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Physical Breakdown Provides Opportunity for Emotional Healing

Watching Sage Marshall piece together colorful quilts, you see no signs of the devastating stroke that left her paralyzed and unable to speak just a few years ago.

With quiet determination, she fought her way back. Along the way she healed not only her body, but also her soul.

Before her stroke, Marshall was an aspiring fitness model and happily married with two children. But when her 4-week-old daughter Audrey died of suspected SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the loss sent her into a spiraling depression.

"I'd wake up and think, 'Oh my god. I have to go through this another day,'" she said.

For years, Marshall locked herself away inside her home. Even after having another daughter, Ava, she struggled to pull herself out of crippling despair. In 2014, she suffered kidney failure and had a massive stroke.

"I lost my speech, ability to walk, to eat," she said.

Her daughter Ava was 10 years old at the time.


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"It was pretty hard. It was like she wasn't there," Ava said about her mother.

While the stroke left Marshall's body paralyzed. It had the opposite effect on her spirit. The incident changed her thinking in a way that left her liberated from her grief. Her depression vanished.

"So, in an odd way, the stroke freed me of the bondage I was in because of the grief," she said. "Ironically, after the stroke, I have more light in my life."

Marshall worked with a therapist to regain her ability to speak and walk and even swim. While she needs dialysis three times a week and is waiting for a kidney transplant, her zest for life is back.

"She's extraordinary and she creates in everybody that desire to reach out and be connected more and to give back more," Tsgoyna Tanzman, a speech and language pathologist, said.

Now, Sage spends her days knitting and making quilts at a local church to donate to women's shelters.

"Every year I see a little more of her coming back, it's awesome," Ava said.

Using her hands is good for Sage's recovery, but she says the real healing comes from making something beautiful for someone in need.

"Something magical happens when you're able to give," she said. "It's like a healing for me, because at least I can do something."

Sage now dreams of going back to school to study behavioral science, inspired by her own remarkable journey.

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