Julie Stillman was 55 years old when a blood vessel in her brain suddenly burst. The hemorrhagic stroke left her unable to compose a simple sentence – a hard blow for a woman who built a career in book publishing.
It also robbed her of the ability to speak properly. But not the ability to sing.
Now 69, Stillman is one of several dozen stroke and brain injury survivors who lift their voices in joy as part of the Aphasia Choir of Vermont. There are a handful of such choirs springing up around the world, giving stroke survivors and people living with dementia or other brain injuries a chance to tap into one of the few means of communication left to them.
“To hear that clarity and volume, it’s like magic,” said Stillman’s husband, Jeff Nagle, whose last fluid conversation with his wife took place 14 years ago on the phone, an hour before he found her on the floor of their home. “It’s amazing to see this happen.”