A few weeks ago I wrote about Alli’s friend who had a stroke the first of March. Several of you have asked about her and I’d like to thank you for keeping her in your thoughts.
Through Sophie’s event, there are so many things we are all re-learning…maybe not language skills or how to walk again, but maybe more about life and how we are all connected and we are here to help each other.
We share mutual friends but Sophie’s mother, Marabeth and I have only met a handful of times in passing. Even so, she has become one of my heroines. She never waivers from her positive attitude and the belief that her child is going to rock the world of recovery.
And you know what? She’s right.
Less than 2 weeks after the stroke, Sophie spoke her first words. They were:
Marabeth has been posting each day about Sophie’s stroke, her surgery, her recovery and everything in between. Her main purpose is to have a written record for Sophie when she reaches a point where she wants to start piecing things together. She described this major event of Sophie’s first words so well, that I have asked her permission to share with you. (Thank you, Marabeth.I think this officially means you are my first guest writer!)
About 4:45 Sophie stirred and wanted to speak. She worked on it for about 15 minutes and got out the words (all separately) ‘can’, ‘you’, ‘give’. These words were repeated over many times, and it was clear she was searching for the words that expressed what she wanted to say, as well as the way to say them. I never could tell …if the words she was saying were the ones she meant to say, or if she was continuing to look for other words she couldn’t yet get hold of.
As she was thinking and concentrating so intently, her left hand (the one that moves freely) was literally manifesting a brain hard at work. She had her fingers working the frayed pink cloth of material that used to be her baby blanket, bunching it up, releasing it, starting over, and then her fingers would rehearse what she has learned so far–1,2,3,4,5–1,2,3,4,5. I could literally see her brain rehearsing the new connections, searching for a way to make a newer connection, practicing, redoing, searching, and then trying to form with the mouth. When she did speak a word, her voice was weak but clear. It is clear that the mental work she is doing is of the most exhausting and taxing sort. She finally fell asleep from exhaustion. But I think it wasn’t out of frustration–although there will be plenty of that, because if you know Sophie at all, you know she is a communicator!
I have no doubt that Sophie is learning things about communication that most of us have never conceived of–she has to work for every single word. It makes me think of all the times I say things I don’t mean, or I convey something that is actually extremely important to me but in a sloppy way. But mostly, I am struck with how her first words (whether they were the ones she meant to say or not) go straight to the heart of the matter for me–‘can you give?’ Can I give…my heart? Can I give…up my demands for what I think life should be and love what it actually is? Because it’s a miracle. Can I give…
Sophie has always asked the tough questions. I see that nothing has changed. More to come later…
BIG BIG DAY!:
She finally spoke the words that she meant to say– she struggled with ‘you’ and ‘there’ and ‘cue’ and combinations of these sounds. Then finally she looked at me and said ‘Thank….you’. Needless to say, when I said, ‘Thank you?’ her face lit up with the biggest smile in recognition that what she meant to say had been understood.
What an angel…thanking me? Thanking me when I am the one getting the biggest gift of my life, being able to walk by this beautiful, courageous creature’s side while she faces the biggest challenge of her life and shows so many people what is possible.
I imagine that going through this kind of ordeal where you cannot do anything for yourself and so many things in your body aren’t working, you feel so vulnerable, and to see your loved ones being there for you just makes you feel so loved and so grateful–but I set her straight and told her that all of us want to thank HER. Without her, I wouldn’t know that I could love so deeply and so openly–I wouldn’t understand that all these things I think are so important are really the first things that burn away in the fire of clarity, and that all they ever do is muddle up the vibrant being that I really am. I told her about all of you that love her so much, and how you are all pulling for her. And how no matter how far this road goes (and we’re going all the way!) and how steep the climb, we are with her every single step of the way–not out of sacrifice, but because this is the best seat in the house. I used to think that I wanted protection from things like this, and believe me I’d never want it to happen again, but watching her and experiencing her, being able to comfort or encourage or witness these little miracles every day, this is really LIVING. A feathered nest is wonderful, but it’s an empty and futile goal. My goals are going to change to just being open—
Let’s live to the fullest today–whether we are learning to walk again, or just doing what we do every single day of the year, we’re alive and what a gift that is….
Happy day to each and every one of you.
What she said,
P.S. Share love. It’s why we’re here.