In the late hours of a frigid night in January 2012, Officer Frank Mackall was answering a call from dispatch when he hit black ice, lost control of his squad car and slammed into a tree. Frank’s wife, Lisabeth, awoke to a knock on the door informing her that her husband had been airlifted with serious injuries to a nearby hospital. Rushed to his side in a wing filled with fellow concerned officers, Lisabeth learned that Frank had sustained a serious brain injury and was in a coma. As Lisabeth remembers, “Frank’s fight for life began on that trauma unit, and 14 days later, after living through some scary moments, he was transferred to the recovery unit to begin an 84-day stay at the hospital.”
One of those scary moments occurred early on in recovery. Lisabeth bravely told the doctors to do nothing when asked whether or not to resuscitate Frank if taking off of the ventilator terribly went wrong. “I had to trust in what I felt was the right thing to do for Frank, for our family, and for the agreements with my husband,” she recalls. “I had to honor his wishes, even if it was going to end his life. Thankfully for all of us, it did not. “
Mackall lived, but sustained severe brain injuries. Each day, his family draws on their strength, hope and courage in order to thrive. For the Mackalls, courage is a key element to their ongoing daily successes. “People call our family courageous – I think it takes courage for anyone, whether they themselves or their family member are going through a health crisis, to bring themselves through to the other side, regardless of the outcome,” Lisabeth says.
“During those days we lived each moment together,” Lisabeth recalls. “The ones that he couldn’t remember I remembered for him, and as life progressed, and he remembered more, and could do more, we created new memories together.” Almost two year later, Officer Mackall’s progress has recovered to the point where he is able to play softball with his fellow officers and is studying for the Police department re-entrance exam. Lisabeth’s description of courage is a perfect reflection of Officer Mackall’s recovery, “Courage means knowing that although you are facing fears, adversity, and sometimes death. You know you can live through the moment, and breathe — one breath at a time — until you can pull your head back up and go on.”
Courage Comes in Many Amazing Forms
Do you know of someone that has amplified courage? Share your stories or give a shout out to someone who defines it to you—we’d love to hear about the courage that exists in the world.