Posted on June 30, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Lethan

Phone Call About the Accident: Lethan Part Two

As we have talked to the mom’s and spouses, we have consistently heard the story of the shock, the unreality of the phone call about the accident or the knock on the door.  Lethan’s mother’s story was what originally drew me to Who Am I, Again?.  His mother was in her home office when she got the phone call about the accident:


The phone call about the accident and the parents have a lot to deal with. Lethan Candlish says of the papers the hospital is pushing at his parents: "Some they are supposed to sign, some they are supposed to read..."

Lethan Candlish says of the papers the hospital is pushing at his parents: “Some they are supposed to sign, some they are supposed to read…”



‘It was late, after 8:00, I was doing some paperwork when the telephone rang.  I answered and learned that my son had been involved in a serious automobile accident.  He was in a coma?  He had been life-flighted to Geisinger Medical Center?!

And there are moments when the world will freeze.  Thoughts, emotions, it doesn’t make sense.  Frozen, as you try to comprehend what you just heard but the world continues to turn and I need to tell his father: ‘He was ….’  I put down the phone, collected my things, turned out all the lights and made sure to take the dog out before I left.  I didn’t know when I would return.’

Lethan explained in my interview with him, why the phone call about the accident was important to his story:

The story of brain injury isn’t the story about just the person who’s actually experiencing the brain injury but it’s the story about the entire community surrounding that person –  all the classmates, all the parents, the family.  That’s one of the reasons why I began to incorporate stories of my own family and my friends.  I began to recognize– whenever something so serious happens –  it’s not just about that one person.  We are by necessity social creatures and so everything that happens to us affects many, many of the people surrounding us as well.

Our core advocacy page, begins with such similar words:

“You have a phone call. From the hospital.”

Everything turns flat and dull. I pick up the phone and a voice tells me my husband has been in an accident.

Everything takes on an air of unreality.  I am so trapped in that moment that I can scarcely breathe.

Lethan’s Mom says the words that all Mom’s want to shout.

And I said ‘Lethan you will live, hear me?  You will live.’  And I closed my eyes and began to pray.”

And his father’s words sum up the sentiment of all who have waited:

And I knew you would live.  I didn’t know why I knew.  I didn’t know how I knew.  I knew it didn’t make any sense that I knew. But I knew that for once in your life you were going to listen to your mother.

Nothing a parent has to do is harder than getting phone call about the accident and to wait to learn if your child will live or die -unless it is the next phase of waiting to determine -who it is that will emerge.  As Lethan says for all survivors:  “Who am I, Again? I am Lethan.”

Next in Part Three – Waiving Au Revoir to Your Own History

By Attorney Gordon Johnson

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447