand, (doesn’t everyone, these days?) so, they both dialed 911.
Meanwhile, Matthew fell onto the grass, and assumed a fetal position. And, as Alex describes it, began honking like a goose. He is not good in a crisis. Thank God, Alexandra is! Sammy was unconscious. His eyes were white, as his pupils had rolled back up inside his head. Alex kept calling to him: “Sammy, Sammy, wake up! It’s Mommy! Come back to me!” A few minutes later, his eyes focused, and he regained consciousness. There is no telling how much time had passed. When Alex finally looked up, she discovered that she was surrounded by several police cars, an ambulance, and a crowd of neighbors. The local newspaper was there, as well, taking photographs.
The paramedics took over. They strapped Sammy, securely on a stretcher, and rushed both him and Alex by ambulance, with sirens screaming, to Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie. When the ambulance arrived there, the interns hurriedly rolled Sammy, stretcher and all, into the hospital on a gurney. He was admitted immediately, and given a series of tests that included: X-rays, an MRI, a cat scan, everything! The doctors came to the conclusion that Sammy had been impacted on his spleen, and, although, he had many cuts and scratches, no bones were broken. But there was internal bleeding. In order to determine the severity of his injuries, Sammy would have to be transported to the Westchester Children’s Hospital, by helicopter!
This is the part that is amazing. As they waited for the helicopter, the Emergency Room Admissions lady, who admitted Sammy to the hospital, came to Alex, in tears. Shaking with emotion, and sobbing, she told her: “I saw your son’s Guardian Angel! As they wheeled him into the hospital, there was a white figure, floating in the air above his gurney!”
Toots was taken aback, but she’s smart and quick, and never at a loss for words. So, she replied, “I bet you say that to all the parents of injured children who are admitted to the hospital; don't you?”
The woman replied, “I have been admitting patients, here, for thirty years, and I swear that I have never seen anything like that before.”
Soon, Alex found herself, riding beside the pilot in the front seat of a largely transparent glassed in helicopter. Sammy was in the compartment, behind her, attended to by a pair of paramedics. The flight was terrifying! There were windows everywhere, including in the floor, so Alex could see everything below, and it felt like she was flying. And, because it was a windy day, the flight was rough and turbulent.
At Westchester Children’s Hospital, the doctors explained that, once the extent of Sammy’s spleen injury was assessed, the severity of the damage would be judged, on a scale of one to five. If it was a five, it would be necessary to surgically remove his spleen. Apparently, one can live without one. Thus, Sammy went through another battery of tests. The following day, the medical team informed Alexandra that Sammy’s injuries amounted to a three. Therefore, they would give his spleen an opportunity to heal, without an operation, but he would need to stay immobile in the hospital for a week. And then, if all went well, he would have to remain in bed for another week, at home.
Throughout all this, Sammy was fantastic. He’s a great kid! He was not happy that he had to use a bed pan, but they wouldn’t allow him to get out of bed. Alex stayed with him for the entire week. She called into her job, and told the owner that she would be away for seven days. She slept, sitting up, in the chair beside Sammy’s bed. On the evening of the second day, the doctors told Alex that Sam would be OK. It was then that she left him, momentarily, to call us and his dad.
Sammy was great. He never lost his sense of humor. His father came to visit him the next day. And, he dropped in every day, thereafter. The animosity between Warren and I is open warfare, so at Alex’s suggestion, and being that Sammy was all right, we stayed away. After a few days, some very nice men, twin brothers, who are New York Rangers visited the hospital to cheer up the patients. Such nice people! It shows in this photo. Sammy is not a sports fan, and knows nothing about hockey, but he was grateful.
Upon seeing this photo, Eunice reminded me that our friend, Kenneth Anger wore one of these Rangers jackets, for years, with the letters R and S removed.
On the third day, Sammy said to Alex, very matter-of-factly: “You know Mommy, I’m glad that that I was hit by that SUV!”
“Sammy! Why would you say that?”
“I was in the most wonderful place! And I never felt better in my life! Everything was so beautiful! I wanted to stay there. Then, I heard you calling me, and, I knew you needed me, so I came back!”
Sammy lives a simple life; all he does, most of the time, is play video games. He has no interest in movies or TV. I can assume, with certainly, that he has never heard one of those reality shows, in which some kid relates a similar incident. Sammy, in spite of all the curse words he has learned, playing video games on the internet, is an innocent. He was just telling his mother what took place. He didn’t see this event as a big deal. It was almost an afterthought to even mention it.
So that’s what happened! I have no reason to disbelieve anything that Alex told me. Of course, as you know, I have an appetite to believe in everything. So, I am not critical, and I certainly have no right to doubt anything, at least, not in this case.
Sammy remained in the hospital for a week, and then, went to his father, Warren’s place, where Warren made him stay in bed for two weeks, just to make sure he was OK. Sammy is excused from gym class for a year, which is fine with him. That’s one trait, I guess, he inherited from me! When all is said and done, I do believe that this was something of a Miracle. And It fills me with joy, and a sense of security to realize that Sammy has a Guardian Angel. I think my daughter must have one too, or is sharing Sammy’s, for she has really turned her life around. Amen!
After I sent this to Cyndy, I sent a copy to Alex, and asked her: “ Did I get this right? Did I screw it up, or omit anything?”
She emailed me: “Hi dad. Yes, that was perfect. Could not have said it better myself. Also mention the surgeon who called me outside to tell me it was a miracle how fast his scrapes healed on the side of his body.”
I emailed back, and asked: “A Miracle? Is that the word he used?”
She replied: “Yes, he called me outside of the room, and said it was an actual miracle.”