HOLDENVILLE, Okla. - He’s not physically on the field anymore, but he’s here in other ways. In the Muscogee Creek language, Oske means rain.
"I've just been really grateful to still have him here,” Oske Lowe’s mother, Nancy Randall, said.
And alive. He’s no longer fighting on the field. Oske is now fighting a different battle.
"It can be hard and exhausting, but you'll do whatever you need to do for your child, but we've come a long way,” Nancy said.
A long way since two years ago. It was the fourth quarter when Oske stepped off the field.
"He had a big headache that he just couldn't take anymore,” Nancy said. “I don't know how long he played with that headache."
He told his coaches he couldn’t keep playing with the escalating pain. Oske started getting agitated. Even the sound of voices hurt. He was carried off the sidelines. His body went limp. It was the last time he ever walked or talked. Oske was airlifted to OU Medical Center where he stayed for months. His life was in limbo. Nobody knew from one day to the next if he’d make it.
"At that time, it was if he makes it out of the hospital,” his mother said.
Two year later. It is still day by day.
"It's crazy how much you learn from something like this. A life changing event. How you learn to live and take everything day to day,” Nancy said. “You don't look too far ahead."
Since March 2017, Oske’s been home with around the clock care. A hospital grade bed. A feeding tube. Lining the walls of his room are jerseys and pictures of what used to be. But you’ve got to wonder how much Oske understands. Is he aware of his surroundings? His family says yes.
"He smiles when he acknowledges anything or anyone. He'll give a giggle,” Nancy said.
Though his improvements seem small, they’re huge – all things considered.
"His school therapists and teachers can see a difference from last year to this year how much more work they can get out of him,” his mother said.
Or how much they don’t. There is still a streak of ornery teenage boy.
"He'd have therapists come in, and the days he didn't want to work or who he wanted to worth with he'd act like he was sleeping, because he didn't want to participate,” Nancy said.
"They are times when he seems like he wants to speak, and he tries to get something out, and that's something he didn't do a few months ago."
Doctors say Oske suffered a subdural hematoma bleeding of the brain – a blood clot that ruptured. His family doesn’t know how he got it or when. Nobody knows.
"I think about it all the time,” Nancy said. “If it was that game, if it was the game before, if it was during practice."
"I've looked through pictures that were taken that night. I looked at his eyes,” she said. "I've tried to get answers, but there's no clarity. That's what's difficult. Just sitting here wondering."
Oske’s prognosis is up to the same vital organ that controls everything else – his brain.
"It's still what the brain can do as it heals. They just say it's up to the brain,” Nancy said.
Friday nights aren’t the same anymore. The crush of helmets is unbearable to hear. Nancy steers clear of the high school football field except on one special night. For the second year in a row every player on the high school football team wears a special green jersey made in honor of Oske and traumatic brain injury awareness. They call this “Oske Night.”
"It means a great deal for everyone to show their support and play in his honor,” Nancy said. "It's just truly a blessing to still have him here with us."
In the gentle reminders of mother nature on a night meant just for him or in the face of a boy now almost unrecognizable, Oske is still here.
"Sometimes it's a challenge but nothing we haven't got through,” Nancy said. “He still smiles. I still smile."
Oske is now 19 years old. Holdenville High School made him an honorary graduate and allowed him to “graduate” with his senior class.