Coffee with Marley Robertson


Marley8On a Friday night in December of 2011 after all of us seminarians had finished our exams and turned our tired eyes toward our families and hometowns we received word that our friend and classmate, Marley Robertson, had been in a serious accident with an 18-wheeler in snowy weather near Roanoke, Virginia. The Earth stopped on its axis. Brain surgery, intensive care and a medically induced coma all came quickly as prayers and fear pierced us all. RSS Pointer

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Marley (front) with seminary friends
Marley (front) with seminary friends

Today as I write this Marley is participating in a graduating ceremony called pinning. It has been a hard road back to where she is today as a survivor of a TBI (traumatic brain injury). And “where she is” is not “where she was.” Every day Marley makes choices fully considering some limitations that she did not need to consider before that snowstorm.

Visiting Marley and her family at the hospital in Roanoke.
Visiting Marley and her family at the hospital in Roanoke.

The fall of 2011 was Marley’s first semester at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and my second year. Marley was quick friends with everyone which is why we all lost our breath at the first fear of losing that new joy and friend in our lives.

Julie (bride), Kristen and Marley
Julie (bride), Kristen and Marley

I know Marley much better now than I did then. As you might well imagine in 21st century America almost all of Marley’s friends have been ever so busy and none of us have stayed close enough with her through her years of recovery. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that Marley is strong like the greatest oak tree. She is gracious and grateful. She has praised her caregivers and all of her friends as we have progressed through the steps we expected to take with her.

Logo RetroYes, Marley compliments accomplishments on Facebook from afar but she also shows up in person. She comes to BTSR graduations. She even travels from Virginia to Ohio when a dorky friend like me gets married. With Marley hope and fun are always in the room. Well, not always. Recovery has awful days, painful, unrelenting days. And brains heal slowly.

Marley4
After Ashlee’s (right) graduation

So Marley’s graduation today from her program to become an Occupational Therapy Assistant is enormous. She has taken a few more classes at the seminary while taking her OT classes. She has driven all across Virginia to attend her class, get to doctors, squeeze in a little fun, and support the loved ones in her life.

Marley1Will she go back to seminary? It’s completely up to Marley. She has already proven that she can do that if she wants to. The rest of the discernment is between her and God. In the meantime she will always be in ministry, bearing the love (and humor) of God to everyone she meets.

Links:

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Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond

Northern Virginia Community College

Traumatic Brain Injury Association of America

Traumatic Brain Injury Association of Virginia

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