Friday, October 1, 2010

Writing Classes Read the Blog


This week Peggy taught guest sessions for the students in two of photographer/writer Steve Trimble’s Honors writing classes at the University of Utah. These classes are focusing on writing concerning personal experience, and it’s for this reason that she was asked to visit and the students have been asked to read portions of this blog.

It’s a remarkable experience, I must tell you, Peggy says, to be in the company of people who’ve been asked to read this blog, but who don’t know Brooke, who are much younger in age, and who for the most part don’t have experience that is anything like his—but who pose often extremely interesting questions about it. Steve has asked the students to write to this blog this week, so this little entry serves as the posting-place for their comments.

To the students: I hope you’ll each post some version of the questions and reflections you raised in class, and of course more. Brooke will read it. There’s no need to offer platitudes; say something about what reading about his experience jostles in you. To blog readers: Just click on the tiny word “Comments” below this entry and you’ll get to see something of what these sometimes extraordinary writing students have to offer.

38 comments:

Katie Hyde said...

Hello!
In class, I was unable to, but wished to ask: Is there anything you can do, individually, or together, to try and normalize your life?
Yesterday, I mentioned in class that the post about the Tibetan Monk really resonated with me. Reading it I was able to simultaneously ponder the situation you are in, and how the lama addressed it and also ponder how the lama's message could apply in my own life. Before posting here I went back to read through it a second time. It's interesting that just in reading through I have had a certain feeling of calm settle over me.
Thank you for your blog, there are so many emotions events like this can cause, and you some how found a way to communicate them. I have emotions I'm feeling since reading it and since the visit, but I am struggling to get them out. I admire your ability.

Thank you
and
Wishing you the Best,

Katie Hyde

Elisabeth said...

Again, I'd love to be in this class, too, but second best is to read the comments and questions as they arise here.

Erin said...

Hello!
Peggy - thank you for speaking to our class, it was an eye opening experience to say the least.

I'm a political science, international studies double major and am currently taking a gender and politics class. In that class we specifically analyze the gender identities associated with different sexes. I was wondering how the accident has affected those gender roles in a physical way, but mentally and emotionally as well?

Thank you for this blog, it's enlightening, funny, emotionally evoking, thought provoking and everything in between.
Regards,
Erin Wynn

Heather said...

Hello,

I just wanted to let you know how much I've loved reading your blog and how much it's helped me to live in the moment and love it before the moment's gone. Your story has been an inspiration to me. I come back to the blog when I'm feeling down and read about Brooke's experience, it helps me to be grateful for everything I have. Thank you Peggy for your encouragement in my studies to be an Occupational Therapist. Meeting you and reading about Brooke has made me very excited to be able to help others recover from similar accidents as Brookes.

Thank you again!

Heather

Benjamin said...

Hello!

My apologies if this question is insensitive. If you were to recover more or less completely, would you get back on a bike again?

Thank you for maintaining this blog, the hope for the future and perspective on life is really touching.

Ben Smith

karlenepurdy said...

Brooke & Peggy,

As I was listening to Peggy speak in our writing class I started wondering if the new-found intimacy, love, and dependence is worth the loss of independence and smoother sailing that you lost in the process. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I gathered, you two lost a lot of happiness and freedom through this experience but were left with a deeper love and sense of intimacy than you had before. So ultimately what the question boils down to is have you found that love is more valuable than happiness?


Karlene Purdy
Honors 2211

Saba said...

Brooke and Peggy,

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

One question that continuously pops up in my head is that apart from your love for one and other and your friends and family, what keeps you going in the moments where you question if all of this is worth it? That one thing that keeps you hanging on when most people would give up.

Thank you again for inspiring us with unconditional love and bravery.

Best Regards,

Saba ^_^

Sandra said...

Brooke and Peggy,

Thank you very much for sharing your stories with us and maintaining this emotionally evoking blog.

When I was 13 years old, I lost my mother and sister in a tragic automobile accident. A few days prior to the unexpected tragedy, there were "signs" that did not occur to me was letting me know something horrible was about to happen. For example: my mother's SUV broke down many times, I was having chest pains, I felt semi-depress for no apparent reason, and the weather was not cooperating for our trip to Mexico.

Thus, I wanted to ask you if you can recall any unusual signs or events, prior to the tragic incident, that may have hinted that something horrible was about to occur?

Again, thank you very much for maintaining this blog that is truly inspirable.

Best regards,

Sandra Vargas
Honors 2211-003

Molly Morton said...

Brooke and Peggy,

I want to thank you again for having the courage to discuss the intimacies of a situation like this so publicly. I am so floored by your ability to verbalize these kinds emotions so eloquently and in a way with which other people can identify.

As my brother recovers from his longboarding accident, I am constantly reminded that he could have been less lucky. This blog is especially jarring because of the emotional rawness of your posts. While reading the blog, I constantly can't help but envision myself in yours shoes.

In class, I was wondering what made you decide to start writing about your situation? Also, how did you decide on a blog as your forum of publication as opposed to a newspaper column, a biography, film, etc?

Thank you so much for your thoughts.

Molly Morton

Dell said...

Peggy,
I wasn't able to attend class when you spoke but I have a quick question for you. Right after Brooke's accident you seemed so certain that everything was going to turn out fine. How did you keep your optimism? I think I would just get depressed but you always seemed to look at the positive aspects of everything. Your blog is truly inspirational!

Thank you,
-Alma Knudson

natalie said...

Dear Brooke & Peggy...

Wow. What phenomenal people you are.

With every post that I stumble across throughout your blog, I am indeed "jostled." Emotionally, intellectually, physically, and above all, spiritually.

I would like to say thank you, sincerely, for sharing your stories with us readers/students/fans of your strong souls.

I raised a question of spirituality in class, and now, I suppose I question not only belief in one another, but a belief in yourself? I can not even begin to imagine how your perspectives have been altered, though you both still seem so lively, upbeat, appreciative, and above all, hopeful. I first need to thank you for instilling that hope in your readers. It is only when we feel this "jostling" your story provided do we count our blessings and feel personal wealth in hope.

My question is how your hope and attitude has been altered towards the frailty of life? How, through the darkest of moments, that you have overcome and learned to see this beauty that life has to offer--though it may be in unexpected forms...

Sorry for the scatterbrained comment..

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing your immensely powerful and wondrous story with us. And thank you for keeping the blog, as to make us all a little stronger due to your strength.

God bless.

Sincerely,
Natalie Blanton

Jessica said...

Dear Brooke and Peggy,

Your optimism for the future has truly inspired me. The title "Hope feeds life" from your previous blog post deeply touched my heart. I could not stop thinking about how important it is to have hopes if one wishes to achieve happiness in life. I also wondered about the feeling to insecurity. Has the thought of giving ever occurred to you? Have you always been so positive about the future? How were you able to fight out the negative energy?

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

Best wishes to you,
Jessica Lee

AC said...

Brooke and Peggy,

Your story struck me. Reading some of the blog entries made me evaluate what I hold to be important in my life. My perspective changed to a degree after reading the blog, because your experiences are so different from my own.

How you have both dealt with the complete change surprised me. The sense of hope and perseverance that I got from your stories was refreshing.

I basically have one question:
Do you ever look back on your lives before the accident and feel regretful or envious of what you used to be able to value? Are the same things still important to you?

Thank you for sharing your story. It altered my perspective. Your optimism is remarkable.

Sincerely,
Anna Chuaqui

Gabby Dellapiana said...

Hi,

Thank you for coming and speaking so openly with our class. I'm an Exercise Physiology major, so I have found Brooke's experience with the FES bike to be very intersting. I was wondering, what kind of improvements have you seen with this method of electrical stimulation? Has there been any reversal of muscle atrophy in his legs, or any return of sensation from re-exciting those pathways? Also, the blog mentioned that this can be an extremely painful means of exercise. Is it painful because it causes an increased respiratory need, or does it have some psychological implications because it is biking? Meaning, is it difficult for Brooke to return to biking since that is how the accident occured?

Thank you again for your inspirational courage,

Gabriela Dellapiana

willemschott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
willemschott said...

First, I'd like to thank peggy so much for taking time to share your thoughts with our class and bless you brooke for your awe-inspiring courage.
My thoughts were inspired by: Hope Feeds Life: On Time and Expectation. Brooke, As an athlete I often wonder about your difficulties without sport. I'd like to say as an athlete there are a myriad of things I envy about you even though I'm sure you envy my ability to play sports. I envy your courage and determination, your hope, your love, your commitment to be able to memorize walden, your compassion to share with others, and I envy your marriage which appears to be the beneficial match I can only hope to someday achieve.

I myself am one of the hundreds/thousands of pre-med freshman, but your idea of informed consent really intrigued me. I firmly believe that the placebo affect has a place in medicine, and I would argue that working so hard on your respiration might seem like it was vain, but possibly gave you something to occupy your mind. Would you and what would you change about your care? I appreciate your insight and support you.
Willem Olson Schott

Nghia said...

Hello,
I missed out on your lesson.
Something came out.
I have been reading your blog since Steve introduce 'it' to us.
Your stories really inspire me.
The stories made me realized why I wanted to pursuit my career in the first place.
Thank you,
Nghia Le

Nghia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

Hello!

First, thank you Peggy so much for visiting our class. It was a real treat speaking to you in person after reading the blog.

One question I am not sure was completely answered or answered at all in class was how do you think the blog has helped you cope? My family, as well as a few family friends, have gone through tragic accidents and I was just wondering if something like this may be a good thing for us to start.

Thank You and Best Wishes,
Sara Scott

skhammer said...

Thank you for sharing your story.
What you're doing has been an inspiration to me.I have a hard time sharing personal experiences and I admire your courage in posting this blog. Reading through it I am working on opening up, because I never know who will benefit from my story as I have from yours.
After reading your blog and having Peggy in class I think about my lifestyle everyday and how any second it could change. Am I living in such a way that the things that are most dear to me and treasured always and what can be kept when life-changing circumstances arise?
Mostly I enjoyed your story about intimacy and how the simplest touch can create such strong emotions. Thank you.
Sarah Hammer

Valere said...

Brooke and Peggy,

It is an honor to read this blog about your experiences. I think it reaches everyone on a much deeper level that few feel or understand. It's touching how in depth both of you go in order to somehow convey the feelings that pop up in this situation; it seems there is little censorship, and I believe that quality is what makes this blog so successful for yourself and readers.
How has this blog shaped the past two years? What do you think would be absent if the blog had never been made?
You two are an inspiration to everyone, a figure of what it is to really live and love.
I look forward to reading more posts, it is impossible to refuse the love and sympathy all of us have grown for you.
Keep up the great work, and good luck!

- Valerie Velarde
Honors Writing

Measom Family said...

Hi!

It was so amazing to be able to hear you speak about your experience, I truly learned a lot. You both are very strong people. One of the questions I had but wasn't able to ask was where do both of you go for outside support? Thank you so much for sharing your story and keeping an updated blog, it is touching and inspiring to read and follow you guys along your path.

Thanks again,
Elli Measom

Betty said...

Hello!

I just wanted to thank you for joining us in class and making the experience of reading the blog become even more tangible and real. There is one question that I wanted to ask but wasn't able to: Since the accident has everything that you experience seem more concrete and precious or do you simply just view it differently because of your different perspective on life? Once again thank you so much for sharing your experience with it. The pure details allows me to take my own journey in your shoes which is almost impossible without some gateway into how you feel. Thank you so much!

Betty Thomas

Bailey Gray said...

Hi,

Hearing you speak about your experiences was really eye opening. It really encourages me to be more grateful for everything I have. It's truly amazing to me how both of you were just thrown into this and it forced you to adapt and become new people, which you are both doing successfully. To me, it seems like you both woke up and were living another persons life. It's inspiring to see how you both have overcome something so drastic.

Thank you so much for this blog and courageously sharing your experience.

Bailey Gray

Stetson Earl said...

Brooke and Peggy,

Thank you for coming into our classroom and talking with us about your experiences. I am astounded that you, Peggy, are able to do this without breaking down. It must be very difficult. Brooke, I wish you well. Keep improving!

The blog tells us that the other biker was for the most part unscathed after the accident. Do either of you find yourself wanting the other biker to have had more significant injuries? I know that is terrible, but I could imagine some anger towards the other biker due to what you both have been through.

Thanks again,
Stetson Earl

sarah said...

Thank you for talking about your experiences with our class.

Something I have wanted to ask you both is have either you felt regret over what has been lost (i.e. physical abilities, opportunities no longer open for brooke)? Or do you feel that what you have gained (i.e. wisdom, new friends, a new kind of closeness) as a result of the accident is worth more than the life that had been? Also, was it shocking to discover which friends stayed and which left? How did it feel to lose friends you had once considered true?

Thank you for sharing your stories via this blog. Wish you the best,

Sarah

Courtney said...

Brooke and Peggy,
Thank you so much for sharing your story in this blog and for coming to our class to discuss our thoughts and questions. I appreciate your insight and am glad you decided to share everything you have learned from this experience through such a public media. I know it has helped and will help so many people in similar situations and even those who just need an inspirational story. I was just curious about a couple of things. After the accident, did you find yourself and other people treating Brooke like a different person? Also, are the people visiting Brooke today the same people who visited him right after the accident? Did the visitors stay the same, dwindle, or change completely as time passed?
Thanks again and best wishes!
Courtney Wales

Michael said...

I would like to thank you, Peggy, for coming to our class and sharing this powerful experience with us. I am still contemplative concerning my original question though. Would either of you give up the experiences you have had after this accident to have the original life from before the accident? Often more can be learned when normality or things often taken for granted are stripped from us, and I wonder often if it would be worth the loss to find a new beauty in life. This has obviously happened to you. has this new meaning been found in this accident? Is the accident appreciated somewhat, or is it still a tragic accident with no benefits? Again, thank you for your time and willingness to share!

-Michael Bowcutt

Austin Eiting said...

Brooke and Peggy,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. As a young writer I am able to learn alot from your blog, and as a young person I am able to learn alot from you. Facing these trials head on with hope in your hearts and faith in your eyes is nothing short of inspiring. The old fairy tales of heroism are proven true in everyday people by you. When I say "you" I mean both Brooke and Peggy, for you both have been forced through hardships that lay bare your true character. That true character is admirable in every way. I have nothing but respect and a never ending stream of questions for both of you. Thank you for sharing and I hope you continue forward with your heads held high and that the best of luck may land in the laps of those who deserve it.

Austin Eiting

Jesse said...

Hello,

It has definitely been an experience being able to sift through your blog. It is very interesting how detailed, but also how emotional it can be. I cannot begin to understand what has happened, other than through your writing. I would like to thank you for sharing that with all of us. It is hard to understand something like this, but it definitely puts it into a clearer perspective when it is written. The major obstacle that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around is moving from day to day and still finding hope. Reading through this blog, all of my stresses and "hard times" seem very superficial in comparison. It helps me understand that no matter how bad it seems, that there is still the opportunity to find hope in a situation. How do you overcome the hard times? Is there any type of "tradition" in a day that helps you look for the good instead of focusing on any of the reality of the situation?

Thank you for the hope. Thank you for the writing, and most of all thank you moving forward.

Thank you for the courage,

Jesse Sheets

kendahl said...

Hello!
Thank you so very much for sharing your experience so openly with our class. I was thoroughly impressed and moved by both your story and the ways that you have come to handle the situation placed in front of you. Your acceptance of your husband's situation was inspiring to me in the ways you have adapted.

I cannot imagine watching someone you love so much suffer, and it seems to me that in your situation, both of you experienced suffering of multiple kinds. I was shocked when Peggy told us that often when a member of a couple experiences such a tragedy, the spouse leaves. I was struck by your voicing of the necessity for change and adapting.

You asked me personally if there was anyway to prepare for the worst to happen. My aunt is dying of brain and breast cancer and watching her deteriorate over the years has given our family a chance to prepare, however reluctant we may be to accept her situation.I don't feel prepared to lose her, personally I don't think I can prepare for that. I told you that I didn't think there was anyway to prepare for the worst and I still stand by this, especially after hearing what you had to say. Your story leads me to more deeply believe in living in the moment.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your time,

Kendahl Melvin

Thank you

kendahl said...

Hello!
Thank you so very much for sharing your experience so openly with our class. I was thoroughly impressed and moved by both your story and the ways that you have come to handle the situation placed in front of you. Your acceptance of your husband's situation was inspiring to me in the ways you have adapted.

I cannot imagine watching someone you love so much suffer, and it seems to me that in your situation, both of you experienced suffering of multiple kinds. I was shocked when Peggy told us that often when a member of a couple experiences such a tragedy, the spouse leaves. I was struck by your voicing of the necessity for change and adapting.

You asked me personally if there was anyway to prepare for the worst to happen. My aunt is dying of brain and breast cancer and watching her deteriorate over the years has given our family a chance to prepare, however reluctant we may be to accept her situation.I don't feel prepared to lose her, personally I don't think I can prepare for that. I told you that I didn't think there was anyway to prepare for the worst and I still stand by this, especially after hearing what you had to say. Your story leads me to more deeply believe in living in the moment.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your time,

Kendahl Melvin

Thank you

kendahl said...

Hello!
Thank you so very much for sharing your experience so openly with our class. I was thoroughly impressed and moved by both your story and the ways that you have come to handle the situation placed in front of you. Your acceptance of your husband's situation was inspiring to me in the ways you have adapted.

I cannot imagine watching someone you love so much suffer, and it seems to me that in your situation, both of you experienced suffering of multiple kinds. I was shocked when Peggy told us that often when a member of a couple experiences such a tragedy, the spouse leaves. I was struck by your voicing of the necessity for change and adapting.

You asked me personally if there was anyway to prepare for the worst to happen. My aunt is dying of brain and breast cancer and watching her deteriorate over the years has given our family a chance to prepare, however reluctant we may be to accept her situation.I don't feel prepared to lose her, personally I don't think I can prepare for that. I told you that I didn't think there was anyway to prepare for the worst and I still stand by this, especially after hearing what you had to say. Your story leads me to more deeply believe in living in the moment.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your time,

Kendahl Melvin

Thank you

Conner said...

Brooke and Peggy,

Thanks so much for sharing your story. I love your entries and the different emotions they cause me to feel. The amount of honesty and frankness you use in your posts is offset by a heartfelt and emotional side. It's a very impressive balancing act, but you pull it off incredibly well.

Obviously the accident dramatically affected Brooke's body, but his mind is still very sharp. My question is this. You mention how Brooke is teaching a course on "Walden", and you also mentioned that he had to memorize the entire thing to be capable of teaching it. How did he do that? I have trouble memorizing just about anything and I find it really impressive that Brooke memorized the entire book.

Thank you for your blog and good luck in your recovery.

-Conner Hafen

Dance Impressions said...

I don't know what to say, but I have to leave a comment, so, here goes. I would like to point out that no matter the outcome, think about the number of people you've touched with your story and even though the entire world might never know about this little blog community set up here in Salt Lake City, Utah, you should know that the people you have been able to share your story with, needed it and even though they might not be able to relate to it now, they (or I, more appropriately) might need it one day in the future. You are an amazing example of unselfish love.
Amanda T.

JessicaW said...

Brooke & Peggy,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I imagine it must be hard for the both you to relive some of these experiences when you write for the blog. I recently read the newest entry and I hope Brooke feels better soon.

Jessica Woeppel
Honors 2211-007

Marcel Gaztambide said...

Hello!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to class the day that you visited but I wanted to let you both know that your story is truly inspiring. I think we are all really lucky to read and learn about the things you have come to realize in dealing with this experience.

The one question I have, and forgive me if it has already been answered somewhere on this blog, is what do you miss the most about your former way of life? Looking back, what do you wish you gave more value?

Also, what was the name of the Basque physical therapist at the South Davis Rehabilitation Center? I happen to be a member of the Utah Basque Dance group and I might know them.

Thanks again and I wish you the best.

- Marcel Gaztambide

Wesley said...

Howdy!
It has been some time since Peggy came to our class and spoke to us about your incredible courage and strength. With your recent return to your home, (for good hopefully!) I was wondering if it has gained any symbolic value to you. Does it bring back memories of a "better time" or is is exactly as you hoped while you were in the hospital?
You are truly an inspiration,
Wesley