The Most Improbable Story Ever Told
Simon Thomas-Train has graduated from Middlebury; four years have passed since his accident. Following the operation, he spent several days in intensive care and nearly two more weeks in the hospital. Although many members of the surgical team paid a visit to his hospital room after the operation, mainly during teaching rounds, Simon doesn’t remember meeting the lead surgeon. Simon says that he moved past that moment in his life, never forgetting it, of course, but not letting it hold him back, not as a student, not as a collegiate nordic skier, not as a dancer—a relatively new pursuit for him, yet one that he was almost magically drawn to at the College, seduced by its beauty and grace and athleticism. He fell so in love with dancing that he has decided to make it his life’s pursuit and is currently attending the American Dance Festival at Duke University.
Before departing for North Carolina after graduation, Simon wanted to earn a few extra dollars and signed up to work for the alumni office during Middlebury’s Reunion Weekend. On a crisp, clear Friday afternoon in June, Simon grabbed the suitcase of a gentleman returning for his 50th reunion and began walking with the man toward Battel Hall. The elder alum mentioned that he had just flown in from Denmark and was a bit jet-lagged; Simon told him he understood, as he had once lived in Norway. The gentleman asked Simon what he had been doing in Norway, and Simon responded that five years ago he had lived in an small nordic village, studying and skiing before coming to Middlebury. “It was a great year,” Simon said, “until I got in an accident that nearly killed me; gastric surgery will put a damper on most things.”
At that, the gentleman from the Class of ’59 stopped in his tracks.
“May I see your scar?” he asked Simon.
Now, Simon thought this was a bit strange, but he thought he’d humor the guy, so he pulled up his shirt, revealing the faint, pencil-thin line that traced across his abdomen.
For what seemed like an eternity, the gentleman stared at Simon’s stomach.
“I don’t remember your face,” he said, “but I remember that scar.”
It was the surgeon who saved Simon’s life.
At his request, the gentleman from the Class of 1959 will remain anonymous. “No one is a hero for doing his duty,” he says. “The real heroes are my patient, who was young and strong, with the will to survive, and Middlebury, which in the span of four years was able to get me to focus and ‘collect my brains’ to enable me to do my job.”
For a behind-the-scenes look at the writing and production of “The Most Improbable Story Ever Told,” check out Mallory Falk’s audio slideshow “The Miracle.”