Eternally Yours

Life as Gloria Lamar knew it ended almost five years ago. But her heart beats on.

The journal is a spiral notebook. Through page after densely written page, Hoh engages in a kind of meticulous charting: Lamar's physical condition and test results, her responsiveness, his activities with her and the techniques he tried, all the wearying minutiae of her days. He describes how Lamar learned to communicate by blinking her eyes and how he taught her to swallow, even though she was tethered to a feeding tube. He rages at staff indifference; he records family milestones; he worries about bills and the limitations of Medicaid. Over and over, he reports that he has repeated to her the same incantation--a list of things they'll do together when she recovers: "making love, dancing, singing, painting, making love, writing, champagne brunch, golf, kids..."

His words are telling:
I kissed Gloria three times; she moved lips in response but got very emotional each time.

Gloria likes the animals on the Discovery Channel.
BAD. CRUMPLED OVER. DROOLING.
I got Gloria to keep tongue down and forward with tongue depressor (wood) and then, after warning and prompting, put several drops of cranberry juice from dropper onto stick which flowed down onto middle of tongue so reflex back there could initiate swallow (which it does).

Everybody thinks Gloria will just fade out... They do no therapy at all now and don't even take Gloria out of bed every day unless I'm here.

Once I acted disappointed when her thumb was on yes and I asked her to go all the way up to NO. I walked away to do something in drawers and she felt like I gave up (perhaps) and hit NO NO NO NO NO NO to assure me she was cooperative.

I'm getting fantastic at fingernails and toenails.
We took Gloria outdoors in the sun and put her in the grass on her back (hands in grass, feet in grass), then on stomach. Vocalizing spontaneously, opening clumped eyes.

Gloria wants so much to tell me something.
NO SMILE. HANDS INWARD AND CLENCHED. OLD URINE. FACE DIRTY. EARS DIRTY. MOUTH. SMELLY. NOT MUCH ATTENTION FOR DAYS.

I was talking about taking journeys out of my body so my 2nd body could visit Gloria's 2nd body and Gloria listened intently and acknowledged with blinks.

Gloria went vocally ballistic, laughing then crying, we think. Voice loudest ever trying to talk, almost closing her eyes due to the power of vocalization/screaming.

Hoh had been warned against getting too hopeful. "Everybody told me that if she came out of this thing, she wouldn't be Gloria, she'd be somebody else--she'd be some totally new thing," he says. He's silent for several seconds, then says emphatically, "I never believed that, and I'll tell you why I knew. There were two occasions when she went into general anesthesia. Both times when she came out, she was Gloria again. She was totally flexible; she could move both arms. She could move her head, she could track, she was trying to talk. I told her jokes she alone would understand, and she just laughed. And it went away. It went away after four, eight hours. It went away."

The doctors told Hoh they'd seen that phenomenon before, but they downplayed its significance. And they refused to anesthetize Lamar again to explore the phenomenon further.

"Their theory says that when you come out of a coma, you've got virtually no memory," Hoh says. "It's got to be rebuilt. And you have to be taught by a speech therapist how to talk. You don't have the same personality. You don't have the same humor...Well, on both occasions, she was Gloria again. You can tell when the eyes are alive and when they're gone."

After the collision, Donald Bauman wrote a song:

A feeling of silence, trying to deal with this violence,
Driven to insanity by this vanity.
Anger that has too much danger, like being born in a manger.
Her lighting is so frightening that I feel her flashing and I go crashing.
I should feel shame, because I'm to blame.
I cannot hold all this disdain, because I am stain.
I can hear her voice over a thousand miles
A tornado that rips, like the horse...[illegible]

For Gloria Lamar to have the remotest chance of recovery, she needed far more intensive therapy than Medicaid could provide. Hoh hired Baine Kerr, a Boulder attorney, to explore the possibility of filing a civil suit against Bauman.

Kerr's investigation turned up some surprising information. Despite Bauman's statements to his probation officer--the pre-sentencing report lists "source of income" as "none" and says Bauman's "ability to pay fees" is "dependent upon family and work"--it seemed he was hardly without assets. Bauman had suffered some oxygen deprivation at birth, and a medical malpractice suit, settled in his favor, had guaranteed him a lifetime income. On his eighteenth birthday, in January 1994--less than three months before the collision--he had received settlement and interest payments of over $130,000; monthly payments of $4,166 also began. (After that, he'd purchased the Jeep Cherokee for $28,000 in cash.) The settlement was structured so that payments would increase annually. By the time he was fifty years old, Bauman could expect $322,670 a year; his old age would be sweetened by an annual income of slightly more than a million dollars. In the course of his lifetime, he could expect to receive $24 million.

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