About eight years ago, I took the hand of a good friend and colleague and embarked on a new professional journey. Together, we jumped head first into a new venture, where we could see clients with aphasia in a practice grounded in the philosophy of Life Participation. Like most speech-language pathologists who had grown up in traditional rehabilitation, we took tenuous first steps, discovering things about ourselves and the possibilities of such a radical shift in focus. We met and partnered with amazing clients and families, some of whom are still our friends, and some who have moved on or away. Some have been unforgettable.
These photographs were taken by a client who has posterior cortical atrophy and progressive aphasia. In our time together, she rediscovered her talent despite relentless losses in language, perception, and her hold on so many things she valued in life. In a flurry of effort, she selected six marvelous shots, directed her family in their printing and framing, and attended her first group show in which people with head injury and stroke exhibited art work. That day at the gallery, she wore a lovely flowered dress, and was the happiest I had seen her. Soon after, she suffered a setback, and was unable to continue with our sessions, or her work. Yet, six months later, I saw her at a local restaurant with her family, and while she had definitely declined, she was still very present, her arms around her young grandson, and clearly enjoying dining al fresco in the sunshine.
I learn daily from the journey people make with, through, and up against the aphasia. They are sometimes warriors, sometimes partners, sometimes simply observers. And on their journey, I am sort of a signpost. In making the choices they do, they consistently choose what is right. They choose to become.