PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For the first time in days, Brendan O’Callaghan’s parents have seen him smile.
The 11-year-old got a hockey stick signed by his favorite New York Rangers player, Henrik Lundqvist.
Even as he gripped it, you could tell he’s in pain.
“Dear Brendan, you’re in our thoughts and our prayers. Best wishes, the New York Rangers,” read the note that came with the gift.
“It’s not just a game, it’s more, and they showed that,” Brendan’s father, Arnie O’Callaghan, told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis.
“It means, like, his whole life, ’cause he loves it!” added Brendan’s sister Caitlyn.
Brendan was also visited by New York Jets linebacker Avery Williamson.
Standing in Brendan’s bedroom, his father told DeAngelis it has been tough not having him home.
“I don’t think he really understands why everyone’s doing these things for him now,” Arnie O’Callaghan said. “He wakes up, he thinks he’s in a dream, like, a bad dream, and wants to get out.”
He said his son is going to need surgery and when he eventually gets out of Morristown Medical Center, he’ll need to go to a rehabilitation center. Brendan doesn’t remember being involved in the deadly bus crash. It left him with a temple bone fracture, broken collarbone, punctured lung, a concussion and he’s going to need some type of nasal reconstruction, CBS2’s DeAngelis reported.
“He’s like, ‘Did the kids go on the field trip without me? Did I miss Waterloo Village?’ He had no idea of the aftermath,” Arnie said.
He still doesn’t know about the loss of East Brook Middle School classmate Miranda Vargas and about his teacher Jennifer Williamson, who he absolutely adored. Vargas was laid to rest Monday.
“How have the past few days been?” DeAngelis asked.
“It has been a blur. I can’t believe it has already been five days. It seems like yesterday that this all happened,” Arnie O’Callaghan said.
The community is staying strong: Paramus strong.
“A lot of the kids are going to heal physically, but emotionally, it’s going to be a long road,” Arnie O’Callaghan said. “They all need support, even the ones we’re still praying on.”
It’s never going to be easy, but this week is going to be especially tough for the community. They’ll say a final goodbye to Jennifer Williamson on Thursday, and then a vigil is planned for later Thursday night at East Brook Middle School.