Wow! I was just reading your last email thinking of you both...and up popped your message. What a great picture, Donna!! I miss you, too. I wore my frogs yesterday with a big smile. Hope all is well. Love you always,

Terryn D. (David and Donna's friend and occupational therapist from Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, California)


Donna, you poor kid…but yet, you’re one STRONG SURVIVOR & so is David…’ve been through hell…of course, you MUST use that & write about it….it will help others. Just went through your web site…What a job you do on it…AMAZING!!!

How old are your kids now??? AND ARE YOU TEACHING & HAVE AN AID FOR DAVID…or are YOU working with him all day & have given up teaching????????????

Keep up the incredibly good work & spirit…you are to be admired….you are a role model…therefore but for the grace of God go we all…down the same path…for ourselves or our loved ones…keep writing…& your pictures are look GREAT!!!

CHRONICLE picked up one of my books, WHEN LOUIS ARMSTRONG TAUGHT ME SCAT…they just signed an artist…& my biog. of him is going the rounds… & just finished another picture book about a witch who gets “broom sick”…
Good luck…love & hugs,

Muriel W. (Donna's writing friend)


Nice tribute, a great story, let's hope it continues to get better.

Saul S. (David's colleague and friend from Columbia University)



I admire your efforts! All the best to you and David.

Saleem Khan (David's colleague and friend from University of Pittsburgh)


Dear Donna:

I read the story on your website. Great writing, and very compelling. Your cheerful manner whenever we visit belies the great hardships that you continue to work through. May the situation continue improving, no matter how slowly!

Best regards,
David B. (David's former graduate student -- now an Associate Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine)


Donna and Dave:

I read through the entire TBI section of your web site. Thanks for the narrative. I'm sure it only scratches the surface of what you've been going through, but I appreciate the glimpse.

Donna, I also read some of the comments from your students. You're obviously having quite a lasting and very positive impact on a lot of people.

Dan K. (David's friend from graduate school)


Dearest Donna,

I have always thought you could do anything and now I know I'm right. Your labor of love for your husband has moved me. I believe things happen, even as traumatic as your nightmare, for a reason. It's usually not evident right off why but I feel you and David will produce as much or more good as a result of the bad you've had to endure. Amazing courage is shown by both of you. The fact is you're a team with a hard and rewarding road ahead. You are both in my daily most positive thoughts and prayers. Peace,

sÜe (Donna's writing friend and her co-host of the Children's Writers Workshop on AOL))


Just wanted to tell you how touched I was by what you wrote. It's hard for me to know whether I feel that way because of my sentiments for Dave or because of the way you put the whole story together. The combination of the photo's and the story make everything come to life. Anyway thanks for forwarding that to me. I was so happy to see you and Dave at Scott's place last week. I think that Dave is continuing to make progress and with his will power who knows where he will be in 6 more months. Donna i also just realized that you sent me an e-mail about Dave's teaching award . . . So thanks for that email, as well.

Dan F. (David's colleague and friend from UMDNJ)


Donna and Dave,

The TBI website tells an incredible tale. David provided motivation and high standards throughout my graduate career; the two of you continue to do so.

Val T. (David's former graduate student - now an Assistant Professor at Bard College)


Donna and David,

Hi, I am so moved, from what I just read, it's hard to say what I feel. It seems that so many of our lives, in this family, have been so adversely affected in the past 2 1/2 years and I don't know why. I DO know, after getting together with you both last month, what you are going through and I know it's hard. I have the utmost respect for the both of you for staying "one" in such a hard time. Sometimes, it seems so easy to quit, but let me assure you, the next path you go down is not as easy, as one may think. I wish I knew why life turns out the way it does and not the way one expects. Please give each other a HUG from me.
I Love You Both,

Mark (Donna's brother)


Hi Donna,

I just finished reading your TBI page. It is a wonderfully detailed account of before, after and the present. David is amazing and so are you. I hope you are finding a little time for yourself this my mother used to say "You can't run a car on empty"....take care of yourself!

Judy T. (Donna's wonderful friend)

I met Judy at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after her husband, Steve, was admitted for a brain trauma, too - just two weeks after David. Then Judy and Steve came to Kessler, where we firmed up our friendship. Judy is probably the ONLY one who even comes close to knowing what I am going through, since she is going through the very same thing with her best friend, too. I'm holding her hand. She's holding mine.



I knew when I didn't hear back from you months ago that you had to be under the most incredible duress. Oh honey. I am so proud of all you are doing to help heal David. Muriel called me tonight and told me about your site. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. I cried and yet, in your Donna way, you made me laugh.


Miss you much. All my love to you and please know I am keeping you in my heart. We WILL Kindle again one day. {} Together. {}

Pamela Ross (Donna's writing friend)


Hello there Donna,

I read " A Livning Nightmare" last night and began crying. I started emailing you back and accidently deleted it-blurry vision I think. You and David are my hero's. Always have been , always will be. Thank you for sharing your experiences and love for him. Your words touch me deeply.

As for the pictures....hee hee hee. They brought back such great memories. I loved them!!! You words were too kind. I had so much fun!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It was so funny to get your email at the very same time I was thinking of you and reading your last communication. I keep looking for Jared but I never see him. He is so wonderful. Please give him my number: . . . .

I'm still trying to figure out how to come and of these days...look out:)

Donna, I miss you and think of you and David in the quiet evenings and early mornings. My heart is with you. Take care.

Terryn D. (David and Donna's friend and occupational therapist from Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, California)


Hi Donna,

Thanks for the updates. I can see the loving relatiuonship that you and David share and it sounds as though progress is being made. You are so optimistic about the whole ordeal!!

Anne Mueller (Director of the Oregon International Council Seminar for Spanish Teachers)


Hi Donna-

I had no idea about David's injury. I'm so sorry to hear about the struggles--I can't imagine how hard, scary, and frustrating this has been for you both. Thank you for posting the story--you write with such honesty, inspiration, and hope. You and David seem to be handling this with such grace--how inspiring. I miss our time in Puebla, too, and think of that summer so often. Much peace to you and David. You both will remain in my close thoughts.

Carmen Brock (Fellow Spanish Teacher who was also awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to study with the Oregon International Council (OIC) in Puebla, Mexico.)



This is riveting. Man, Donna, that is so moving. Did you publish this elsewhere, too? It reads like something out of Reader's Digest or one of those ladies' magazines with the "How We Survived" kinds of stories. I think it would be a wonderful book.

Roxyanne Young (Editor of SmartWriters Journal at


Hi, Donna,

Thanks for sending this. It's a great piece and I'm glad to have the update and know you're both on the recovery road, though it's a long one.

I also enjoyed seeing photos of your kids and granddaughters. Gorgeous, all of them!

Much Love,
Marilyn Singer (Donna's writing friend)


Hi Donna,

I just finished reading about David. I was amazed and touched by your story. You've got to make a book out of it. It will help and inspire so many other people going through the same or similar situations.

I loved the pictures. I hadn't realized I hadn't ever seen any pictures of David before. You two really have a very special connection. It's very obvious in your story and also, I think, a very rare relationship. You're really lucky to have each other.

I know David will continue to improve. I hope you reach the end of your tunnel very soon. I will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.

Gayle Williams (Donna's writing friend)


Donna and David,

Your journey--one courageous step at a time--inspires others to find their way to the light. I am honored by your friendship.

Blessings to both of you,
Nancy McDonough (very dear friend - Nancy was my mentor teacher while I was doing my student teaching. We've been friends for a LOT of years.)


Dear Donna,

I just visited your website and caught up on your recent challenges. Bravo to you and your family for your approach and sense of humor and your appreciation for the important things. What an admirable lesson for us all.

My very best,
Pam Munoz Ryan (Donna's writing friend and author of one of her favorite books, Esperanza Rising)



My god here is a huge hug and a tear for both of you. I have missed you both so much and I am overwhelmed by this news. I went to your site and am all caught up with what is happening. My thoughts are with you.

Suzanne Shelden (Donna's writing friend)


Hi Donna,

I just read the "nightmare" update and looked at the pictures. An amazing piece - you are courageous to open up like that and give a bigger glimpse of what you and Dave are going through. He is lucky to have you and his great family. The people that surround someone with a TBI make all the difference. I think one of the things that struck me most was the picture of Dave in his running suit at Christmas before the stroke - being active with his big smile. But it seems the spirit from which that activity and energy come from are carrying him through some major obstacles now. I wrote Dave an email the other day, but please give him my best again.

Jim Wilson (David's former graduate student - now an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University)


Hi Donna,

My prayers are with you and your family as you maneuver through this
obstacle course of life.
Thanks for sharing your story and inspiration via your website. I've thought
of you a million times since our days in Mexico. You are one strong and
vibrant woman and I wish you peace always.

Love to you and yours. Hang in there!!! Keep smiling!
Jennifer Peppe (Fellow Spanish Teacher who was also awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to study with the Oregon International Council (OIC) in Puebla, Mexico.)


Dear Donna,

I was so glad to see your email in my in box and so moved by your account of what you and David have been through. Thank you for sharing this most difficult of experiences in a way that is instructive to all who read it. Your love and determination are simply wonderful. What a pair the two of you are! I'm proud to know you.

You are amazing! Truly a woman of heart. Your website brims with love. Thank you for the gift of it.

I am honored to be your friend, Donna. All the best to you.

Sarah Lamstein (Donna's writing friend -- author of I Like Your Buttons and Annie's Shabbat)


Hello Figurskis,

Just received the note from Bob Freschi and wanted to write you all to check in and say hello. I will write Dave on his e-mail to "catch-up" since our Phi Kap days at PITT.

Godspeed to you all,

John & Linda Lednak (David's Phi Kappa Theta fraternity brother and wife)


Brother Dave,

I hope you remember me. I pledged Phi Kappa Theta in my second semester freshman year, as you were a graduating senior. We didn't know each other long, but it was a small house and we knew each other well. That was almost 40 years ago, but my college days seem like yesterday to me. We local Pittsburgh Phi Kaps still get together regularly for lunch, and sit together at Pitt Football games. We tailgate together and pass around the old photo composites, and still embellish stories of our college days way beyond the truth. My prayers are with you and Donna for your full recovery. If anyone can do it, you can. Get well so you can join us at a Pitt game soon.


Rick Moses (David's Phi Kappa Theta fraternity brother)


Congratulations on your ongoing success and courage as the "comeback kid". I wish you well. Enjoy every minute of everyday with your family, friends and colleagues.You two are a great team!

Fraternally yours,
John F. Shega, MD (David's Phi Kappa Theta fraternity brother)
Phi Kap '74


Hi Donna and David,

It's always good to hear from you. I'm glad you are writing about this experience,Donna. I'm sure it helps to get out some of your frustrations. Great job on the web site. Congrats to David on his speech and getting back to work a little.

Please stay in touch. It's always good to know David is progressing.Donna, hang in there. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you two.Writing may be your salvation. Always know we care and are praying for both of you. Continued good luck.

Love you both,

Joyce (David's cousin and a member of our wedding oh so long ago)


Dear Donna and Dave,

I am a fraternity brother of Dave's. A fellow "pledge-mate" just sent me a link to your site. . . . When I saw the mention of Dave's trip to Santa Cruz and then a picture of Domincan Hospital ... well, it became a smaller world.

It is good news to learn that Dave's cognitive mind is intact. As for
strength, patience, and persistent, you must certainly match his. We send our support.

Michael Bashista (David's Phi Kappa Theta fraternity brother)



I have followed your journey through Donna's emails, and am so happy for you
that you are doing so well. Three years ago, no one could have predicted how
far you'd come, and the day you went back to work you had everyone in a
state of suspended belief.  You must have worked extraordinarily hard to get
there, and to continue along this rewarding path.

I hope the rest of the journey finds you healthy, happy, productive and
as forward-looking as ever.

Barbara (Seuling) 
(Donna's colleague in children's books)
(Donna's writing friend and author of How To Write a Children's Book and Get It Published and Whose House . . . and lots more.)

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