Less than a month before their fifth wedding anniversary, Laura Browning of Raleigh, North Carolina received a nightmarish phone call. It was the local Police Department.
Her husband, thirty-five-year-old Navy SEAL Jonathan Browning, had been in a horrific car accident and was found unresponsive by the cops. He had suffered a severe brain bleed and was in a coma with a very slim chance of survival and no clear path forward. Luckily, he still had a pulse. It was a trying time for the family, Laura was in utter shock, she was at a loss for words when she got the sad news about her beloved husband.
“I went into shock mode thinking, tomorrow he is going to wake up and be fine and walk again,” Laura said.
Little did she know that her painstaking wait was just starting. Days turned into weeks as Jon (as she fondly refers to him) slowly regained consciousness. After seventeen grueling days in the hospital, the combat medic instructor finally squeezed Laura’s hand…the expression of relief on her face was barely concealable! Finally, her patience and prayers had paid off. Even though he did not move his whole body, she was glad that he was starting to make progress and her lost hope was renewed that her husband would fully recover sooner than later.
It took a whole extra month before doctors declared him fully conscious. A month Laura lived through with earnest prayers and unflinching hope. Life had never been more uncertain.
By early April, Jon had finally stabilized and was showing daily signs of improvement. He began breathing on his own and eating without the feeding tube. He was also trying to relearn basic tasks like walking, waving and sitting as his brain recovered from the sudden trauma that was caused by the tragic crash. He still was not himself though.
“I don’t have my husband to talk to. Sometimes, when I leave the hospital at the end of the day, I think…I just miss my husband,” Laura painfully reminisces. We can only empathize with this lady who has shown remarkable fortitude in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.
Laura left their suburban home in North Carolina and traveled up North to Virginia to stay at a hotel near Jon’s rehabilitation facility. She has thus far spent nine to ten hours every single day with her dearest Jon since. Depressing though the new environment may be as compared with their home, she has had to be optimistic for both her sake and her wounded husband.
Just when Laura had begun to lose hope her husband would ever be the same, he did something the old Jon would have done with incomparable ease had he been well. While she was helping with his usual walking exercises about the facility, Jon slowly leaned over and kissed her tenderly on the neck, right below the ear. She was ecstatic!
“We had not been able to stand and hold each other since before the accident, but as soon as we got him up, he started kissing my neck,” she says of the incident she candidly caught on film and has now shared with the world. “It gave me chills – him kissing me back, you don’t realize how much that means until it is almost taken away from you.”
One ought to watch the emotive video to appreciate that spell-binding moment – the video for which has now gone viral on the Internet. The way forward is still very uncertain. Jon’s prognosis also is not exactly positive or predictable. However, Laura continues to cling steadfastly to her faith – absolutely confident that Jon will find a way to break through and thrive once again. To her, his only option is to be his old self again…for once if not forever. Jon’s honorable discharge from the military has already begun. A send-off befitting an inspiring medic combat instructor awaits Jon although it cannot be compensatory enough for a man who showed so much potential to be an even greater serviceman. The country shall dearly miss his industry.
Laura’s sister set up a Go-Fund-Me account for Jon and Laura to cover their future medical costs once her brother-in-law’s benefits run out. An impressive sum of slightly over seventy-six thousand dollars has already been raised; the family targets getting to the hundred thousand dollar mark though. You can contribute directly to improving their lives by sending any monetary contribution to the account, whatever the amount.
If you feel touched by this post, feel free to share it in honor of Laura, Jon and other gold star families everywhere in the United States and abroad – those families with members still on their arduous journey to recovery from whatever debilitating conditions the line of duty has placed them.