A Week to Remember

August 30, 2008

This week transcended description.

Concentrating in Physical Therapy (McGuire VAMC, 8/25/08)

Concentrating in Physical Therapy (McGuire VAMC, 8/25/08)

Mariah’s voice reemerged, she coined the word “Mariahcle”, we toured Byrd Park in the rain from the wheelchair van, and her parents, brother, and medical team met with her for an hour as she explained what’s not working for her.

She’s having trouble sleeping, and she’s having nightmares. She longs to go home to her place with roommates Suzanna and Sean, and her dog Chai. Sometimes the people working with her, including me, hurt her, especially around a tender right shoulder and around the feeding tube in her tummy. And many of the people working with her, including me again <sigh>, often have unpleasant breath.

The unbridled euphoria of Tuesday inevitably gave way to some blues and discouragement during the rest of the week. But Mariah, with courage and lots of encouragement pushed through her funk to keep working her amazing body. Her sense of humor is still intact. On Friday morning when asked how she had slept, she pressed her palms together, laid her head against them, and deadpanned, “Like this.”

Here are scenes from a week to remember.

Workout On a New Machine – Arms and Legs in Synch
(McGuire VAMC, 8/25/08)

Back On the Lokomat
(McGuire VAMC, 8/29/08)

On a personal note, after witnessing the stunning miracle of her voice, I wandered in a daze toward the canteen for some java but unexpectedly headed for the chapel. There, sitting alone in a pew with my head on the back of the seat in front of me, I emptied by heart of despair and gratitude in great sobs. Since June 17, my mantra has been, “Please God, bless Mariah.” Hundreds of times I summoned the power of love to save her, but grieving was impossible while struggling for hope. Now with hope fulfilled, the dam burst. It was finally safe to feel the excruciating pain of my daughter’s horrible loss, because at long last I could thank God.

– Mark


5 Responses to “A Week to Remember”

  1. Grandma said

    Hey Mariah;
    That’s the same machine I head for when I go to the gym. The first machine, not the robowalker. The first few weeks, I could only go a few minutes. Now I am up to a mile in 10 minutes without stopping. I can go 2 miles, but
    I sometimes just get bored and stop. Nobody seems to know what I am talking about when I describe the machine. Let me know when you hit the 2 mile mark.
    Love you, sweetheart

  2. Mark Littrell said

    Hello Mariah,
    It’s great having this site to check on your progress. Just wanted to drop you a note. Praying and thinking of you. God Bless you and I hope you start having sweet dreams. Mark

  3. Katheryn Hanson said

    Mariah, merhaba! (Turkish for ‘hello’!) I just found out about the website and am still not sure what ‘blogging’ is, but I wanted to write. You were all the talk at the Force Health Protection Conference this past month, and a very nice Colonel (can’t remember name right now) sat next to me and talked the entire lunch period about how inspirational you are. Personally I am thinking that there are better methods if you want to be the main topic of a very large conference, but am thrilled that you are progressing faster than expected! And your family are exceptional. My dad would have put one step in the hospital and angered the nursing staff within mere minutes, and my sister would have been hawking my medications. So! Turkey is wonderful, very hot and the people are exceptionally friendly (too friendly sometimes, you have to have a very good reason why you cannot come and spend the weekend with them and their family after asking for directions) Did you need me to send you an ‘evil eye’? The Turkish people swear by it and it couldn’t hurt 🙂 Seriously, you have shaken the Vet Corps and ALL of us have you in our hearts and prayers. Like it or not, you have the unofficial role of bequeathing hope and inspiration. AND it’s not saying much, you’ve seen me at the gym, but darn it you still look better than me on those stupid machines. Keep up the faith, it’s easy to stumble and hard to pick back up, but you’ve got an amazing team on your side. Kat

  4. Aimee said


    You can talk now! That’s so wonderful, I am so happy for you. You’re making such amazing progress. Keep it up!

  5. Jackie Balma said

    Mariah-I just wanted to say hello…You are making so much progress, you are truly an inspiration to me as I go through my days. I think about you often and check in regularly. The District isn’t the same without you. You are truly amazing and we are all touched by your journey. I am so happy for you, that you’ve come so far. Jackie

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