Then I was back. Again.
I didn’t dare move a muscle when I awoke. Instead, I tried to pretend I was still asleep. I could hear my mother crying softly and I couldn’t face her just yet. She would ask questions and that was the last thing I needed right now.
I listened to her and I could almost hear the sound of her tears hitting the hospital’s tiled floor. Then I recognized the sound of someone else’s quivering breath. My father sat in the chair next to my mother and I could hear that he was trying to stay calm for her sake. For his sake.
Then I heard the door to my room open, quieter than the last time. I still refused to open my eyes. I wanted it all to disappear, to go away and never come back. The pain of losing you, the pain of knowing I caused my family such grief, the harsh world around me, and this stupid headache--I wished it all gone. But, without you by my side, wishes would hardly ever come true.
The doctor begins talking to my parents in a hushed tone, but I don’t care. I just want to stay quiet and keep wishing. My hand fumbles around with the tube connected to my left arm. I open my eyes in a squint and find that the tube was directly connected to an oxygen tank. It was feeding my air, straight to my bloodstream.
I begin listening intently to the doctor as a plan forms slowly in my head. “Her lungs were severely damaged in the fall. Her spine is broken and she will need surgery and a lot of therapy before she sits up again,” the doctor was saying. That was all I needed to hear.
I grip the chord and pull. The alarm goes off again and my headache gets worse. Lack of oxygen can make your head feel heavy. I couldn’t breathe and I felt my face turn purple. Maybe this would be my final goodbye….
But of course not. Why did I even think that would work? I hadn’t even managed to lose consciousness before the tube was securely placed in my arm again. I keep myself from sighing in defeat.
“Well,” the doctor says, breathing heavily. There’s an edge to her voice like she’s tired of putting up with me. “It seems she’s awake now.” Immediately, my parents flock to my bedside. They lean over me and I finally get a good look at them.
Father’s blue-grey eyes had dark circles under them. He looked as though he’d pulled almost all of his dark brown hair out. His eyes no longer had a bright, dancing look to them. Instead, he looked stressed and gloomier than I’d ever seen him before. It hurt to look at him, so I turned to Mother. She was even more of a mess. Her long, red hair looked darker somehow and was tangled and matted like she hadn’t bothered to brush it. Her eyes were blotchy and puffy, I couldn’t bear to imagine how many hours she had spent crying over me.
How could I have done this to them, who had loved and cared for me all my life? I was a terrible son. The tears began streaming down my face again and my parents fussed over me as they tried to wipe the tears away at the same time. They ended up bumping heads, and all I could do was laugh in spite of myself.
After a moment of laughing about what had just happened, Mother speaks to me in a soft but fragile voice. She says, “Charlie, we’ve just been told that you won’t be able to leave before you have surgery. We can foot the bill, but we want to make sure it’s okay with you. We-” she stops to take in a deep breath. Father puts his hand on her shoulder and she continues. “We know that you’ve been suffering from depression ever since-” Suddenly, she breaks down. She wraps her arms around me as she sobs. “I’m so sorry, baby! I wish I’d noticed sooner so I could help you. We all miss her, but I don’t know how we would get along without you, sweetheart.”
Father pipes in and I swear I see a lone tear trudge down his cheek. “Not a day goes by when we don’t long for her presence. We have to stick together, bud, for better of worse.”
Mother leans away for a second and she looks me in my teary eyes as she says, “Your father’s right, Charlie. We need you to help us get through this.” Then she hugs me again. It hurts, dreadfully, but I ignore that and hug her back. Father leans down to join in and we all stay like that for a long while. It was uncomfortable, but it felt good somehow.
It’s been a few months since my “accident” and I’ve got to say, I’m glad I stuck around. And by that I mean, I’m glad I was forced to stick around. Life is still different without you, but I know that I’ll find you again. After all, life isn’t permanent.
The surgery went well. I can now sit up and breathe on my own. Unfortunately, my legs aren’t what they used to be and now I have to use a wheelchair. I don’t mind, though. Having someone else do all the work for you is pretty fun. Plus it’s lightweight, so it’s not much work that’s done anyway. Mom’s finally let me cut my hair. She says I deserve it for enduring the hardships with them. It grew out again, but I think I’ll leave it like that. I look better with long, curly hair anyway. Apparently, after I had passed out in the hospital room, I had fallen into a coma for eight months. During that time, both Grandpappy and Gran passed in their sleep. First was Grandpappy, then Gran a few weeks later. I wish I could’ve told them goodbye. Maybe you could tell them for me?
Anyway, I guess this is my final goodbye. I’m starting college in a few months, so I won’t be able to talk to you anymore. I’ll miss you, Leanna. Hugs and kisses from your favorite brother!
Author Notes: Uhh, yeah, i just wanted to close the story out. Maybe I did a terrible job, maybe I didn't- i mean, who's to say?
anyway, have a great day, lovely person reading this-