Visitors with Love and Affection

Since that fateful day in July of ’07, Sam and Erin have had many visitors that want to bring them love, support, and comfort. There have been entertainment celebrities, 4 Star Generals, politicians, motorcycle clubs, and a host of friends, family, and well wishers. All of these incredible people have touched the Neria and Nichols’ families very much; but the visits by Sam’s "Comrades in Arms" have moved me the most.  Specifically, his USMC buddies that were there and with him on that hot day of summer in the desert of Iraq. Thresher, Henley, and Kjenstead (Sp?-forgive me) are three of the names of 6 of his buddies that came to pay him homage this last fall. Pardon me if I fail to remember the other’s names; they were all dear to my heart. This past weekend, Erin and I had the pleasure to host the young Marine that was Sam’s driver when his Humvee was hit by a formed projectile. This handsome warrior’s  name is Jarred Reeder. (he gave me permission to use his name and record my thoughts of his visit)…He was joined by his Jarred & Bernadette_4_4_2009_Palo Alto VA Hospitalgorgeous girlfriend, Bernadette; whom he jokingly claimed was there "to help drive and to keep him awake." Ha! It was obvious to me that She accompanied Jarred for emotional support, as this turned into a very moving visit. It was very enjoyable for me to hear all over again how Sam is held in high esteem by his fellow Marines. Jarred says that Sam’s name is legendary in the 11th regiment of the 2nd battalion of Marines. He had me laughing when he told of grilling new "boots"; (new men to the unit), if they know about "Nichols"? If they don’t, then they are harangued, and then educated…don’t feel sorry for the boot; it is the way of the Marine Corps. A hazing if you will, that allows bonding, acceptance, and of course educates them as to what is appropriate and a priority. I could see the sincerity in his face when Jarred told me that Sam is one of the men that he would like to emulate. This kid wasn’t blowing smoke at me because Sam was injured. He was the real deal; I’ve seen enough to recognize it when I see and hear it. When Erin was out of earshot, (Jared’s respect for Erin) he told me many details that weren’t previously relayed to me by the Marines. I won’t elaborate here, but suffice to know that ALL of Sam’s comrades are heroes and deserve much more recognition than I feel that they have received. As Jarred and Bernadette were leaving for the day; (they arrived on Friday evening, and stayed till Sunday morning to ensure ample visitation with Sam and Erin) Jarred asked for a few private moments with Sam. I understood and it allowed me to discuss Jarred with Bernadette in the hallway. I don’t know what was said between the two men, but it brought this Bible verse to mind when Jarred emerged from Sam’s room. Jesus was speaking and He said, "Greater love has no one than this, That he lay down his life for his friends". John 15:13…I think that summarizes perfectly the bonds that are exchanged by comrades at arms in general, and certainly by Sam and his friends in Kilo Battery….

Sam & Kelly_3_19_2009 You hear from Tony and I often, but not often from the Mom’s associated with Sam’s recovery. I am speaking of Sam’s Mom, Kelley; and Erin’s Mom, Julie. These two ladies are on the forefront of prayer, visitation, and support; but are a little on Juliethe shy side when it comes to writing anything for Sam’s blog. Both write  beautifully and from the heart, but are satisfied with letting Tony and I record our observations of God’s miraculous work in Sam’s recovery. Please know that they are always there, willing to do whatever it takes for Sam and Erin, and offer Sam and Erin much love and support in all they do.

Sam’s room in Palo Alto is affectionately referred to as the "Penthouse", as it is big enough to handle 4 beds, a wheel in shower in the bathroom, and a sofa and recliner. He has no roommate at the moment, but it is a welcome relief for visiting as the rooms at Kentfield were quite small. Speaking of which, Sam had his first full shower at Palo Alto. It is amazing how clean Erin and the CNA’s kept him at Kentfield without the full showering facilities. Erin couldn’t stop stroking his soft hair after his shower. Sam is once again invigorated by the daily therapies at Palo Alto. A rigorous physical, occupational, and speech therapy is performed, along with a massage afterwards. Erin, as Sam’s spouse also gets to take advantage of the massages, and has reported improvement in her shoulder injury from them. As the meds he was getting at Kentfield are reduced and eventually eliminated, he was going through some sleepy times, as some of them were stimulants. The busy schedule seems to keep him awake and alert, and I see that as great progress.

As Easter approaches, I am focusing on the "Resurrection Spirit" that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the same Spirit that raised Sam from brain death, and continues to push and lead him forward to full recovery. As I remember to thank God for Jesus’ miracle, I’ll remember to thank him for Sam’s as well….

Much love and Happy Easter,


8 Responses to Visitors with Love and Affection

  1. Wendy says:

    Happy Easter Erin and Sam! I am thrilled that you are able to enjoy this Easter Season with a PentHouse View and relaxing massages! You deserve them—- and so much more!
    I, too, am focusing on God’s Resurrection Power this Season. Jesus did so much for us, He loves us so much. He continues to intercede and care for us, every single day.
    I remember the first time I prayed for Sam, I could sense that the same Resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead is what continues to propel Sam forward in his healing and will at some point raise Sam from his sickbed. That same Power is what regenerates and resurrects Sam’s tissues as we watch his forward progress.
    I miss you two and pray for you regularly. Erin, your smile is dazzling and bright and lights up the room. Sam, your strength and beauty are captivating. I continue to pray Christ’s strength, healing and power for you both.
    Lots of love and many beautiful blessings to you.
    Happy Easter with Love,

  2. Lori Peoria says:

    Happy Easter to you all! I love to receive the updates. I am so thankful for Sam’s recovery and Erin’s love of Sam.

  3. Dana Williams says:

    What a wonderful blog post! Delighted to hear about the Marine buddies, and also to see Sam looking so wonderful, and the photos of the Moms!
    Many blessings of the Resurrection season to Sam, Erin and all the Nichols’s and Neria’s.
    Much love,

  4. soldiersangelswashington says:

    Happy Easter Sam, Erin, Eric, Tony, Kelley, Julie & families. It’s just so great to hear of the work and progress happening at Palo Alto. Hard work to be sure, but it must feel good to intensify the therapies and forward momentum. I’m really thankful for the visit you all were able to enjoy from Jared and Bernadette. I’m sure Sam and Jared’s private moments will have an incredible impact on future healing. Amazing warriors and I’m so thankful for each of them. Thank you for being a continued inspiration with your generosity of spirit, faith and love.

    “Greater love has no one than this, That he lay down his life for his friends”. John 15:13 …without a doubt.

    Continued blessings and prayers to all.

    Soldiers Angels

  5. angel33eyes says:

    Happy Easter to your entire family! Thank you for your post! It was a blessing to read and hear of such love and hope even amidst trials that I cannot begin to imagine! You are in my thoughts and prayers and I will look forward to updates!
    Grateful American Coin

  6. Jeannie says:

    Happy Easter, many blessings to Erin, Sam and their families.
    Being Greek Orthodox, my easter is next sunday. I will light candles for all of us in god’s blessing.

    Erin looks just like her mom! 🙂


  7. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin & Families!

    Stopping by to say HEY to you all and to let you know that you are in my prayers each and every day. And, of course, you always will be! The words from John 15:13 really hit home don’t they.

    Hope that this week has brought more healing, is bringing you closer to full restoration. And full of healing, relaxing massages! So glad that you get to enjoy them too, Erin!! By the way you look just like your mom!! Nice to “meet” you Kelley & Julie! 🙂

    It is such a gift and a blessing to watch the miracle that IS Sam unfold. It’s opening up just like a beautiful flower. As it’s opening it is emitting faith, hope and love clear across the country (and countries!) like nothing I’ve ever seen, felt or experienced before.

    God bless you Sam, Erin, the Nichols & Neria families. You can count on thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of extra special angel hugs coming your way every single day. HUGS!!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  8. Eric, Sam's Dad says:

    What a great analogy Kris…The cycle of flowers has always fascinated me. They bloom and are beautiful, then they die, only to be reborn again, as beautiful as they were before. God’s plan allows them to come back like they were originally, only fresh and unique as if it were the first time they bloomed. I believe that describes this miracle that is Sam and Erin perfectly. You’re so right that this miracle emits hope, faith, and eventually the total reality to Sam’s restoration. Thank you for your continued input, encouragement, and prayers; and to all the faithful readers of Sam’s blog that are such an integral part of this miracle…God Bless You All!

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