ENID, Okla. —
“We love you, Car!” — Hennessey prom tribute
For the next week, a revolving door of doctors holding X-ray and test results entered Aguirre’s room in Oklahoma City, rarely with good news.
“Every day, there was a new injury,” Plaster said. “It wasn’t like we heard it all at the same time. Every day, they’d do a new X-ray, and they’d find something else wrong with him.”
The ball of his right hip was in four pieces. His liver and spleen had lacerations. He fractured three ribs, the C7 vertebrae in his lower neck and his right wrist. His left eyelid was split open, as were his nose and forehead, the latter requiring 12 staples to close.
Most troubling was a weakening in the wall of his aorta, where a rupture would open an uncontrollable flow of internal bleeding from the body’s largest artery.
Aguirre, who fully embraced religion after his November knee injury, converting from “a fan to a follower,” tried to lean on his faith. He tried to take the laundry list of ways his body was broken in stride, tried to laugh off his brush with death, a threat he still wasn’t free from.
But he couldn’t always.
In a moment he can’t remember — the meds did their job, he jokes now — Aguirre stared at his right knee, just days ago almost back to normal but now mangled anew, a tension cable pierced through it to keep his hip in place.
“Mom,” he asked. “Am I ever going to walk again?”
As he hurt in his hospital room, his classmates did for him in Hennessey, and members at World Harvest Church did in Enid.
“It breaks my heart,” Luetjen said. “He’s such a great kid — in 1000 different ways he’s such a great kid. The football gets taken away from him at the end, and he feels like he’s bouncing back from that, and in pretty good shape, then the car accident happens.”
The response started where the news first spread, as Facebook profile pictures became mediums of support for Aguirre — Luetjen’s own changed to a photo of Aguirre’s No. 44 and the letters IAMBK for “I am my brother’s keeper,” the football team’s motto and a phrase that took new meaning under the circumstances.
The Hennessey softball team played with “#44” on one cheek and “P4C” (Pray for Car) on the other, and visitors sat hours in waiting rooms in exchange for minutes with him.
Hennessey prom-goers even filmed a tribute for their missing classmate, and a day after the dance, Aguirre’s date for the event, Annie Duell, visited him in his room, prom dress and all.
“It was almost crazy that that many people would do that for me,” Aguirre demurred. “I look in the mirror, and I’m just Car.”