Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

What Does It Take to Make a Person Feel Alive?

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Warning: if you were expecting another snarky, irresponsible post this time around, please refer again to to this one (and while you’re at it, try to make it go viral; we’ll wait here while you do that). We apologize for the departure from routine, and will return to mocking you as soon as possible.


Ten months ago, the five-year-old daughter of our friends fell off the roof and onto the street, severely injuring her head. Her mother performed CPR until the paramedics arrived, and the little girl was placed in an induced coma to prevent excessive cerebral bleeding. When asked about the girl’s prognosis, the doctors said grimly that they would only know within a day or two whether she would survive. And if she did, no one dared venture an optimistic guess whether she would ever recover.

This vivacious, adorable, talkative kid in moments transformed into a vegetable. In and out of the induced coma for weeks, she vacillated between critical and not-quite-as-critical, as her extended family and the surrounding community rallied around. Children throughout the city prayed for her. Other families prepared meals for hers. And well wishes poured in from across the globe (her father is an entertainer of some renown).

Eventually, the dim rays of hope, that everyone dared not assert too confidently at first, grew brighter. The little girl’s life was no longer in immediate danger. As the weeks and months passed, the concern shifted from rescue to rehabilitation. In that arena, too, conservative expectations ruled. For all practical purposes, the statistics did not paint a hopeful picture. Severe head trauma tends to impair people for life, and gauging the cognitive and functional impact of such a nightmare in itself took quite some time.

I ache for her parents: for the dread and numbness that characterized those harrowing initial days; the bottom falling out of their universe as their little girl hovered over the valley of the shadow of death; the sheer helplessness in the face of unspeakable, imminent loss; and the uncertainty surrounding every aspect of returning, if at all, to something akin to normal.

Less than three months ago, her mother had her fourth child – their first boy. The entire community came out to celebrate, but the party served more as an excuse to marvel at the lively, laughing kindergartener sitting and playing among her many cousins than as a vehicle for the guest of honor to meet the world.

We saw her family again today at the playground, and caught up a little bit. As you can imagine, their routine is still complicated, with the rehab, but she’s back with her friends in kindergarten; she’s picking up math skills; her communication and cognitive abilities have somehow reemerged from the abyss. She’s learning English (not their native language) and playing easily with her peers. The only physical evidence of her trip to the precipice of devastation is some residual muscular and coordination issues, challenges that rehab can address.

The head of the rehabilitation facility has apparently made every single staff member take note of this little girl, because her miraculous recovery is something they are not likely ever to see again. Her family knows it; her community knows it; her friends know it. This little girl will grow up only dimly aware of the glow she carries; she will likely remain completely oblivious to the richness and depth she has given to the lives of her family and friends; and she will, for a long time, take for granted the intensity and cherishing of every precious moment that takes place all around her.

This is real life. Here’s to experiencing its richness and depth without unspeakable tragedy.


Written by Thag

March 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm

One Response

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  1. I’m a medical speech language pathologist who works often with persons who have suffered (yes! suffered) head trauma. Thank you for your beautifully told story of this child and her recovery. Miracles do happen; I’ve seen this sort of miracle myself. God bless.


    March 6, 2011 at 3:41 am

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