‘Front row seat to a miracle’

In All, News by Linda Givetash

This piece was also featured in: Waterloo Region Record
Published: Nov. 2, 2012 | [ WEB ] | [ PDF ]

ST. AGATHA — Hugs and high fives greeted a bright-eyed and smiling Lydia Herrle outside her home Thursday.

Less than six months since the incident that left her in a coma, Lydia walked out from the Herrle’s Country Farm Market down the lane to the family’s Erb’s Road home with her parents — James and Michelle — by her side.

While Lydia has been home since Thanksgiving, well over 100 community members lined the lane for an official homecoming, waving green ribbons to encourage the 13-year-old’s remarkable recovery.

While the plan for the event was for Lydia to ride in a golf cart decorated lime green in her honour, she decided to walk the whole way and interact face-to-face with her friends and neighbours.

“That was pretty breathtaking,” said Colton Ferrell, 13.

Ferrell, with local boys Jacob Asselin, Jordan Asselin and Cameron Lorentz, sold lime green “Stay Strong Lydia” bracelets and T-shirts to encourage community support for Lydia and help fund medical costs her family incurred.

“People who didn’t even live around here would buy them,” said Ferrell, who was one of the few students on Lydia’s school bus when she stepped off and was hit by a truck in May.

In the end, thousands of bracelets were sold and countless T-shirts, too.

The community’s hopes and prayers for Lydia to “stay strong” were answered as they witnessed her wide grin while she hugged many of her well-wishers along the lane.

“It was good to see her again. She looked good,” said Jacob Asselin, 13, who was also on Lydia’s bus and spearheaded the bracelet campaign.

Although Lydia has made great strides in recovering, it will still be some time before she rejoins the boys and her other schoolmates at Baden Public School.

“She looks well … but her brain is at a totally different spot,” Michelle said, sitting with Lydia in the family’s living room the morning prior to the ribbon waving.

Lydia continues to receive therapy with a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and a speech language pathologist to help her body regain its strength and her brain to heal.

Those sessions are topped with music therapy and academic tutoring.

“She has a full schedule,” Michelle explained.

Yet as difficult as the healing process may be, Lydia remains enthusiastic about the challenge and continues setting goals for herself.

Just as Michelle began to list the Christmas goals, Lydia chimed in that she wants “to shower by myself and go to the washroom by myself.”

As the muscles in her legs strengthen and she regains stability to walk without help to accomplish those goals, Lydia will also be closer to reaching her dreams of playing soccer and figure skating again.

Taking small steps in recovering, Lydia has already managed to move back into her own room to sleep at night — a goal that was set for months from now — with only a baby monitor at hand to call for help when she needs it.

Throughout these past months the family has found strength in their faith as they have “front row seats to a miracle” watching Lydia transform.

And for Lydia, the journey of recovery is about faith too.

“Without (Jesus) I wouldn’t have survived,” she said.

Regaining memory, Lydia has begun sharing her experience of recovery, including the time of her coma. Michelle said Lydia told the story that Jesus was speaking to her while still in a coma.

“She said, ‘he said to me do not worry, do not be afraid, I shall always be with you,’” Michelle recalled.

“As people of faith obviously we treasure that.”

The family, if not in awe of Lydia’s incredible progress, has been overwhelmed by the unwavering support of the community as well.

“She’s been referred to before as being this sort of community child and that everyone is rooting for her,” Michelle said.

“What a privileged position that is. … We’re grateful.”

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About the Author

Linda Givetash

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Linda Givetash is a Canadian-South African freelance journalist based in Vancouver, B.C. Her work has appeared in print, digital and broadcast media outlets around the globe.