LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Learning to smile again is not something Laura Patton achieved overnight.
The pain of losing a child will never go away, but she can finally tell the story of her angel.
"I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant with him, and he was two and a half months old whenever he first started having seizures," Patton said. "They life-flighted him to Louisiana and could never find out why he has seizures, so he was a special needs child."
As a newborn, Brendan began physical and occupational therapy after doctors noticed his seizures.
"His doctor said that the sooner that you start with all the therapy the better the outcome," Patton said.
Doctors ran several tests but never determined the cause of the seizures.
"His diagnosis throughout his entire life was generalized seizure disorder, severe delayed development and osteopenia," Patton said.
Finding out surgery wasn't an option wasn't the only bad news the first-time mother had to handle.
"There was a doctor at one point in time that told us to no longer worry about the quantity of life, but the quality of life because we should not expect for him to live very long because there wasn't a diagnosis. I had another doctor say that we would be lucky to have him past five," Patton said.
Brendan's family never treated him differently and made sure he experienced things other children his age did.
"I wasn't going to let them take any opportunity away from him," Patton said.
Nine days before Brendan's tenth birthday he died.
Patton said losing Brendan was hard, but she has learned to cope over the past three years.
"Never give up," Patton said. "If you have a special needs child and a doctor tells you one thing, never accept that as final because there's only one final answer; and that's God's final answer."
Three months after losing Brendan, Patton changed her career.
"My motivation for coming out to the State Supported Living Center was being around individuals that were like my son," Patton said.
Now working as a rehab therapist tech, she knows her passion is to help developmentally disabled individuals.
"I train them on how to work in the community so that they can be more independent," Patton said.
Patton's two daughters are her driving force each day, and she strives to keep their brother's memory alive.
"I still have his picture in my nametag," Patton said. "I carry it with me every day. I have for three years."