The little girl doubled over in laughter, then called out “but Mama, there isn’t a Hickory limb, and I’m already in the water!” Again she doubled up, laughing, and her mother laughed with her. “As long as you don’t go any deeper, love, I’m sure you will be safe.” She watched the child for a few moments, and her heart swelled with love and joy. Who would think that, three years ago, Victoria had been unable even to sit up? How she thanked God that her little girl was once more whole and healthy.
Often, when Martha closed her eyes, it all came back. The bright headlights heading straight for them, their driver frantically swerving the car trying to avoid the other, then the horrendous crash. And waking in the hospital bed with a vicious headache, and one arm and one leg immovable. Then her frantic questions - where’s Victoria, what happened to my little girl? For a while, all they would do was put her under again. Then one day she woke, and the headache was just a mild irritation, and she was able to sit up. Then the doctor told her. Both drivers had died. The other driver was drunk, her driver had only managed to swerve so that they had been hit on the left side. Not T-boned, but almost. Victoria had severe concussion, and spinal cord damage. The outlook was grim; she would probably never sit up again, let alone walk. And they didn’t know yet what if any brain damage had occurred.
The months that followed were desperate, and agonizing. Victoria regained consciousness, but at first she didn’t seem to recognise anyone, or anything. Even her favourite teddy bear, Rufus, brought no light to her eyes. Martha had almost despaired, and then Dr. Albright came. One day, he was there examining Victoria when Martha entered the room. He turned as she came in, and smiled.
“Good morning, Mrs. Thomas, I’m Anton Albright. Dr. Matthews has asked me to take over Victoria’s treatment, if you agree. Here are my credentials.” he handed her a file folder. “I am confident that I can do a lot for Victoria, perhaps even restore her completely. I have done so with other cases with equally severe injuries.”
Martha had settled down and read through the file folder, noting how many patients had been given much improved lives, and even totally healed, by Dr. Albright. She looked up at him, and watched as her talked softly to Victoria. She was amazed to see that the child was looking at the doctor, and seemed to be understanding what he was saying. Then he turned to her.
“Mrs. Thomas, why don’t you come and say hello to your daughter? I know she will be happy to see her mother.” He smiled and turned again to Victoria. “Do you want to see Mama?” he asked. And a little smiled curved Victoria’s lips, and her eyes turned a bit toward the other side of the bed.
Martha stood, and moved to the bed. “Hello, my love.” she said. It was hard not to let the tears show when the little girl’s eyes lit up, and the smile grew slightly. Martha looked at the doctor. “Yes, please,” she said. “If you can do anything to help, I will be forever grateful.”
Dr. Albright took her hand. “Mrs. Thomas, I will do the very best I can.” And he did, and now his best, three years later, was shown there at the edge of the ocean. Her little Victoria, her miracle child, dancing and singing as she splashed happily along, gathering pretty shells and stones. Martha thanked God every hour of every day for the gift of Dr. Albright and his incredible ability to restore active, healthy life to those like Victoria. People, young and old, who had been faced with life more or less in a vegetative state, unable to communicate, unable to move, completely hopeless.
She looked at the sun, and called “Victoria, it’s time to go home now.”
Victoria looked up at her mother, then at the sun. “Aw, Mama, do we have to?”
“Yes, love, we have to. But we can come back again tomorrow, if the weather lets us. And we are going to make a welcome home cake for Daddy, remember? If we go now, it will be all ready when he gets here.”
“Oh, yeah! I forgot!” Victoria exclaimed. She ran up the beach to her mother, sat down and brushed sand off her feet and put her shoes on. “We’re going to make that special cake with the creamy icing, aren’t we? It’s Daddy’s favourite - and mine, too!” She laughed, picked up the beach towel her mother had been sitting on, shook and folded it, took Martha’s hand and they walked off into the late afternoon sunlight. Mother and daughter joined in contentment and love.