BY CRAIG CROSBY

Staff Writer

MonaRae Yaede was on her way to work Monday, anxious, as always, to see her kids.

She had made the trip countless times before, but this time it changed the course of her life. Her car hit a patch of black ice in West Gardiner and went into a skid that sent the car careening into a utility pole.

Now, the woman regarded by friends and family as one of the kindest they know lies motionless from the chest down inside a Lewiston hospital. Outside of the miracle prayed for daily, MonaRae will never walk again.

“Today was a really good day,” MonaRae’s only child, 22-year-old David Yaede Jr., said Wednesday. “She can write now. There is a lot more movement in the hands and arms. It’s still painful, but given the circumstances, at least we have that much.”

The ability to see small victories in the midst of the tragedy has served the Yaedes and their family well over the past decade of accidents and near-death experiences, including the 2008 machete attack in Pittston on MonaRae’s brother-in-law and niece, William and Nicole Guerrette.

“We’ve already been through difficulties dealing with that,” said MonaRae Yaede’s father, Carlton Lane. “This is a continuation of our family’s bad luck.”

Lane said MonaRae Yaede, 44, always looked forward to going to work at the Children’s Center in Augusta, where she poured out her love and talents on young children with disabilities. She was headed there Monday when, around 8 a.m. when her 2005 Nissan Sentra hit that patch of ice on Hallowell/Litchfield Road in West Gardiner. The impact snapped the pole in two and whipped Yaede’s neck, crushing two vertebrae in the process.

She has been in the intensive care unit at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston ever since.

“We definitely have been told by doctors that there is almost zero chance of avoiding paralysis from the chest down,” Lane said. “We were worried initially it was going to be from the neck down, but thankfully there has been a little movement in her hands and arms.”

A breathing tube makes it nearly impossible for Yaede to talk, but she was able to speak briefly before the surgery to fuse the bones in her neck.

“She didn’t have much to say other than she knew she was going to be paralyzed,” Lane said. “There’s going to be a terrible amount of depression as she comes out of the initial phase of this whole thing.”

Yaede is expected to spend a couple months in the hospital and then more than a year in rehabilitation.

“I would say she’s probably very scared,” said Yaede’s sister, Stephanie Perry. “It’s hard when you’re told you’re paralyzed — to process that. I’m all about miracles and I’m hoping something will happen.”

Yaede split time living at Perry’s house in Pittston and her parents Litchfield home. Money has always been tight, but Yaede has always been quick to give away what little she had, family said.

“She always gives Christmas presents to everyone in the family, sometimes two or three,” Lane said. “She doesn’t have the budget for that, but she just loves giving. She’s always the first one to help and to be there.”

Yaede raised David on her own. He and his girlfriend, Jessica, were the first ones at Yaede’s side after the accident, Lane said. Parents and siblings have taken shifts at Yaede’s bedside since the crash, but her son and his girlfriend have left only when ordered.

“She is caring beyond control, responsible, very strong and (has) high morals, which she gave to me,” David Yaede said. “She gave a lot more than that to me. She’s one of those ladies who just showed you the right way to be.”

Reaching out

Her positive influence is partly what earned Yaede so much respect and affection at The Children’s Center, where she helped with children ages 3 to 5.

“She came to work because she wanted to come to work,” said Tina Carney, administrative assistant at the center. “She wanted to be with the kids. Every second of her being here was about the kids. It was more than a job. It was a part of her.”

A representative of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which assists those who suffer spinal chord injuries, contacted Carney this week. A parent of a former student heard about Yaede’s injury and contacted the foundation.

“For people to reach out like that is great,” Carney said. “It’s because of who she is. The parents know what she’s like and how she feels about their kids. There’s a great sadness here.”

Carney said the center is organizing a fundraiser. This year’s secret Santa party has been replaced with a gift basket for Yaede and her family. The children and parents are collecting gasoline and meal cards and plan on making a quilt and a paper Christmas tree to brighten Yaede’s hospital room.

“It’s stuff that would mean a lot to her because her children here were No. 1 on her list and she loves Christmas,” Carney said. “Everyone’s been really great about letting us know she’s in their prayers.”

Lane said he and his wife, Jeanine, and their family are trusting God to get them through this tragedy just as they have numerous others in the past decade.

Another tragedy

The Lanes’ children have suffered serious physical ailments — including a son who was briefly pronounced dead — and loss. In the spring of 2008 there was a home invasion at the home of the Lanes’ daughter, Melanie Guerrette. Leo Hylton and Daniel Fortune broke into the Guerrettes’ home and repeatedly struck Melanie’s then-10-year-old daughter, Nicole, and her husband, William. The attack left both with permanent injuries.

Daniel Fortune and Leo Hylton were convicted of numerous charges, including attempted murder, and are serving lengthy prison sentences.

MonaRae Yaede kept a near constant vigil at William’s side as he clung to life — in the same hospital where she is now being treated for life-altering injuries.

“I just figure life happens and it happens to be happening to our family for whatever reason,” said Perry, the sister.

Lane said his family has felt the strain, but they continue to support each other.

“We feel like Job,” Lane said, referring to the Biblical character whose family and possessions were wiped out by calamity. “At this point we still seem to try to have a positive outlook and realize we have to accept what hand we’re dealt and continue to do all we can.

“We think we might be picked on a little bit, but we don’t ask God, ‘Why us?’ We kind of accept it as a part of life.”

Craig Crosby–621-5642

[email protected]

 

This story was updated at 3:45 p.m., on Dec. 8, 2011 to correct the spelling of MonaRae Yaede’s first name.