Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Loving Memory of Saja from Tammy (seen on Little People, Big World Iraq episodes)




We would like to thank all of our readers and people who have left kind comments, messages and emails regarding the Salman family. I am sure by now most of our visitors are well aware of their situation as we had an article with Russell Hayes and a shared the very heart-breaking news of Saja's passing.

http://spiritswander.blogspot.com/2009/12/matt-roloffs-friend-us-soldier-russell.html

http://spiritswander.blogspot.com/2010/01/heart-breaking-news-regarding-salman.html

For those who might not know all the details, Tammy, is the female U.S soldier who was seen very briefly in one of the episodes when Matt Roloff visited the Salmans in Iraq. Viewers are probably more familiar with Tammy as the person identifed as "Mom" by the Salman children -- she was on the phone in the scene viewers saw in the Roloffs living room.




This is from Tammy and can be read in full below:


"Saja, my beautiful daughter Saja, how honored I am to be called your mom. You gave without asking. You loved unconditionally. The simpliest things brought you great joy. Your eyes glowed with happiness and haunts me with your pain. Your courage and strength, oh baby, you fought so hard. What was you looking at the last night? I could see it in your eyes that you were telling me to see what you saw. I kept asking you what/where and you kept beckoning me to see but I wasn’t able. Was it the angels? That night your eyes were amazing to look into. You had inner radiance that was breathtaking. To glaze into your eyes I knew, sweetheart, I knew…..

Baby, you cried for me because you left me behind in a bad situation. I cry for you because I’m selfish and miss you. You now live with the angels and our Heavenly Father, how can I be sad about that? I will love you forever, my darling child.

The greatest joy I had was being able to hold Saja after they took all the tubes off of her. I always yearned to do that. Hold and rock her in my arms as I do the other children. I know she considered herself a young woman, vice a child, but the mother part of me just wanted to hold and love her. She will never be forgotten."

Tammy read all of your comments here and emailed us, offering to share her journey. It is well worth the read as I am sure it will touch your heart and there won't be a dry eye when finished. We would like to thank Tammy for taking the time to write and share her story and pictures with us.

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Hello,
I read your update about Saja on your website. I was touched by the comments people wrote. I'm not certain if you want to post the below but I did want to share with you to use as you see fit. Saja was a true angel. The below covers the three weeks Saja was in the hospital. -- Sincerely, Tammy


Saja - 10 September 1995 - 29 January 2010
In loving memory
Many of you already read this on the Facebook page but I wanted to share with those who do not have facebook)


8 Jan - Salt Lake
This morning when the technician went to put in the IV line I was holding Saja's hand and her sister, Dhuha, was holding her in her lap. Saja was speaking Arabic and I thought Saja was praying. After it was over I asked Dhuha what was Saja saying and she said "Help me, they are killing me, I am died". It really didn't take that long and Saja quickly recovered from the experience but one of the major questions I asked the doctors on Saja's behalf was if she would receive medication for the pain. They all reassured us she would and Saja was glad. When they wheeled her into the operating room she was so brave and strong. She didn't cry much. She knows she is greatly loved.

We are into hour 8 and the doctors are saying two more to go. The trach went in well. This morning Dr. Park also mentioned he would be taking out her tonsils and adnoids when placing in the trach. All I could think was "Oh my God, that poor child". Tonsil operation, in and of itself, is a hard operation but to throw them on top of the others. But the father, mother and Chief Hayes are all glad they will be coming out and Dr. Park said it would help her breathing in the long run.

So the first surgery went well with the breathing tube, trach, tonsils, and adnoids. A couple hours later the call came that the neck fusion also went well with fuzing the skull and neck. Now they are working on cutting her from the base of the skull to the tip of her bottom and straightening out her spine. They will also place two rods in her back for better stabilization. They said this surgery will take about five hours.

It's almost midnight and I'm in the PICU with Saja. We had quite a scare earlier with the instability of Saja's trach. She had to go into emergency surgery to reinflate one lung and they had to replace her trach tube. Right now she's on some strong medication to rest and recover. She opens her eyes and I can see the fear. She wants to speak which is not possible for maybe a week or so. I am glad I can keep this computer in her room because when she wakes I can put on some Arabic music for her to listen to from the internet. Now she is lying flat on her back which is something I never saw before. She's absolutely beautiful. Before she lost her breathing today I had five seconds seeing her lying there with no tubes sticking out of her and lying on her back. They were the five most wonderful seconds I have ever experienced. Since she had the follow on surgery, after her ten hour surgery, she now has tubes sticking out everywhere but, to me, she's still beautiful. I honestly thought we lost her there.......

Today she is staying steady. They prepared for a code blue when taking her up for xrays and placing in the feeding tube. The trach is so unstable but there was no serious issues. They did sedate her more because she was getting a little nervous. Her new trach will be in on Tuesday and they will change. After that its only a matter of getting her stabilized, get her off the ventilator machine and she can then be moved to the Shriner's Hospital for the next part of her rehabilitation.

Today she woke with a high fever. They placed ice packs around her. She is agitated because her tongue is severely swollen and overlaps her lips. They are trying to integrate the ventilator and her own breathing but she wasn't able to cope well with that yet. She did sleep a lot today which I see as a sign of healing. Rest and prayer cures all...'


The specialized trachs arrived this morning and the surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. Please pass to all to pray for Dr. Park that he remains steady. They all say Saja is walking a precarious tightrope at the moment.

Some people asked how is the family doing. This is such a loving family that when one is away they all feel the absence. Because Warda has five other children under the age of 12, and has to breast feed the baby, she has to stay in Idaho. It is just way too hard for her to be here and also care for the other children. The children love me, call me mom, Saja trusts me, I am honored to be here caring for her. She has my heart.


"This morning brought us closer to God. Saja had another episode with her trach. The nurse noticed it has slipped a little and in Saja's case, a little is a life. All personnel came running and the good news is they were able to get it back in just enough to stabilize her for her specialized replacement tube this afternoon.
My sweet angel, hang in there.......love, mom."


Elvis sang a song with the lyrics "we are closer to heaven when we are down on our knees"......that is what this morning brought us.
Early this morning the nurse noticed Saja's trach slipped. Saja was immediately stabilized and rushed into surgery. Dr. Park successfully placed in her new specialized trach. We thought she was out of the woods but Saja's tongue has been severely swollen all week. Today they placed a block between her teeth and tongue. Abdul had to interpret to Saja not to try and spit the block out. Her tongue......oh my God.....I can't write the words. The reality was too much to witness. Abdul was so strong. Please pray Saja won't lose her tongue or her ability to speak........

Saja is one special young lady. When the doctors and nurses come into the room, and if Saja is awake, she will feebly wave her hand hi and goodbye.


Everyone who cares for Saja,

I hope you don't mind if I call Saja our little girl. The family's culture is if a person cares enough then they become family. So now Saja is a part of your family.

I thought she was doing so well last night. She was able to pee on her own and I thought that was a great improvement. 0400 came around and everything hit the fan. Saja is having a great difficulty breathing, even with the new trach. The nursing staff finally stabilized her and today are running a ton of tests to see if she may have a cold or pneumonia. Her fever has returned and the doctor told me in this mornings round up she is sorry Saja is not improving. The Warrant Officer always say "what you think about, you bring about" so we remain positive. We know she's in God's tender loving care. While she may not be improving she also is not going backward.

Abdul is taking the tongue issue really hard emotionally. The dentist though keeps reassuring us that he doesn't think she will lose it. However, it does look bad and I can see Abdul's concern. Her tongue is still severely swollen with a bite mark almost in half. Good signs are the tongue is still pink in color. If things don't improve within the next two days with her tongue they will paralyze her in order to make molds and enable her mouth to stay open wider so the swelling will decrease. Every time Abdul sees her tongue he becomes very agitated. I just want to pass out.
Yesterday we was able to Skype with Warda in Idaho and Saja. Warda could not get through it and had to be taken to the hospital. She's okay now but is taking this really really hard. Abdul's brain tumor surgery is scheduled for 17 Feb here in Salt Lake.

Last night was very hard on Saja. Her breathing is very erratic. They called in the ENT surgeon and he said her trach is good and stable. The issue is with all her carbon levels, etc. The respiratory therapist came in this morning and said there is not much more they can throw at Saja. She said today is a "wait and see" day and it is up to Saja to take us where she wants to go. She is sleeping peacefully now and that should help her body to rest and regroup.

Today did not bring much change in Saja's health. She seems to have minutes of feeling good then hours of breathing difficulties. She did wake this morning and recognized those at her side and complained about the bite blocks in her mouth. I thought we would be in for a good day since she has the energy to complain. Not much longer after that though all her stats dropped and the respiratory therapist has been playing tag with Saja all afternoon. At the moment she is resting comfortably and these machines seem to have lost their bleeps. Sleep, our angel child and feel better soon.

Saja slept most of today. She is on continuous drip for pain. The doctor has started her back on antibotics for a bacteria they found in her blood. Abdul saw the nurse change her tongue bandage and is a little upset that the swelling is back, but her tongue is still beautiful pink in color. While swollen it looks greatly improved. It will just take a lot of time to heal. The ventilator is set for 100% and they do try and wean her when she tolerates it. She is still walking a tightrope but we remain strong and know God has her in His tender care.

If anyone would have told me I would be sitting on the floor of a hospital sleep room eating an Iraqi meal with a Muslim man I would never have believed it in a million years. I'm a simple woman born and raised in the hills of West Virginia. But today brought a lot of God's people together. Liz and her husband, James, have a child in this ICU who is also seriously ill. They went beyond their own problems and shopped at the Iraqi market and brought Abdul his first Iraqi meal from Utah. As his sister he came for me and we sat down on the floor, used a newspaper as a tablecloth and shared this simple meal. We ate lamb, bread, pickles, tomato, onion. The meal was delicious because it allowed Abdul and I to relax. We talked about Wardah, his beautiful wife, Saja - our sick daughter, Abu Danny, Baraa, Dhuha, Ali, Liz and her husband and the new Iraqi friends they are bringing to Abdul's door to share his burden. Liz has the word out to the Iraqi community to look for Strawberry Shortcake DVDs in Arabic. Strawberry and her friends are Saja's favorite television show. Saja is resting comfortably today and I know it would make her so happy to see God's people coming together. Thank you all for your continued prayers, support, and encouragement.


(This is written from Sandra - the Chief's facebook person) I was told that it was up to me whether or not to post this latest update. After a bit of thought, I have decided to go ahead with the posting, because one thing that is standing out to me is that here we are, more than 200 of us, of all different races, religions, levels of spiritualism, from all across the world, hoping and praying for this little girl, her family and the people who are taking care of them to have strength and to heal, inside and out. When all this started, I remember seeing in the video that Abdul had been praying to God, and asked him to send angels to help his family.

And here we are.

I am of the belief that there are -real- angels, but they also come in the form of people here on this world whose combined love and positive thinking can stand against all sorts of obstacles. For a couple weeks now, we've been channeling our love toward a little girl most of us have never met, yet she touches our hearts.

I will say this much before I post this update: Since I got involved with IDAA and have pleaded so much for Saja, Tammy, Russell and all the family, that things have been different for me in my own life. Better. I -feel- better, and I know that my voice makes a difference. Yours do too...And so I chose to post mostly because I believe this is why we are here. Ultimately it will be God's decision whether Saja stays with her family, and I think we influence that decision. What we're doing does not only help the precious little girl, it affects ourselves, too. Look into your own lives, and see if you think maybe the love you're sharing for a girl you may not have met, and may never meet, has affected how you feel, how others feel around you, and so on. Do not give up. Bring more people here, help to bring entire churches to their knees to pray if you can, and we can help to heal Saja.

The update, at last:

"Last night found Saja knocking on Heaven's door again. I think this would be about the 8th or 9th time since her surgery. As I sat in the chair beside her bed all the doctors ran into the room. I heard the words "crash cart", "bag her", "she's flat-lined", "no pulse". The doctors were so incredibly fast and good and caring. The whole episode lasted about 3 minutes then I heard the words "she's breathing". Heartbeat back to normal. What happened?? they all asked the nurse. It really doesn't take that much for Saja to drop from 100 to zero. A twist, a turn, a touch. She's still walking the tightrope.


After it was over I asked directions to the chapel. Abdul, the Warrant, and I have been raised under three separate beliefs. However, we all have the same faith. Saja is in God's tender loving care. He watches over her each day, each hour, each minute. "


29 Jan 2010
I know many of you want an update on how Saja is doing. She is classified as stable but critical condition. She has made some improvements during the past couple of days and nights. When she is awake she is very alert. Every once in a while I can get a smile out of her. I'm sure she is tired of looking at my face 24/7 so I will put in a Strawberry Shortcake DVD and watch with her. While I know she can't understand the words, I think the tone of the voices and sometimes the singing lulls her into a peaceful sleep.

The critical part of her health continues to be her lungs and the area around her trach. Today was the first encouraging words from the wound team. Still very, very serious but they do see a slight improvement. Thank you my God, Thank you my God.

One day I called my daughter but received voicemail. The message I left was tearful. She wrote these encouraging words:

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. Webster says that beauty is "the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit." The Greeks say that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I say that beauty is expressed, given so to say. Not bestowed on, not earned, but given so naturally. I think that those that hold beauty know not that they have it, and where they go they give a little to those that they touch. Beauty to me is not on the cover of magazines, found on a cosmetic counter, or something you can buy. Beauty to me is God's land, his home, and his children. That small patch of flowers in the empty field, or the star filled sky on a clear night. A child is beautiful, and when they're touched by God, their beauty shines, and when you look at them and smile, they've given you some of it. Saja is beauty, beauty unrefined in its absolute of rarest forms.

Love is defined a thousand ways, to each its own meaning. To each person love is something different, to me love is the kiss goodnight, the someone to hold my hand, first crossing the street, then later when my heart is broken, and then later when I celebrate moments in my life. And for however short of time it felt, you are Saja's holding hand, because of her you've experience beauty untold and because of you she's been shown pure untouchable love.“

Saja, my beautiful daughter Saja, how honored I am to be called your mom. You gave without asking. You loved unconditionally. The simpliest things brought you great joy. Your eyes glowed with happiness and haunts me with your pain. Your courage and strength, oh baby, you fought so hard. What was you looking at the last night? I could see it in your eyes that you were telling me to see what you saw. I kept asking you what/where and you kept beckoning me to see but I wasn’t able. Was it the angels? That night your eyes were amazing to look into. You had inner radiance that was breathtaking. To glaze into your eyes I knew, sweetheart, I knew…..

Baby, you cried for me because you left me behind in a bad situation. I cry for you because I’m selfish and miss you. You now live with the angels and our Heavenly Father, how can I be sad about that? I will love you forever, my darling child.

The greatest joy I had was being able to hold Saja after they took all the tubes off of her. I always yearned to do that. Hold and rock her in my arms as I do the other children. I know she considered herself a young woman, vice a child, but the mother part of me just wanted to hold and love her. She will never be forgotten.

I know many of you have donated funds to help the family and I know the Chief is eternally grateful. He is currently working on acquiring funds for Saja's headstone. When I spoke with him yesterday he stated he took Wardah to sit by Saja's graveside and while she prayed he stayed with her. I know they both are trying to heal from Saja's loss.

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Attached is the place the Warrant was able to move the family to from the shack they saw on tv. It held three beds in a row. Had a small toilet and sink. Warda was able to cook off a camp burner. They lived here over a year and a half before their visas came through.

Not many people would visit them because they were very close to the Red zone. They were very isolated from everything. The burning photo of trash was about 100 feet from their trailor. The children loved when the Chief and I came to visit. I went many times alone until it became too dangerous. One day a friend sent the children some small chairs. You can see their reaction. The children have a thirst to learn; they love to live, laugh, play. They are not very materialistic. Most of all, they just want friends.









Abdul's vehicle

Abdul did have a vehicle. The only thing that kept it going was dirt, spit, and prayer. It left him stranded more times than not but he loved it. The story behind the mattresses is this:


One day while going over to visit the family I saw all of these mattresses in front of their trailor. Wardah and Abdul was piling the mattresses on top of his car. She pulled them out of the trash dump. To her they would help their family members have a better quality of life. In her mind they were clean and usuable. I couldn't believe Abdul was able to get all the mattresses on top of his car and tied down. The rest of the story was about ten minutes later the Warrant was over by the medical clinic and was driving and saw Abdul pass him. He laughed so hard and had to stop and take a photo. Must give Abdul credit, the mattresses did not fall off the top.







Visiting The Family

My daughter and I went to visit the Salman family over the weekend. The last time I saw them was at Saja's funeral, the end of January. There was a lot of tangible changes within the family. The visit was very bittersweet. We laughed and cried and spoke about Saja. In the photos you can see the children enjoying life. Hussein is the youngest at 18 months. He has grown so much. In one photo he is pushing Ali around in a baby stoller, the other counting to ten with Ashley while Taboo is trying to hide. Another photo shows all three children looking out the window with something heavy on their minds. They stayed in this position at least 30 minutes.

Both Ashley and I spent a day at Ali and Baraa's school. I was so very proud of Ali. The school placed him in the 4th grade and when I went with him last November I was a little concerned. No worries though because during Monday's visit he proved how well he is catching up. He was able to recognize each letter by their constantant sound and read the word. He also knows his upper and lower case letters. In Baghdad I was only able to teach them capital letters. Baraa is also doing well. She is reading small books and Ashley helped her compose "my weekend" in her journal. I am attaching the story for you all to read and feel as proud as I do.
Tammy












If you would like to donate to help the Salman family you can visit the website:

http://www.dwarfchildren.org/

5 comments:

Expressed said...

Well, I'm crying now :(

Tammy, I am so very sorry for your loss.

Roxanne said...

This is so sad. I hope the family and friends can find peace and strength. I know they are all incredibly strong people.

Brandon said...

Tammy, you and your daughter (?) express yourselves so well.

On a lighter subject, the pictures of Abdul and the mattresses are hilarious. If it was a video, I would say submit to one of those Funniest Home Video shows or incredible picture of the day contests :)

Em said...

You're all in my thoughts, Tammy. I was so sad to read about Saja's passing.

Rap541 said...

I think some people come into this world for a reason, and Saja was here to show us all how joyful life really is. Saja *lived* life and was joyous and loved the people around her. I am grateful that even in a small way, I was able to know her.