Remembering Our Heroes

September 11th, 2012

As we approach the 11th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, and honor the lives lost that day, we wanted to share a special story relayed to us; a story of a hero lost that day, and a very special HLHSer who lives on in his memory. Thank you Lauren for sharing your story!

 

Jack Foley at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance 

 

"On September 11, 2001, my family was changed forever. My brother, FDNY FF Michael Kiefer, was one of the brave 343 firefighters who died a hero at The World Trade Center. Michael was only 25 years old when he was so violently taken from us. His life long dream was to be a FDNY Firefighter. After lots of hard work and determination, he graduated at the very top of his class. His dream was cut short after only nine months on the job when he answered his final call on September 11, 2001.

Ever since than our family has not been the same. Michael was the core of our family. He was an amazing big brother to my sister Kerri and I, and a loving son to our parents, Pat and Bud. Family was extremely important to Michael so when my sister and I were both expecting our first children together (we were due 11 weeks apart) it broke our hearts to know that our babies would grow up without their Uncle Michael. 

When I first found out I was pregnant, I prayed to my brother everyday to watch over our baby. Michael's faith was very important to him. My 20 week sonogram was scheduled for the week after my brother's birthday. Being a believer in "signs," I took the timing of our sonogram as a sign that Michael would be with us. I remember sitting in the waiting room having a "not good" feeling. I reminded the technician numerous times that we did not want to know the sex of the baby. As the test went on I could tell that something was not right, the tech was very quiet. We were told that something was wrong with our baby's heart. I was so sure that they were wrong. After some other tests it was determined that our baby had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I literally wanted to throw up when they told me exactly what it was and the prognosis for our child. From that moment on I think I spoke to my brother every second of every day and begged him to watch over his niece or nephew. The next few month were long and hard not knowing what would be.

Our son, Jack Michael, was born at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of Columbia Presbyterian on April 25, 2011. He was absolutely perfect! Looking at him you would never know he only had half a heart! Jack had his Norwood at four days old. I remember the morning of his surgery, my husband Rob and I came up from my room and we looked at Jack's monitor just like we always did when we came to his side. His heart rate read 132. I began to cry immediately! My brother was in Ladder Company 132 on 9/11! As I walked the hallway to Jack's side that morning I begged Michael to be with him during surgery. I got my sign with his heart rate reading! It had never read that before that I had noticed so to me that was Michael letting me know he was with Jack! Surgery went amazing and he recovered quickly and we were home a week and a half after surgery! Jack had his Glenn at 4 1/2 months old and once again he did amazing! We were home four days after surgery. 

Thankfully, Jack continues to defy the odds and is doing well! I have no doubt that Michael is with Jack every step of his journey. I like to believe that Jack and Michael had a little talk up in Heaven before he came to us. Michael let him know that he was going to have to be strong and I believe he gave Jack a lot of his strength! Just the other night my mom innocently asked Jack "where do you get your strength from?" He immediately pointed to my brother's picture! It was the first time anyone asked him that question and with his response tears ran down my face! Jack and my nephew, Michael Anthony, know their uncle so well and it makes us all so happy! The picture above was taken at The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in Coney Island, NY. We took Jack there and he found his Uncle Michael's picture and lovingly pointed to it and then blew him a kiss. Michael may not be here physically on earth but his memory will live on forever. His nephews will grow up knowing how much their uncle loves them. Jack's journey is a very scary and long one but I know he has the very best Guardian Angel watching over him! Please never forget the sacrifices made on September 11, 2001!"

~Lauren Keifer, mom to HLHSer Jack Michael Kiefer

 

Thank you again Lauren, for sharing this heartwarming picture of Jack and the story of your brother; two amazing, inspiring heroes.