I started writing this on 9/11/16. I was, of course, feeling deeply sad for the country and all those who lost loved ones on this day 15 years ago.
However, on a personal level, I am grateful that my family is able to sit in gratitude that my son, Luke Makous, is alive and thriving at college. Exactly a year ago, on 9/11/15, Luke was in a horrible car accident and nearly lost his life.
I just wanted to voice praise for all those involved in my son’s survival and recovery – from the first-responders, to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, to Saugus High School, the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church community, family, friends and neighbors.
We were completely humbled by the outpouring of love, support and encouragement that we received from the Santa Clarita Valley community.
To this day we don’t know who the first responders were, but we are eternally grateful that they recognized the level of danger Luke was in when they arrived. We are equally in awe of the speed at which Henry Mayo’s trauma team responded, getting Luke into the OR so that, with amazing skill, the trauma surgeon, Dr. Sing, and the surgery team saved my son’s life.
Then I was able to experience the commitment and caring that Henry Mayo’s ICU team had for my son during his nine-day stay in intensive care.
During this entire time, there was an outpouring of love, prayers and support from our family, neighbors, friends, my co-workers, Saugus High School and Saint Kateri Parish.
St. Kateri’s confirmation facilitators and peer leaders, which Luke was a part of, were there in a heartbeat when the church sent out emails expressing our needs.
This continued during Luke’s months of rehab at home. Oriana Johns, Linda Colderon, Sandy Tracey and Kim Griffin were committed to getting Luke to his outpatient PT appointments at Henry Mayo and any other doctor appointments that we could not get him to.
I am sure there are many other helpers whom I have unwittingly forgotten in the sleepless trauma of it all.
Besides breathing and walking again, the minute Luke was off the ventilator and could speak he was longing to get back to his senior year of school, where he loved his classes and teachers. I was grateful to be able to tell Luke that he already had the entire school eager to help in any way.
From day one at Saugus High School, Luke had incredible teachers to guide and inspire him. Their enthusiasm was infectious.
Particularly helpful were Mrs. Hilstein, Mr. DelRio, Mr. Klipfel, Mrs. Guerrero and the counselor Mr. Frieki. Luke loved going to school every day because of these teachers’ tireless efforts to make learning an adventure.
As if we weren’t sold enough on Saugus High School, their true dedication to Luke came shining through when Luke was in this accident. Cards were sent, students visited, and Mrs. Hilstein came to the hospital several times.
When I looked into home study it turned out there was no such program for a student who is taking four AP classes. However, by the grace of God, Mrs. Guerrero stepped up and volunteered to take the job.
Luke finished his first semester of his senior year with Mrs. Guerrero sitting in a chair next to him in a downstairs bed placed in the living room while he recovered. Thanks to the devoted Saugus High School teachers and staff, Luke did graduate with his 2016 class.
Our family is eternally grateful that the Hand of God was able to use Henry Mayo to save Luke’s life and St. Kateri, Saugus High School and our neighborhood community to encourage him back to his life. We love you all!
Elizabeth Makous and family live in Saugus.