'Thank you' from a local father

Aug 9, 2016

Dartmouth resident Philip Norton and his son, Braiden, recently returned from Boston, where Braiden, 11, spent more than a month recovering from brain surgery. The elder Norton says he is humbled by the support the family received. He thanks the community in the following column.

For the first time in forty days, I lay here in my own bed and can hear my 11-year-old son yawn peacefully in his room next door. It's surreal.

In June, Braiden had another brain surgery, this time in New York City, in response to a tumor we've been dealing with for nearly 10 years. The projected recovery time of 3-5 days turned into more than a month, the majority of it taking place at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Since then, Braiden and I have received more than 100 greeting cards and trunk loads of gifts and prayers. Soon he will wake up, and we will go out for breakfast like we used to. Thirty-six days ago, I was hanging onto my faith by a thread. Here I am now, writing another "thank you" letter.

This letter is not about what my son and I have just lived through. This is to acknowledge every single one of you whose prayers, thoughts, and wishes for health and recovery filled the room even during the darkest moments. The abundance of greeting cards and gifts that trickled in daily overwhelmed us with a sense of love. Every single offering, from the smallest thought to the largest gift, played a role in keeping our foundation strong.

I cringe at the thought of failing to craft the proper heartfelt message. You deserve so much more than a bland, generic communication. I'm well aware that it could be looked upon as being improper to mention names when there are hundreds—if not thousands—of people I could mention. However, I'm confident that most everyone involved is already aware of these two people—Laura Brockel and Cathy O'Berry.

I tear up as I write this part. You chose many years ago to associate yourselves with our walk. You established the very community I thank today. You sat next to me every single minute of the darkest and brightest moments. You educated yourselves and researched alongside me. You kept a concerned community informed when I couldn’t. You chose to put your lives on hold many times over the past nine years, and you are still here. You are proof on this planet that the word "family" can overstep its proper definition and reach across actual ancestry.

At the end of the day, I guess the words "thank you" can be like a glass of water, full or empty. Maybe it's the words that surround it which make that determination. I hope I've made this glass overflow.

From Braiden and me, to every single one of you, thank you. With your help, we are back.