SACRAMENTO - When a head injury on the football field left Sacramento Wildcats player D'Ondre Ransom in a coma earlier this month, the toll on his family was overwhelming. His wife, who is on active duty in the Army, brought some relief when she returned to the family on emergency leave.
But Tuesday the family faced a painful goodbye.
Army Specialist Jessica Ransom said going back to her base in Georgia with so much left uncertain is one of the many sacrifices she has to make as a soldier.
"You would think he would be safe. You'd think he'd be fine back home," Jessica Ransom said as she prepared to board her plane at Sacramento International Airport.
D'Ondre Ransom was injured during a game with the semi-pro Wildcats April 5 in Santa Rosa. His mother said he fell down after he was hit. He got back up, fell again and then stopped breathing.
Families fear that phone call about their loved ones away at war, but soldiers know that same dread all too well.
"Each military service member basically fears these phone calls from home," Jessica said.
She knows first hand the severity of traumatic brain injuries, having suffered them herself in Afghanistan, but she never expected her husband to suffer the same fate in a game.
"To have to explain it to his kids, and to have to leave my kids on top of that knowing that they usually have their father to fall back on, that's just another horror story for a soldier again," Jessica said.
Family members said doctors have asked them about taking D'Ondre off life support, but they have not made a decision. Now as she makes her way across the country, back to work, Jessica said all she can do is hope and pray for her husband's condition to improve.
"I am grateful to be in this uniform, and I will take on any responsibility just for this flag and for this country, but I just want everyone to be aware that we are still out there," Jessica said.
After two weeks of leave, Jessica isn't sure when she'll be able to come home again. In the meantime, her family will take care of her children.