Marine Corps Corporal Jacob “George” Meek wakes up from a two-week coma with his parents next to his hospital bedside. His parents, Wade and Laurel Meek, sent the photo to the San Diego Fisher House Manager after their son woke up after he was hit by a car. The photo won Fisher House “A Day In the Life” grant contest.
Looking through “A Day in the Life” photos submitted by Fisher House Managers, each one leaves an impression. Some pictures sad, others happy, but the winning photo nearly needs no caption at all. The picture shows Marine Corps Corporal, Jacob “George” Meek, intubated, waking up from a two-week coma, pumping his fist in his hospital bed. Next to him--his parents, smiling, at his hospital bedside.
“Pretty much a month before the accident and pretty much a month after the accident is completely blank,” George Meek said.
The day after Christmas last year, Laurel Meek got a phone call that no mother wants to hear—her son was at Sharp Memorial Hospital in intensive care. A car hit George when he was walking across the street in Balboa, California. His buddy ran to get help and George was quickly taken to the nearest hospital. The accident left him with no memory of the months surrounding the incident, but his parents, stricken by grief, know every detail from the date of his injury.
“I was in shock and terrified and, it was probably the worst moment in my life.” Laurel Meek said.
George had a broken leg and pelvis. He also had bleeding and swelling of the brain and
suffered a serious traumatic brain injury. Laurel remembers asking if they could see him due to COVID and the nurse told his mother it was imperative they fly to San Diego.
As they watched and waited for positive news, they traveled to and from their hometown. They spent nearly six weeks at the Fisher House in San Diego while George was in the hospital.
“Laurel would be in Minneapolis on the weekends, and I would be up there Monday through Thursday. It's been a long six months,” Wade Meek said.
George’s father, Wade Meek, said he was only awake for a few minutes after the photo op. Wade said they took a lot of photos, trying to send positive moments to family and friends who were curious about George’s progress.
“I didn't want to send out negative stuff. We had to search every day for that one glimmer of positive that happened that day,” Laurel said.
Tiana Babcock manages Fisher House San Diego. Over the past five years, Tiana has supported families, “…whether it’s a baby being born prematurely, a training accident, or a cancer diagnosis we see all walks of life here,” Tiana said.
Through this journey, the Meek family brought positivity to the Fisher House, essential in a time when people had little interaction with masks and social distancing. Tiana said the Meeks’ optimism was infectious, allowing other families to be more optimistic about the outcome of their patients too.
“They are one of a kind, they had an incredibly tragic experience happen with their son and they remained purely optimistic throughout the whole process.”
Tiana said as she received photos of George’s progress from the Meeks, and she wanted to share the positive outcome too. She decided to submit George’s awakening photo to “A Day in the Life” Fisher House photo contest. The contest gives Fisher House Managers an opportunity to submit a photo that represents a day in the life at a Fisher House.
“I wanted to showcase George's resiliency because that's what I saw in every single picture that Laurel shared with me,” Tiana said.
The house that wins the photo contest gets a grant to support house activities and used to better serve families. Tiana said she has submitted photos in the past, but this was the first time they won.
“It shows his strength and his power, and then to see Laurel and Wade smiling with masks off, that really resonated with me because I only saw them with masks on.”
Seven months after the accident, George returned to San Diego and to the Marine Corps. He’s been running, doing pullups and even wakeboarding in preparation for heading back to work where he will continue his progress at Wounded Warrior West.