The Butterfly Effect

Sam’s medical status:  My sister Joy is staying with Sam and Erin for a week.  I called her on Wednesday to get her opinion on Sam after spending a few days with him.  It’s interesting to get other peoples take on Sam since there is so much emotion involved—it’s hard to know what is reality and what is hope sometimes when we see a finger move or any eyebrow raise after saying his name. 

Stevie Nicks and ErinJoy had some wonderful insight about Sam and how he is reacting to various stimuli.   I’ve mentioned in the past that we occasionally see small movements from Sam, like opening his eyes, blinking and a little hand movement—but Joy is even seeing more than what I observed when I was there last week.  We also talked to Erin on the phone and she confirmed what Joy is saying.

Sam’s head is normally leaning a little to his left but Joy noticed that when Erin is on his right, even with his eyes closed, Joy noticed that his eyes are trying to follow Erin’s voice.  When his eyes are open she can also see that they are tracking to follow Erin—it’s real slight and slow going, but it’s happening.  Joy also noticed that Sam shows frustration in his face when he is uncomfortable and needs some assistance like suctioning out his mouth (he’ll blow bubbles when suction is needed).  He’s also coughing a lot more on his own which means they don’t have to push the suction tube down his trach tube as far (which makes him gag) when they want to get gunk out of his lungs. 

When Joy was massaging Sam’s feet, she noticed he was pushing back a little with his toes.  I was massaging his feet last week and never noticed any movement.  So—there are little things he is doing to communicate in the limited way he can.  Erin also got quite a surprise when Sam actually squeezed her hand once on Wednesday! 

It’s interesting that although Sam is still in a coma, there are actually times when he’s more awake (for lack of a better word for a person in a coma) and times when he is more in a regular sleeping state.  When he is more “awake” his eyes will occasionally be open and he will blink.

butterfly on pink flower A small butterfly flaps it’s wings:  There is a theory called The Butterfly Effect that basically goes like this – A butterfly flapping it’s wings in one part of the world could cause a tornado in a completely different part of the world.  I don’t know if this is good science or not, but I think it’s a good metaphor for the every day things that we do that may seem insignificant to us, but may have a life changing effect on someone else’s life. 

In our American culture we are constantly bombarded with “bigger, better, faster, younger, slimmer, etc.” to the point where we can get brainwashed into thinking that we are insignificant and the things we do as individuals won’t really count for much. 

My daughter sits quietly and faithfully in the hospital every day—speaking to Sam, massaging his limbs, sometimes fasting, but always praying for his complete recovery.  This is all very natural for her and she doesn’t quite understand the comments people make in this blog about her being special and is a little embarrassed about the attention she is getting.  Erin said she’s just doing what any wife would do in her situation.  In the mean time, people who come in contact with Sam and Erin are touched by their love for each other, Erin’s faithfulness as a wife, her courage as a caregiver and her strength and determination as a witness to the power of love. 

I’ve heard wonderful stories of people (after reading about Sam and Erin in this blog) giving donations to the wonderful charities listed in the blogroll…I’ve heard of folks adopting servicemen who are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I even heard of a gentleman who said Erin and Sam’s story changed his life around.  I’m sure there are many other stories of people who have been touched in a positive way by Sam’s journey to recovery.    

What is the message in all of this?  Stop trying to be the fastest or greatest or biggest.  Simple and ordinary acts of prayer, love and faith in God’s healing power that seem like the flap of a butterfly’s wing have the potential to move mountains and to create miracles in our lives or the lives of others.  Be grateful—for the ability to get out of bed in the morning, the ability to walk up a flight of stairs, for the ability to go to work everyday, for the ability to use our lives to spread kindness and love to others…for the gift of life!

We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life. 

Ephesians 2:10 (NJB)

Family Travel News:  Julie (Erin’s mother) and Eric (Sam’s father) will both be flying into Bethesda Friday September 7th to spend time with Sam and Erin. 


14 Responses to The Butterfly Effect

  1. Hi Tony, Erin and family,
    Thank you for sharing what you have above concerning Sam. I believe we heal as we write. I also believe that God can turn what the devil meant for evil into good. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Psalm 139 gives us comfort because God knows the extent of our days. God knows the plans He has for Erin and Sam, but most of all God knows the plans He has for Sam. With all things there is a learning curve. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Learning just takes what it takes and that is good enough, just for today.

    Through my journey I have come to believe that I need to trust the process, a loving God and myself. God has the big picture and He does not sleep or slumber. I do the footwork and trust God with the outcomes. I have also found that life is best lived one day at a time.

    Several months ago I wrote a post that you may find of comfort: Following your bliss…regardless. I will include the url of the post here.

    Please keep in touch with me.

    Craig J. Phillips
    Second Chance to Live

  2. Arianna (Fine) Villalpando says:

    Well you made me cry today, but thanks for that:) I have this web page saved under my favorites to pop up every day just so I can see how Sam is doing. I don’t know even know Sam or Erin personally but have heard of them through my mom, and still something leads me to check up on them to await the good news. I am a true believer and for those who know me know that I think everything happens for a reason so whether we may not understand it I know God does things for a purpose so for one to hurt so much theres a much deeper meaning to his life. I noticed already on this blog that it has had 19,009 hits so this incident is touching others on a daily basis. I pray and think of the family often and am truly thankful for life and I can’t wait for the day I can meet Erin and Sam when we awakes because I know the day will come. Thanks Again, Arianna

  3. Sam, I have prayed every day that you will wake up and have 100% memory. I also have to remember that GOD’s will, not mine be done. WAKE UP! Casa Roble is having a three year joint class reunion later this month and I have asked my friend ,Alan Hunter, who is organizing the reunion to let the rest of our classmates now of your condition and to send out prayers for your complete recovery. I hope you get to come to Palo Alto soon. We miss you and can’t wait to see you.
    Love, Uncle David

  4. It was so good to get the email today about there being an update on the blog. Tony, you did a fine job! Made me cry, again; but that’s okay. I enjoyed the picture of Erin with Stevie Nicks. Erin, don’t forget to eat, girl; we don’t want you to blow away! My continued prayers for Sam. Joy’s insight is very heartening. I strongly recommend Soldiers’ Angels. I’m working with them and was just in contact with our local coordinator, Melanie Sims. I shared with her that I’d like to see us involved at the local level with our returning, wounded veterans. That is her main objective, as well. So, it is my hope that we’ll be working more closely with the local VA hospital at Mather and other regional facilities. God bless you all….

  5. kabbruzzi says:

    Wow what an update! That makes 2 of us who cried today when reading it. I continue to pray each and every day that it will be the day that Sam wakes up. And he IS going to wake up. Sam, Erin and Family you are so special and have inspired so many. Your strength, courage, determination and faith have touched me deeply. God bless you all, and I know that I”m going to be reading more and more updates with Sam’s progress. Sam is an American Hero, and that means that inside him he has the strength, courage and bravery to help him fight this battle and win it. And you can all count on the prayers and support from out here, that’s a promise. :0)

    – Kris, a Soldier’s Angel from Rhode Island

  6. Albion Wilde says:

    Tony, What a beautiful, beautiful post. I am in awe of your daughter, and of the love and spirituality expressed in your entire families of both Erin and Sam. May God bless all of you deeply for your faithfulness. I’m reminded of the Bible stories of Jesus that show how He blessed the many who truly had faith in Him in their hearts, while the Pharisees made a great show of the outward rituals.

  7. Denny G says:

    Thank you for this wonderful update, Tony. Sam, Erin, and your entire family are in my prayer time each day. I am humbled to witness the grace our Lord has provided to each of you. May He continue to heal Sam, strengthen Erin and hold you all in His loving arms. Please tell us, in addition to prayer and encouraging words, how we may help. -dg

  8. I made my stair climb yesterday, and I looked back down the stairs, and said”That was for you Sam, God please help Sam today, and everyday, in Jesus name.”

    Roamans 5 says:
    1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

    Keep the Faith, and keep in your minds that God is totally in control of this…
    God Loves You all, and God Loves Sam!

  9. I just recently found your Blog about Sam. I have read the stories and all of the blogs.
    Sam and Erin, you are in my thoughts and prayers. And yes Erin, you are truly a special and remarkable woman.
    I am one of the Troop Greeters here in Maine and have seen many men and women pass these halls. I pray constantly for all of you so that you may make it back home with your loved ones.
    Erin, just know that I will be praying for both of you. I’m not a very religious person, but with my son being over there twice, I have learned how to pray and I continue to do so for all of our military.
    I look forward to reading about Sam’s progress, and there will be continued progress.
    Debbie in Maine

  10. no name says:

    I’m alittle confused why Stevie’s picture is in your article? Am I missing something?

  11. Alberto Omar Perez says:

    I am really touched by all this that im reading. everyone praying for this individual, a true hero, whom I not yet, and hope that will one day, meet…an individual named Sam…and whom many people are praying…God knows why all this publicity for Sam….perhaps, he is using him to make people realize so many things…i know he has for me….complaining cus the person if front of me on my way to work is driving the legal limits and im running latte to work…complaining that i fogot something downstairs in the kitchen and get mad at my son for not wanting to bring it up for me, complaining about waking up in the morning to go to work, complaining about my clothes not being presses right and realizing it 10 minutes before i leave to work…all these STUPID, DUMB WASTE OF TIME COMPLAINTS!!!!! and here is a person lying in bed…alongside his wife Erin, whom has a lot of faith, and who defines what a couple should be doing…..FOR GOOD FOR BAD, IN SICKNESS, etc….i dont remember the rest of the vows we do in front of GOD mind you, and yet how many of us really mean it……I can go on and on and on but i think you got my point….SAM, ERIN, from today 0ctober 12, 2008…I will be praying for both you…..that one day, you both will be a happy couple again and just live life to the fullest…..thank you so much for being a REAL HUMAN BEING……YOU BOTH ROCK!!!!!
    p;s; If you speak to Stevie Nicks again, tell her that she hasa big fam in Laredo, Texas………..

  12. Jim Duff says:

    Thank You for your service and sharing, I will be praying for you in Sonora CA.
    I have felt the Butterfly Effect……it is real

  13. Ian says:

    I was looking for a picture of a flower with a butterfly so I could paint it on my young daughter’s wall in her bedroom when I cam across your blog. Thank you for sharing your life with others and showing us the power of love (and faith). My prayers will be with you all tonight.

  14. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my
    own blog and would like to know where u got this from.
    thank you

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