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"I love you"
I scampered up the front porch and behind the safety of our front door. I fought back poison tears that threatened to fall. They were hot and sharp behind my lids. I threw down my backpack and stumbled up the stairs to my bedroom. I slumped against the wall and only then did the tears betray me.
I felt a cloud of emotions wash through me all at once. I was sad, I was frustrated, I was agitated. Here I was half hysterical, slumped on my bedroom floor while Jason lay unconscious in a hospital bed. He was in an accident, an accident that was not his fault. He didn’t ask Phillip to flip the car. He didn’t ask to be thrown through the window. He didn’t ask to be given all these head injuries. He didn’t have a choice.
It was only yesterday that Jason held me in his muscular arms as he wrestled me into the icy lake water. We laughed as we fought each other for the raft. We smiled as we settled on sharing it. It all seemed so foreign now. All those feelings of comfort and relaxation were now locked away and inaccessible. Nothing made me happy now.
I prayed Jason would be alright. I hoped with all my heart and soul that he would be. I threw a change of clothes into an empty backpack and grabbed my picture of Jason and me hugging and smiling into the camera. It was our favorite picture.
A knock on the door startled me. My mom peeked her head in, struggling to hide the sadness in her eyes. She didn’t fool me; Jason was like a son to her. I expected her to give me her speech on how everything will be okay and that Jason would be alright. Instead she asked, “Are you ready?”
I nodded and followed her through the kitchen and out the front door. She drove me up to the front of the hospital and grabbed my hand before I got out.
“Bailey, everything will be just fine. As long as you believe in Jason, he will be fine.”
All I could do was nod for if I dared say anything, I was sure to cry. Inside the hospital was plain white and cold. I wrapped my sweater tighter around me and walked up to the front desk. People of all sorts stared at me from the waiting room with looks of sadness and depression flooding their faces. I smiled politely but tried hard to ignore them.
“Hi, how may I help you?” A tiny nurse asked me.
“Hi, I’m looking for Jason Ford’s room,”
“May I ask your relation to Jason?” She asked me.
“I’m like family to him,” I replied. The nurse looked doubtful. Just then, Julie, Jason’s mom, rounded the corner and spotted me immediately. She rushed up and held me closely.
“Oh baby,” She sighed into my sweater, “Jason needs you,” The nurse nodded me in and Julie led me to Jason’s room. I took a deep breath before walking in. I was scared of what I would see. I was so scared. Then I saw Jason. He was pinned down with a simple platinum blanket and millions of tubes and wires. There were needles in his beautiful arms and patches of his silky brown hair were gone. I put my hand to my mouth and dropped my bag to the floor. The sight was unbearable. I turned away from it and let more tears stream down my cheeks. Julie held me tightly.
“Don’t let Jason see you sad,” She whispered in my ear. I forced my tears to stop and went to Jason’s bedside. I kissed his cheek softly. I sat in a chair and took his hand in both of mine. I don’t know how much time passed, or if any had passed at all. All I knew was that I was here, with Jason, and that I felt I was where I needed to be.
Julie sat across the room half asleep in her chair.
“Julie, if you need sleep, I can stay here with Jason,” I offered.
“God bless you dear,” She said and after a while, went home for a some what decent nights sleep. I changed into my pajamas and curled up on the bed next to Jason. I had always heard that hospital beds were very uncomfortable but not for me. I couldn’t get any more comfortable than I was right now. I still held Jason’s hand and kissed his cheek softly goodnight.
“I love you Jay,” I whispered. The computer monitoring Jason’s mind activity suddenly beeped loudly indicated he had heard something. I sat up and saw the little arch showing what he had heard. I slowly realized that he had heard me say I love him. I said it again, and again the monitor beeped loudly. A nurse rushed in to check and see what was happening.
“Has he wakened?” She asked.
“No, not yet, is it possible…for him to hear me?” I asked.
“If you’re lucky,” She smiled, “Is that why his monitor beeped?”
“I think so,” I said, hope flickering in my chest.
“Well then, I’m sure whatever you said made him happy,” She adjusted a few wires then left to tend to other patients.
I lay back down and smiled softly to myself. Some how, I knew everything would be alright. I woke in the morning when I heard low chatter across the room. I opened my eyes and saw Jason’s parents talking quietly. They looked up when they saw me awake.
“Good morning, love, how did you sleep?” She asked.
“Fine, thank you,” I smiled and sat up in Jason’s bed.
“That’s good, thank you for staying here with him last night. We didn’t want him to be alone if… well if he woke up by chance. The nurse said he had brain activity last night, is that true?” She asked me, hope dancing in her eyes.
“Yes, I told him I love him, he heard me Julie! His monitor beeped and I know he heard me.” I beamed at this bit of great news, hearing it aloud made me feel so happy.
“I hope this means things are looking up,” Jason’s dad said.
“I really think they will,” Julie said, “I need some breakfast, can I get you something dear?”
“Sure, I could use a drink and some food,” Julie hugged me once and she and Tom left. I dragged my back pack to the bathroom and pulled my jeans on. I was about to change my shirt when I heard yawning from the room. I peeked around the corner and saw Jason moving his head slowly. I rushed out and sat next to him.
“Jason! Jason? Can you hear me?” His monitor beeped loudly. “Jay! Come on buddy! Wake up!” He continued moving his head side to side. His monitor beeped with every word I said.
“Nurse!” I cried. She rushed in, alarmed.
“He’s waking up! He’s hearing me! Jason please wake up!” I took his hand and held it firmly. “Get Julie!” I told her. She left to find her and another nurse came in and started tending to him.
“Jason! Please, please wake up!” I begged him. Tears streamed down my face and landed softly on Jason’s hand.
“Please Jay! I love you, please wake up, and see me. I’m here! I promise I’m not going anywhere just please wake up!” His monitor beeped at a steady pace and stayed there.
“Please Jay!” I whispered. Julie and Tom rushed in and straight to his side.
“Jason Ryan! Can you hear me? Can you shake your head? Can you squeeze Bailey’s hand? Squeeze Bailey’s hand if you can hear us!” Julie said frantically.
I watched Jason’s hand. I hoped with all my might that he would miraculously squeeze my hand and tell me everything was okay. I watched and watched. I focused on nothing but his hand. Julie and Tom’s frantic plead faded into a distant mumble. I watched his hand in mine, limp and tan and warm…and moving.
“Oh my gosh!” I cried, “He moved! Jason! Wake up! I love you!” His hand gripped mine tighter.
Then his beautiful eyes opened to meet mine. His beautiful crystal clear eyes opened and a smile spread across his handsome face. Tears spilled out of my eyes.
“I love you too,” He said and we all hugged him close. Then I knew for sure, that everything would be okay.