The first thing I saw when I woke up was a white ceiling with thousands of black little dots placed randomly. The walls were an eggshell white color, with flowers and bugs placed aimlessly throughout the room. My bed was small; I was almost falling off of it. There was about a thousand different wires and tubes running through me. It was the most uncomfortable thing.
What surprised me was the lack of pain I was in. I imagined that whatever I had done to end up like this was pretty extensive and should probably feel some sort of pain. But I didn’t feel anything. A nurse came in and checked on me. She looked surprised that I was up. She came in, looked at my chart, and added something to my IV.
“You’re a lucky girl.” The nurse said at me. She smiled at me and told me she was going to go get my parents.
While the nurse was gone I tried to think of my parents. What did they look like? Did I have any brothers or sisters? Were they in whatever accident I was in? I tried to conjure an image in my head of what they looked like, but couldn’t.
Two people came through my doors. I’m guessing they were my parents. They had big smiles on their faces, with teary eyes. They looked genuinely happy. I didn’t want to be the one to break the news that I had no idea who they were. They came to my side and patted me on the shoulder, and grabbed my hand. They started to talk to me real slowly. I just nodded at whatever they said and tried to smile.
When they finished talking to me, a guy with big glasses, brown hair, and big bushy eyebrows dressed in a white lab coat walked in.
“You’re lucky to be alive little girl. You had a big accident. Luckily it wasn’t yours or any of your friends fault. A drunk driver ran into your car head on. Emily and Clark are dead. You, by some miracle, were saved. You have major head and spinal trauma that you may never get over.”
I looked over to my “parents” and they looked shocked. My “Dad” had his arms around my “Mom” who was sobbing in her hands. I tried to remember who Emily and Clark were.
The doctor went on, “Most likely you have minor memory loss. You probably have no idea who these people are, what accident you were in, or who Emily and Clark even were. Everything will eventually come back to you. But for now you need to rest. You have long and vigorous physical therapy exercises a head of you.”
I closed my eyes, hoping that when I opened them I would have a better understanding of what was going on.
I had a very real dream. It was horrifying, well not at first. I was in the back seat. Music was blasting and I was laughing. Everybody was laughing. We were probably speeding, but it was so dark out that I couldn’t see. It was amazing that Clark could see, even with the lights on.
Then all of the sudden something happened. The car swerved and I think I screamed. It swerved again and somebody else screamed. Then there was another pair of lights, and a collision. I flipped upside down and to the side. The door came open and I hung on for dear life. I was screaming. I heard Emily scream again and then stop. The car had skidded off the road and ran into a tree. With a loud BANG! Everything went black.
I woke up to the sound of the respirator machine. My heart was racing and the machine knew it. A nurse rushed in looking worried. She probably didn’t know what was going on.
“Are you okay?” She asked me. I nodded my head trying to make my mouth say something, but my mouth wouldn’t obey. My parents came in again. I vaguely remembered them now. I remembered this last Christmas, I don’t remember what I got, I just remembered waking up and having my mom take pictures of me coming down the stairs. I tried to smile at the thought but again my mouth wouldn’t move.
My Mom came in again and cried on my lap. I wondered how long it had been since she enjoyed a hot meal, or a warm shower, or even a clean change of clothes. She probably lived in this hospital for the past week, or however long I had been out.
My Dad came in and held my hand. He told me stories about when I was little. He told me about the time I woke up with a fever and he took me to the park at three in the morning and we just played together. Tears were in his eyes but he didn’t look afraid. He looked hopeful.
The doctor came in my room again and said “I’m afraid you tested positive for cancer. I’m glad we caught it. It’s actually very treatable since we caught it early. I recommend we start Chemo right away. If you have any question please ask Elliot here.” He pointed to the nurse in pink scrubs. She had a smile on her face, unlike the doctor.
“Hi! My name is Elliot, I’m so sorry about the cancer, but I am going to stay with you and help you through your treatment.”
For the first time in a long time I felt like I was being taken care of. She looked at my chart again and studied it for a while. My dad stroked my hair and squeezed my hand. He was shocked about the cancer, and probably should of left to get my mom, but he didn’t leave me. He truly was my dad.
“I’m gonna do a few tests to determine the damage of your spinal injuries.” She held up a long needle and my stomach screamed. I hated needles. She started poking it into my toes. I couldn’t feel anything. She sighed and moved to my hand. She stuck me with it, probably expecting me not to feel anything because she poked way too hard! I cringed and pulled my hand back.
I looked at my hand. I could move it! I smiled and tried to think of something to say. I looked at the nurse who looked just as excited as I was.
“I felt it!” I said in a quiet voice. My voice was raspy and worn out, but I still had it. I was ecstatic.
“We’ve made some great progress with you today. You need to get your rest now, tomorrow we’ll start physical therapy and Chemo. You’re going to have to be a trooper and bear with us. In order for you to get better you need to give it one-hundred and ten percent of your focus.” And with that the nurse left.
I looked up at my dad. He nodded and smiled at me, this time a tear was streaming down his cheek.
“Dad, why do you think I was saved?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know why God kept you alive, but he did it for a reason. He has a special plan for you.”
This wasn’t the answer that I wanted. I believed in God and believed that he helped me during all of this. But why me? Why couldn’t he have saved Clark or Emily?
I fell asleep fast. All of the thinking made my angry, and my head was starting to hurt. This time I dreamed a nice dream. Clark and Emily were with me again. We were all laughing like the night in the car. We were just laughing. Then Clark leans over to me and says two words. “You’re strong.” Then Emily nodded and said, “You can do it, and you have a good future planned for you.” I stopped laughing, and I hugged both of my friends for the last time. And then everything faded.
I woke up, this time not with the respirator machine on the fritz. I was alone this time. I wasn’t in a life threatening situation any more so everybody was more relaxed around me. I think my Mom and Dad finally went home and got a good night’s rest.
I had no idea what time it was. It was probably in the dead of night, because if it wasn’t my parents would probably be here by now. This was good though, I needed some alone time. Some thinking time all to myself.
I thought back to my dream. Did Emily and Clark really believe that I was the stronger one? Was I kept alive because I could take this? Then I thought about something that Emily had said to me. She said that I had a good future ahead of me. Maybe that was why I was kept alive, because I had not finished what I was meant for.
I had to make a decision right now. I had to decide to give it my all, or live like this forever. The obvious choice for me was to give it my all. I was going to try for the rest of my life to walk again. I wanted to triumph over cancer and I wanted to be able to be normal. This was it, I was going down a path that I knew I had to take. It was definitely the harder path, but it was going to be worth it.
I waited for another hour pondering and thinking about everything that had happened. I doubted myself at times and felt really confident at other times. I wiggled my fingers back and forth, giving myself the confidence that I needed to go on. I prayed that I would be able to succeed, that I wouldn’t waste a perfectly good miracle. I prayed that I would survive this miracle.
After a while my parents came in my room. It had been the first time that I had seen my mom since I learned I had cancer. She wasn’t really crying but she just looked sad. I tried to be tough. I wasn’t going to cry. I was going to be strong.
“I know the last thing that you want to hear right now is this, but we need to know. Emily and Clark’s funeral is in a couple days and we want to know if you want to attend. I know that you want to, but I’m sure everybody would understand if you didn’t come, due to your… condition.”
I frowned; I knew I wanted to go. And I should go. If I was going to be strong I needed to be able to have the courage in myself. But I couldn’t get my hopes up, I knew that the doctors would never agree to let me out of the hospital, even for a second.
“I want to go. I can’t though. I’m not strong enough, and what am I supposed to do? Go in this? I can’t even sit up yet.”
My parents nodded and smiled, “Of course, we already knew the answer, we just wanted to be sure with you” My dad said, in his deep, gruff but loving, voice.
A lady came in the room pushing a cart, completely filled with flowers and bouquets. She started unloading them into my room.
“Since we already knew that you weren’t going to the funeral, we are bringing the funeral to you.” My mom smiled at me. The lady with the flowers was unloading and arranging the flowers in my room to look like a garden. I smiled. It was one of the prettiest things I have ever seen. Every type of flower was in the room, colors surrounded me. This is exactly what I imagined heaven would be like.
After the woman finished putting all of the flowers in my room she left. Days flew by. I slept most of the day and stayed up all night, thinking. I think my parents were now completely nocturnal.
The funeral was going on right now. My parents were down at the church supporting Emily and Clark’s family. I wondered if Emily’s mom was mad that I was the one that lived, or if Clark’s dad was disappointed that I was still alive. I knew that it wasn’t true, but of course the thought had to cross my mind at some point.
After the funeral people filtered into my room, some of them I knew, others I didn’t. It was the same thing over and over again though. They wanted to say they were “Sorry” or that they “Hoped I got better.” I always just smiled, and said thank you. The flowers in my room made it really easy to imagine a peaceful place, a place where people weren’t bugging me every ten seconds.
Then I realized something, all of these people knew, and loved Emily or Clark. If I gave up I would be letting all of them down, and more importantly I would be letting my friends down. It had been a long day and I didn’t want to have to think about anything exhausting, it might dampen my spirits.
My nurse came in and changed the bag for my IV. She smiled at me.
“Do you think that I will ever be able to walk again?” I asked her. She stared back at me, petrified. All nurses hated any question about a patient getting better. They wanted to sound hopeful but didn’t want to give a sense of false hope.
“I think that if you believe you’re going to walk again, you will walk again. I’ve looked at your chart and your condition and you definitly have a chance. The damage to your back can be easily healed and fixed. Of course you’ll have many years of re-teaching yourself. It will take all that you possibly have.” She smiled down at me. The answer didn’t make me feel any better at the moment, but that might have been due to the fact that it had been a long and tiring day.
“I’m ready to give it my all. You want to know what really bothers me? I still can’t feel my toes. I can feel and even wiggle my fingers but not my toes.”
“Well do you want to know a secret? We have no clue why you can’t feel your toes. The doctor actually told me to come in and take another test. I’m going to prick you again to see if you can feel again.”
I prayed one last time. Please God, Please let me feel something, anything! The nurse had the needle out. I think that even she was praying that I said something. She stuck my toe.
“OW!” I cried. Then the tears came, from both of us. God had answered my prayer!
Ten Years Later
Things always end up good, and if it’s not good then it’s not the end. This was my inspiration throughout everything. Every time I fell down trying to walk, I told myself that it wasn’t the end. I would get back up and try again.
My cancer went into remission two years after the crash. I still have horrible back problems and can’t walk for more then one hour. But I can walk. That was my goal, and I defied all of the doubts that I had, or doubts that the doctors had.
I raised money and funded a new wing in the hospital, that was dedicated to helping people overcome serious injuries.