What good is a story without someone to tell it? A story without someone to hear it?
A few years back, a young man in our community was involved in a terrible automobile accident. Prior to that day, he had a reputation as the high school jock, athletic and good looking. He was described as cool and cocky. He was well-liked, if sometimes irresponsible.
The accident left him in a coma for weeks. His doctors gave his family no hope for recovery based on the appearance of his scans. Nevertheless, his parents insisted upon continuing life support. He went from the intensive care unit to acute care to rehab over a period of six weeks or so with no improvement.
Then one day he opened his eyes. He started responding to simple commands. He was able to recognize the people at his bedside. Long story short, he went on to make a full recovery with the exception of a few subtle cognitive deficits. He came out of the experience a humble, caring young man with no recollection of the weeks he spent unconscious.
During his entire hospitalization, the boy’s mother kept a daily journal. It helped her remember what the doctors told her from day to day so she could process it when she had a few moments to herself.
She kept track of who visited her son, how kind and concerned they were, how heartbroken they felt. She recorded everything the doctors and nurses who cared for him said and did, and she recorded her own thoughts and feelings about her son’s condition.
The point is that without his mother’s journals, this entire period in his life would have been lost to him. He had no memory of it. It helped him immensely to read his mother's journals in order to make sense of what had happened to him and what a miracle his recovery represented. They reconnected him with his friends when he read about their bedside visits. He came to understand how close to death he’d come.
She wrote them at a time when she never imagined her son would read them for himself. That chapter in his life might have remained, forever, a story without a reader…and, except for his mother's journals, it might have remained a story without a writer.
PS: It will remain a matter of faith vs speculation as to whether a bedside visit from the boy's beloved dog had any effect on his recovery…but he woke up three days later.