Good morning. For those that don’t know me, I am Roger Remedios, Jennifer’s uncle and Brenda’s brother.
I’d like to spend a few minutes telling you about the most significant memories I have of Aviana and the last four years.
One memory I have is the pain I saw in the faces of Jennifer and Dave, and Brenda and Gary, after and since the accident. This memory, I know, will dissipate as the future brings better times.
I remember clearly the times we accompanied Jennifer and Dave and Brenda and Gary to the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia. These are bitter sweet memories because of the reason we went and the hope we had. I truly enjoyed both trips because of what we learned about therapies for brain injured children that we would use for Aviana. I also enjoyed the good time we had there…one also filled with laughter. I remember the time Rella mistook a midnight fire alarm at our motel for her alarm clock; she almost destroyed the alarm clock trying to turn it off. Oh the expletives I could tell you about…but we are in church.
I have strong memories of Jennifer and Dave’s love and devotion to Aviana as expressed in the extensive and endless therapy they provided to her seven days a week and most of the waking day. Some therapies consisted of patterning, breathing exercises, and crawling on a sloped board that Gary made for Aviana. It also consisted of feeding her a diet of nutritionally balanced and organic foods.
The memories I have of therapy have always been positive because it was done as a team effort for Avi. Even though all therapies were done with precision, we learned early that therapy time, since it is long and often tiring for Avi and us, must be treated with a light heart and humor. I think Aviana appreciated our laughter. I remember once, after a particularly long session, Michelle, Aviana’s nurse, said she noticed Aviana’s angry stare and finger pointing at the front door, as if to say that it is time for Michelle to leave.
I also have memories of all those days getting to know Jennifer…better than I ever knew her before the accident. This memory has brought about the admiration I have developed for her (and Dave) for their courage and stamina, their focus, their pragmatic sensibilities, and their warm and caring nature for others needing help.
Regarding Aviana, my recollections are more personal. One memory over the past four years is the calm I felt while cradling Aviana in my arms. Jennifer has told me that Aviana looked calm during those times. What few know is the calming and healing effect Aviana had on me. For many years, I suffered from a heart arrhythmia. Often I arrived with this problem and wondered if the discomfort would shorten my stay. It never did. Within 10 to 15 minutes of holding Avi close to me the heart rhythm irregularity switched to a normal rhythm. I cannot remember any time when holding Avi did not work for me. I like to think that Aviana and I had an unspoken agreement that we would swap strength for weakness…that I would bring her calm and she would bring me a normal heart rhythm. This memory of cradling Avi in my arms will always be with me.
Finally, the most vivid memory I have of Aviana is of a beautiful little girl with a pixie smile and determined look that greeted me one Easter Sunday when Rella and I visited Brenda and Gary. On entering the living room, Aviana took my hand and pulled me to the back yard. She handed me a bucket and dragged me along in search of Easter eggs. Avi knew what our roles were…she was the Finder and I was the Carrier. Her pretty face, captivating smile and determined look will always remain as clear as if it occurred yesterday. If you asked me what kind of a dress she wore or what color it was I would not be able to tell you. However, I can remember her face and mannerisms very well. It is interesting how seemingly inconsequential memories of events at one time take on a more important meaning later. It is also wonderful that we can decide which of our memories are important enough to remember.
So what are the memories that I consider important! The memories that taught me to love and respect Jennifer and Dave for their devotion to Aviana. Even though my love for Brenda and Gary remain the same the love itself has deepened during these past four years. I can officially say that Brenda, now, is my favorite sister (his only sister!) and Gary is my favorite brother-in-law. As for Aviana, last but not least, I remember her as a beautiful, amazing and determined little girl.