Mike Hayes, the 13-year-old bicyclist struck last month in a hit-and-run crash near his house, doesn't remember a thing from the devastating accident that nearly killed him.
But after days in a medically induced coma, weeks under sedation and the first of what promises to be months of rehab, Hayes was overjoyed on Thursday to be finally back in his Brentwood house, just in time for Christmas Eve.
And his parents were ecstatic.
"Through the grace of God," his dad, Russell Hayes, 52, said after making his son macaroni, "Mike is back with us."
The family Christmas tree, topped with a star, is fully decorated at the Hayes home on Spur Drive North. Nearby are Hayes' crutches and a wheelchair.
Suffolk County police say the driver of the gray vehicle that hit the boy on Nov. 21, at Carleton Avenue near Spur Drive North, didn't stop and has yet to be caught.
"I'm glad I don't remember anything from that day, because that would really suck," Hayes said, sitting on the living room couch with his three closest friends, whom he called over for the homecoming.
What Hayes does remember are the injuries the crash inflicted, including to his jaw and ankle. Since the crash, he's 11 pounds lighter, dropping to 121 pounds.
"My front teeth cracked and . . . my bottom teeth broke. I fell on my face, so my nose broke and was pushed up into my head, but was very, very close to my brain, so I could have died from it," he said. "My entire face was broken, so they had to do surgery. They put metal under my eyes."
It's been a tough road to recovery: Even after waking up from the sedation, Hayes had to undergo intense physical, occupational and speech therapy.
He had trouble speaking at first. He'd forget the name of common objects, like a drawer, he said. He'd inadvertently repeat himself.
"Repeating myself got better by itself," he said. He paused.
"Um, what was I saying?" he asked. "That's what I'm talking about - losing my memory."
Even after the injuries, Hayes is still very much an ordinary kid, squabbling with his parents about which foreign language he wants to take in school ("I'm taking Italian: Hell, yeah!" he high-fived his friend); rattling off an only-in-your-dreams Christmas gift list (a plasma screen TV, a new PlayStation video game console and the "Guitar Hero: Van Halen" game, to which his father teased: "I think we got him a Slinky or something,") and getting chided for emitting noises a 13-year-old boy thinks are highly amusing.
"That's disgusting, Mikey," his brother James, 23, said after his brother belched during a family photo.
"Yeah, I know," was Hayes' smiling rejoinder.
Back in November, the family had kept the Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer as their youngest son clung to life in the hospital.
It was thawing Thursday afternoon.
Hayes can't chew because of his broken teeth and rubber bands in his mouth put there by doctors, but his mother Nancy, 50, says she'll make him turkey soup.
She said the homecoming made this year's Christmas "the best ever in my life."
During the weeks her son was in the hospital, the couple kept vigil at his bedside; Russell slept in the hallway.
"The worst is over. He just has to get stronger and hopefully get back to a routine," said Nancy Hayes, sitting next to her husband and their daughter, Angela, 26. "It might take two to three months, but at least it's only two or three months out of his life, and it'll be a memory one day."
Said Hayes, an eighth-grader at South Middle School in Brentwood: "I'm just very glad to be home with my family." He paused and laughed, "And get presents."