Photo © Holly Karlin

That’s one of my closest friends, Maria. She’s amazing. She lives and breathes music. Her soul is made of it, and for three years, she lived a nightmare.

See, Maria has Multiple Sclerosis, and shortly after I met her — after I got a good glimpse of what a fantastic, beautiful musician she was — it attacked her hands and stole her entire ability to even HOLD her instrument. I watched as her life fell apart around her, with Maria clawing and fighting for every rotten inch. Being a musician myself, my heart broke in pieces to see what MS had done. When she lost her hands completely, all the medics and specialists said she’d never play again. Hell, they had YEARS of documentation, scans, records of the damage MS had inflicted on her brain. The chances of someone recovering from that type of extensive damage are astronomically tiny. As much as it hurt to see, Maria couldn’t play anymore. She closed her instrument cases for good and packed them away. There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis. And all of us were helpless to do anything about it.

Pretty bleak, eh?

But the story isn’t done, because, a couple years ago, Maria lived a MIRACLE.

A year or so ago, shortly after her birthday, her last remaining violin student asked her to demonstrate a technique. There were no recordings, no videos of it. MS doesn’t just affect one part of your body, it affects them all, and Maria couldn’t even sing the rhythm for the guy. She knew he would get it immediately if he heard it, so out of desperation she took her student’s violin, thinking, if she could just squeak it out, even pitifully, maybe it might help a little…

…and she didn’t just play the technique, she played the ENTIRE SONG. Nearly perfect.

She was so stunned she didn’t sleep for three whole days because she was afraid that if she did, she’d wake up and it would all be gone. Can you imagine? Having something you would live and die for be ripped from your life — only to come back — but who knew for how long? MS is a real crapshoot that way, not knowing from day to day what will work and what won’t and what will hurt and what won’t. I don’t think any of us could understand her very real fear.

But as the days and weeks and months piled up, though her hands were rough and out of practice, she played, and the music didn’t vanish. Slowly she began to re-learn everything she could do before. And the spare minutes of music from her hands turned into an hour, and then two… Each day it was there, like it never left. Her neurologist was baffled, the MRI techs were baffled, the doctors were baffled. Because all the new MRIs and scans show her brain damage has vanished. Like someone erased it….

A miracle. Maria still has MS, but she has her life back. She can play again, and it’s beautiful.

She just entered this photo contest through the MS-Living Symptom Free page on Facebook. If you’ve been touched or moved at all by her story, and have a Facebook account, please consider voting for her. You have to “like” the page first.

Maria is a special lady. She’s probably laughing at me right now, but I’m going to say it anyway: It has been a privilege to know her and an honor to play music with her. She’s an inspiration. She’s lived through Hell, and survived. She’s back to playing now at the local Theater she loves so much, and she’s finally strong enough she can play her beloved viola. I visited her last year for the first time since I graduated college, and she played for me. 🙂

It was a beautiful miracle.


4 thoughts on “Beautiful Miracles

  1. Wow. Just .. wow. You should write books or something. You’ve got a real flair. 😉 Love you, Heather. You even make Me think I’m impressive, and that’s no small feat. Thank you so much. Peace!

  2. I remember the first time Maria played for me, sometime around 95 or 96. She played some Irish jigs and reels. I was mesmerized! Maria has such talent and knowledge and ability. I miss hearing her play. Most of all I miss hanging out with her, just sitting and talking. Maria, with her musician’s heart, hears and understands what I can’t always put into words. She was with me through my darkest times. I love Maria!

    1. Oh, she’s fantastic. She can make those strings sing like no one else I’ve heard. I am just elated that she’s got a second chance now. 🙂 No musician should ever, EVER have to live through having their music taken away!

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