Moises and Maria Oliveira sit together on Main Street in the Village of Sandalwood Park, holding hands as they talk, laughing the whole time it seems. She always made him laugh, Moises says: “She says so many things to make everybody laugh.”
But two and a half years ago, the laughter had stopped. Doctors in hospital told Moises after she suffered serious complications with a brain hemorrhage that his wife likely wouldn’t survive. On the off chance she did emerge from the darkness, he was told, she wouldn’t know him or much of anything at all. Her end, it seemed, had come, and Moises was shattered.
“I know I love my wife,” Moises says, his Portuguese accent adding colour to each word, “but before she got sick I didn’t know how much.” He looks to her in the chair beside him and continues. “If you put the whole world beside my wife, the whole world means nothing. To know how much I love, it’s like the universe. If somebody is able to measure the universe, they know, but because still nobody is capable of doing that, then still nobody knows how much I love my wife.”
“She means everything,” he says.
Everything collapsed when Maria was sick and Moises says “a miracle” is what brought her back to him. “It’s unbelievable,” he says. Her recovery was slow. She’d make slight improvements over time and then regress and lose any progress. Each operation and each of three shunts placed in her brain to relieve pressure would erase any positive progress. Neurologists and specialists would open the lids to her eyes and see nothing. “The brain is dead,” Moises was told on more than one occasion.
Hope was but a faint glow, but it never went out completely and in August of 2017 two months before they share their story and more than two years after the dark journey began, Maria started to come back around and all the things the doctors said were set aside day by day. She can eat on her own and she can talk and joke like always. Not only does she recognize her husband; she looks him in the eye with the same mischievous smile as always when she corrects him and his choice of words. “She reads better than me, too,” Moises says. The only thing missing is her ability to walk, but she works in the village gym nearly every day, eager to cross that improvement off her list.
So what is the reason for such a remarkable change? Moises is asked.
“It’s the way we are being treated here,” he says, glancing up and down Sandalwood Park’s Main Street where team members are still tidying up from Diwali celebrations.
“We have a lot of friends here,” Moises says. “They love my wife and my wife loves them.”
In Portuguese, Maria voices her agreement and says she’s eager for the team to help her walk again. It's hard to know exactly what all the factors are that created the medical wonder Maria represents this day, but both Moises and Maria know that the gentle encouragement and the genuine affection offered at Sandalwood Park helps brighten their hope for continued good health.
Every moment together is a gift, Moises says, and he spends as many of them as possible beside his beloved Maria, thankful that just as the universe continues to expand, their love can continue to grow each day.