My aunt passed away from cancer a few years ago, and it was a very painful time for my family.
When she finally moved on, she was surrounded by her loving siblings.
Just before she died, she seemed to tightly squeeze their hands.
My family took this as her way of saying “Goodbye,” to them, even though she could not speak.
It sounds a bit romantic and hopeful, but there are cases where people who seem unresponsive reach out and surprise even their doctors.
Terry Wallis is one of the world’s most famous coma patients.
Not just for the length of his deep sleep – he spent 19 years in what doctors call a “persistent vegetative state” after a traffic accident damaged his brain in 1984 – but also for his miraculous recovery.
It’s not clear exactly how aware Wallis was during his lengthy coma.
He would sometimes respond to lights, motion and stimulation, and his family says Wallis would even “lighten up” when friends visited him.
But Wallis could not move or speak – until he finally did one day, seemingly for no reason, and surprised everyone.
Wallis’s nurse was joking around with him in 2004, pointing to his mother and asking if he recognized her.
“Mom,” he said, shocking them both.
Over the weekend Wallis kept talking – asking for milk and Pepsi – and he has been steadily improving ever since.
And doctors say his unique case could help other patients recover from comas and head injuries.