Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

August 30, 2013

Brain-injured singer clings to her faith

TRAVERSE CITY — Jessica Hoover won’t be the headliner when she steps on stage with her acoustic guitar Saturday at the Bayside Festival. But the four-song set she plays will be the most important of her life.

Jessica, 23, will rely on her faith to carry her through and calm her nerves, just as it has for most of the past year.

She won’t recognize most of the crowd before her, but there will be a few familiar faces, ones she wouldn’t have known just nine months ago.

Jessica vividly recalls the day that nearly silenced her voice. It was Dec. 16, 2012, she said as she glanced down and nervously rubbed her hands together.

It’s still hard to talk about, hard to think about.

There was a lump on her head and a man stood over her with a concerned look alongside doctors and nurses when she awoke in the Munson Hospital Emergency Room. Somehow Jessica knew the man was her father, though she couldn’t recognize his face or voice.

The man who had been a pillar of comfort in her life was no more familiar than a stranger on the street.

“She was smiling at me, but there was nothing there,” said Carolyn Hoover, Jessica’s mother. “You see things like this in movies, but it never really happens, does it?”

Jessica knew the man was her dad, but didn’t know his name and couldn’t recognize his face. He tried to calm her, to explain that sometime that afternoon, while working at a retail store where she was a manager, an accident occurred. Something struck her head. She suffered a traumatic-brain injury.

Her memory was gone, maybe forever.

Doctors told Jessica and her family that there was no way to tell when or if she would regain her memories. There was no more they could do but send her with her family to their Williamsburg home to recuperate.

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