I have been reporting on Sago mine survivor Randy McCloy's recovery for two months now, and yesterday, I interviewed his wife, Anna. While I had seen and heard her speak at the few press conferences she has held so far, I have never seen her as relaxed and animated as she was yesterday. The reason is simple: She told me it wasn't until just a week ago that she felt Randy was showing signs of real recovery -- speaking to her and their children, able to remember details, and perhaps most important, shining through with a sense of humor.
For much of the past two months, she and Randy's doctors have described his recovery as "miraculous" and "exceeding their expectations." But in talking to them yesterday, it became clear that while they have been optimistic, it is really only now that they are confident of Randy's ability to regain much of what the Sago mine disaster threatened to take from him forever -- his essential personality, his ability to interact with friends and family.
Anna has become well-practiced at dealing with the media. She told me with a big chuckle that Randy will most likely roll his eyes at the notion of being the center of attention. She says he's aware that a lot of media attention awaits him when he leaves the hospital. My guess is there will be a temptation to cast Randy as a symbol of all that is good and troubled about the coal mining industry. Even without that burden, it would be challenging enough for them to handle all of the interview requests and shrug off the inevitable misrepresentations that happen when stories are retold.
I just hope they can regain some peace and quiet and reconnect with their community, which has lost so much.